(US & Canada) VIDEO | We’re Building Our Organizational AI Heatmap While Ensuring Governance — Giant Eagle EVP and CIO
Kirk Ball, EVP and Chief Information Officer at Giant Eagle, speaks with ElectrifAi CEO Ed Scott, in a video interview about connecting the siloed aspects of demand forecasting, pricing, inventory management, and shipment; the must-dos for CDOs, CTOs, and CIOs to create organizational impact; using large language models with governance; creating the AI Heatmap, and balancing the trade-off matrix.
Giant Eagle is one of the largest privately-owned enterprises in the U.S. comprising freestanding pharmacies, convenience stores, and supermarkets. ElectrifAi solves high-value business problems for the C-suite at the last mile, with prebuilt machine learning solutions.
In the beginning, Ball discusses Giant Eagle’s take on how to connect and create dependency between demand forecasting and pricing, which are mostly siloed in most organizations. The first thing to ensure here, he says, is that people understand the end-to-end processes.
From forecasting to procurement, to inventory management, and shipment of product to store, it is critical that the processes are mapped and everybody is aware of what the other component is doing, says Ball.
Highlighting siloed systems, he notes that it is difficult for one group to know what the others are doing as they are not looking at the same thing. Further, many times, the integration points between those disparate systems are manual or in spreadsheets.
To solve this issue, Ball suggests having a common platform, an integrated suite that is purposefully built for forecasting or merchandising demand or procurement. He maintains that if the modules have built-in integrations, it will make the processes seamless and people would understand what other groups are doing and its impact.
When asked about the must-do’s for CDOs, CTOs, and CIOs, to be effective within the organization, Ball mentions two things that create the most impact. The first one, he says, is that the CDOs, CTOs, and CIOs must ensure that the business partners and workforce at large understand them.
He elaborates that the leaders must connect, spend time, and walk in the shoes of the business partners and other stakeholders. This would make them feel that the leaders’ motive is to help them to achieve the objectives, says Ball. This, in turn, builds the partnership and trust, he adds.
The second, must-have is the art of storytelling to derive the needed outcomes, says Ball. He maintains that telling a story in a language that the listeners can connect to and helps them understand how it particularly aids in achieving objectives, is critical.
Ball reiterates that the story must be in a language and the contexts that people are being told to understand and it varies with the audience. He stresses that it is massively impactful if the audience understands that the CDOs, CTOs, and CIOs are committed to helping them be successful, through the language used, without getting into technical jargon.
Kirk Ball | EVP and CIO, Giant Eagle
In continuation, Ball states that be it the CEO or the President of a supermarket, they are incredibly smart people but their languages are different.
Moving forward, he sheds light on the use of large language models and discusses putting a policy in place for the use of tools like Bard or ChatGPT. He asserts that as everybody in the company wants to use ChatGPT, the policy will help them understand that there are things that should not be done concerning using these tools.
For this, Giant Eagle is looking at its agreements with Google and Microsoft to understand their artificial intelligence capability, especially if it runs over proprietary large language models that Giant Eagle has. He says that it is crucial to make sure that there is integrity through the legal language process.
Referring to the building of an “AI heat map,” Ball affirms that the company is identifying the effort, value, and use cases where Generative AI could be used to add value. He maintains that there have been some initial quick wins and Giant Eagle is leveraging Generative AI to generate ad and marketing campaigns. Furthermore, there are legal, costs and call-center, and computer vision applications, says Ball.
He adds that with applications in various stages, the company is trying to put together the heat map to ensure that there is proper governance on how the technologies are used to get wins, demonstrating its capability and helping people understand the pros and the cons.
Speaking further on the topic, Ball states that one can get into hallucinations with Generative AI and it alone cannot carry out a marketing campaign without having humans in the loop. He confirms that Giant Eagle is looking at it as an accelerant and not as a replacement.
Shedding light on the trade-off between time, expense, and security, Ball opines that the trade-off matrix is unique for each enterprise at the end of the day.
In conclusion, he states that it is up to the enterprise to look at how to apply Generative AI to the problems it is trying to solve. However, data security is applicable regardless of what industry it is.
CDO Magazine appreciates Kirk Ball for sharing his insights with our global community.