Rackspace Technology: Global AI/ML Research: Retail sector findings


Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are reinventing the retail landscape globally. The technology today is turning data into insights and in turn guiding actions that improve business results. According to a new survey sponsored by Rackspace Technology, most (65%) of IT decision-makers at retail companies and organizations said Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are technologies that are most mission-critical to their business strategy. 

With AI/ML technologies, there is an opportunity to enhance customer experiences, improve revenue growth potential, undertake rapid innovation and create smart operations- all of which can help businesses to stand out from the competition. 

Key findings from the research include:

  • 58% of respondents in the retail space said AI/ML technologies are a high priority for their industry 
  • 69% reported AI/ML has had a positive impact of on brand awareness and on brand reputation (67%), as well as on revenue generation (72%) and on expense reduction (72%)
  • 75% of respondents in retail say they are employing AI/ML as part of their business strategy, IT strategy or both
  • While 68% of retail respondents are allocating between 6% and 10% of their budget to AI/ML projects. 
  • The technology is being used by retailers in an increasingly wide variety of contexts, including improving the speed and efficiency of processes (47%), personalizing content and understanding customers (43%), increasing revenue (41%), gaining competitive edge (42%) and predicting performance (32%), and understanding marketing effectiveness (42%)
  • In an indication of the increasing maturity of the technologies, 66% of retail respondents said their AI/ML projects have gone past the experimentation stage and are now either in the “optimizing/innovating” or “formalizing” states of implementation
  • There are however challenges when it comes to AI/ML adoption.  34% of retail respondents cite difficulties aligning AI/ML strategies to the business. 
  • From a talent perspective, more than half 61% of retail respondents said they have necessary AI/ML skills within their organization. 
  • At the same time, more than half of all respondents say that bolstering internal skills/hired talent and improving both internal and external training are on their agenda.
  • Comparing departments, 69% of retail respondents say IT staff grasp AI/ML benefits while 46% in sales,  45% in R&D, 44% in senior management and boards, 41% in customer service and operations and only 34% in marketing departments understand the benefits of these technologies.