Unilever has embarked on a new corporate strategy that involves the launch of its first global artificial intelligence lab, Horizon3 Labs, located in Toronto. The lab will initially focus on forecasting, modeling data relationships using graph technology, and generating insights for trends, patterns, and predictions.
Gary Bogdani, Unilever head of data science for North America and Canada D&A, emphasized the ability of graph technology to simplify complex data and make it easier to visualize data and relationships. He also noted that graph technology can power recommendation engines, support collaborative and social applications, and efficiently manage connections between users, posts, and interactions.
Unilever has identified 15 core areas of focus for AI and currently has over 400 applications of AI, including using AI in ice cream freezers to help retailers manage their inventory and place new orders, resulting in a sales lift of up to 35%.
The company is also leveraging AI in customer service, marketing, advanced analytics, and machine learning in supply chain and logistics. Initiatives at Horizon3 Labs will involve a “hybrid” model that embeds academic researchers and leaders from startups, and the work will ultimately be incorporated across Unilever’s global business.
Andy Hill, Unilever chief data officer, stated that establishing the lab in Toronto will provide access to top tech talent and business partners and will help expedite the progress of AI technology innovation. Unilever is making a significant investment in developing and deploying AI technology across the business, and the launch of Unilever’s AI lab will enable the company to focus on technology innovation.