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PepsiCo CEO says for AI, 2023 will be the year of ‘hope and focus’


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Athina Kanioura, who was appointed PepsiCo’s first chief strategy and transformation officer in September 2020, said that when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), the past year has been an aspirational year but ultimately a year later. unsuccessful. But she is optimistic about 2023.

“Think about how we started with inverse and the use of AI, suddenly it fell to pieces,” she told VentureBeat. “In AI, we tend to see what doesn’t work the first time, then we lose hope — but I think 2023 will be a year of hope and focus for AI.”

That includes at PepsiCo, Kanioura, who has joined the third-largest consumer packaged goods (CPG) company — with familiar global brands including Pepsi, Lay’s, Cheetos, Quaker and Gatorade — in a row. Ten years working at Accenture professional services company. There, she most recently served as the company’s director of analytics and global head of Applied Intelligence, to help clients leverage AI at scale.

She explains that PepsiCo is “extremely passionate” about AI, and when she joined, she put statistical information, digital data, and AI under one umbrella to grow the company “exponentially” employees” and “promoting another PepsiCo in the future”.

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That seems to come from above: Just a month ago, in comments accompanying the company’s Q3 2022 financial results, PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta, and chief financial officer, Hugh Johnston, indicate the company focus on “automate and digitize our supply chain to support our innovation system with greater agility and speed to market.”

Athina Kanioura, director of strategy and transformation, PepsiCo

Three main segments

Artificial intelligence at PepsiCo — from cognitive science and machine learning (ML) capabilities to data lakes and the cloud — is organized in what Kanioura calls the “human framework” and is divided into three segments main.

One is the use of AI to enhance the human experience and facilitate what is happening on the ground. For example, PepsiCo uses AI monitoring for predictive asset maintenance, quality, and employee safety in factories, warehouses, and distribution centers.

She explains: “There are control towers, sensors in their equipment, machines to prevent safety risks to our employees, to control quality and prevent any damage to our equipment. with parts. “Through these AI systems, we protect the health of our employees, and second, we give them visibility into how they can do their jobs more efficiently — so we I am of great importance from an operations and supply chain perspective.”

PepsiCo also uses AI to speed up the company’s growth by identifying “whitespace” when thinking about new product categories — including by analyzing consumer sentiment.

“With this kind of data, in less than a year we created the Off The Eaten Path seaweed snack, which is really going well,” she said.

The AI ​​insights also showed that consumers were concerned about immunity, which led to Propel, with its immunity-boosting ingredients, six months later.

“This is how you can use AI to drive the next generation of products and growth,” she added.

In addition, AI is used to enhance sustainability.

“AI is an integral part of the company’s future mission, which is a positive outcome, a better planet for our employees, our children and our communities,” she said.

For example, as one of the largest potato producers in the world (for brands like Frito-Lay), PepsiCo uses AI to feed farmers in North America, Latin America, and Europe more than a million key data points about the potatoes they grow and provide detailed crop information — such as how deep the seed should be sown based on weather conditions, how much water to water, how to protect the crop, and How to optimize productivity.

“That has led to much more sustainable practices,” she said.

PepsiCo’s farming technology

Digital hubs drive PepsiCo’s success

A year ago, PepsiCo establish The company’s first two digital hubs are in Barcelona, ​​Spain, and Dallas, Texas, and are expected to create more than 500 digital and data jobs over the next few years, to “image have a major impact on how an organization reinvents the planning, execution, movement, sales, and distribution of products.”

At the time, PepsiCo said the hubs would help the company move towards a future vision of its customers by allowing professionals to have real-time access to sales and inventory data, products and services. Products are always available in the right places, and employees can also use predictive decision-making.

But no matter where AI is used in PepsiCo, Kanioura said all employees operate within the same responsible AI framework.

“We have a responsible AI framework that everyone adheres to, from the way we design the systems to the way we enter the data, process the models, test the models while they run and finally the post-processing,” she said. “The principles apply to everyone on my team, and we have a committee that ensures this process is implemented consistently across the organization.”

The Future of AI at PepsiCo and beyond

Kanioura and other AI leaders at PepsiCo are actively providing industry views and recommendations to regulators, including the Congressional AI Committee and NIST, she added.

“Which AI ethical framework should be applied, the processes and prerequisites you need to have a workable framework for an organization, what is the role of industry versus technology provider versus government ,” she said. “I believe that if you have different parties…getting together, it would be a boon to put in place a legal framework.”

For PepsiCo, Kanioura emphasized that AI’s mission is to drive the next generation of growth for the company, but in the context of the human experience.

“I think 2023 will be a year where I expect to see further consolidation, with investments much more focused on key areas of AI where it will benefit the masses and across industries, rather than future possibilities,” she said. “I think the industry has realized that we need to do things that everyone can benefit from — you’ve heard that in discussions from many tech companies, who say to focus on core of AI.”

Additionally, she says that the future of AI at PepsiCo will be about scalability and industrialization.

“Over the years, we did a lot of testing, a lot of proof of concepts, because some areas of AI are not mature enough,” she said. “Now, if we’re thinking about AI for integrated business planning, we’re doing it at scale. R&D will use it on a large scale.”

It is important, she concludes, to take an overall assessment of a challenging year and rethink some of the AI ​​strategies.

“In 2023, there is a lot of hope for what AI can do for society,” she said. “We should not forget about how in the time of COVID-19, AI has been used for precision medicine, and there is a lot of hope for AI in precision agriculture, we are using it – that’s it. is a great unlocking step to what AI can do.”

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