I’m sure you shower nearly every day, washing your hair with the same shampoo. But have you ever given a single thought to the process that got that bottle of shampoo into your hand? We are living in a time when the bulk of our interactions are secretly driven by artificial intelligence (AI). Not secret in the Big Brother sense, but secret because the technology is constantly working behind the scenes to make human lives easier. As a consumer, your purchase choices are being influenced by technology before you even step into the store.
To allow one person to simply choose a bottle of shampoo takes a diverse set of choices, ranging from R&D protocol to chemical transfer practices to shelf space optimization. Sure, we all have our brand and our store. But if you zoom out past your decision to pick up that bottle and throw it in your cart, you discover that your one personal decision to buy shampoo could not have happened without an absurd amount of analytics.
AI is used to inform several decisions before a shopper makes the choice to buy
Let’s start in the lab. That shampoo you picked up is just a refined mix of chemicals. While you as a consumer may only really care about the ingredients that make your hair smell like roses (or summer breeze or shea butter), the manufacturers must perfect the concentration of ingredients to comply with various regulations. What can be sold in Montreal cannot necessarily be sold in Los Angeles or Paris. You can imagine the stress of attempting to make one universal formula that conforms to the codes of different countries. To ease and hasten this arduous process of defining and complying to different rule sets of each country, a leading global cosmetics company uses FICO Blaze Advisor rules management software.
Think of a global company selling their shampoo in a dozen countries; that can easily require them to apply tens of thousands of rules to determine if their product can even be sold. There are more than 6,000 rules dictating chemical combinations and concentrations in Japan alone. That’s a lot of rules, and it makes for quite a complex undertaking. Typically, the legal team understands the intricacies of legislation and the IT team understands how to code rules. With Blaze Advisor, the legal experts can communicate directly with the rules system, effectively eliminating the need for IT to translate and thereby freeing them up to focus on innovation instead of maintenance. This subtle perk of software automation creates immense agility since legal experts can communicate with legal teams all over the world in their own language. Once this is done, it is up to R&D to tweak the ingredients so that the shampoo can be sold everywhere.
Now that the formula has been optimized for sale in different countries, the shampoo must actually be made. This means the transportation of chemicals must be coordinated: not an easy task. Chemical companies must consider several variables, like the type of truck and time of day, before they ship the raw ingredients of your shampoo. With unpredictable variations in supply chain configuration, it is difficult for chemical companies to keep their material master data updated. For example, a chemical company simplified this logistical nightmare by preparing an accurate and responsive set of master material data using a combination of FICO Blaze Advisor and SAP Workflow. The implementation of this technology allowed the company to create a tailored rule set to consistently eliminate inaccurate and incomplete requests from their system. This system intelligently takes all available data about best practices of chemical and gas transfer to help the company decide how and when to transfer the ingredients, effectively cutting a 45-day process down to less than one day.
Chemical companies implement Blaze Advisor business rules software to help coordinate the transfer of chemicals
At this point, the shampoo formula has been established and approved, all the chemicals have been safely transferred, and we’re not even halfway to your cart. Once everything inside the bottle is safe and legal, shampoo companies must get to work, or rather let rules and optimization software get to work on their behalf, to sort out packaging and shelf placement. More on that in the next blog in this series.