Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Alibaba explores how AI can level playing field for SMEs

According to Alibaba, a startup’s chances of success currently are pretty grim with 20% failing in the first two years and 45% folding before five years due in large part to a lack of resources and knowledge to successfully navigate market volatility, supply chain disruptions, shifting consumer demands and inventory management.

Alibaba.com wants to help fill gaps in entrepreneurs’ knowledge and lighten their burdens by using a well-trained AI to leverage lessons learned and insights gathered from its 25 years of experience in global trade, according to head of marketing for North America Rah Mahtani. He explains in this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts podcast​, how the platform and its Smart Assistant are using AI to empower new and seasoned entrepreneurs to overcome obstacles and more effectively navigate global commerce. He also shares how AI is reshaping retail more generally by streamlining B2B e-commerce and retail workflow processes and how businesses can make the most of these advances.

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Alibaba goes beyond ‘simply desk research’ to craft AI-based Smart Assistant

In recent years artificial intelligence and machine learning have repeatedly been proffered as almost a panacea for the world’s woes, but time and time again they have fallen short in large part because they are only as good as the data on which they are trained.

Recognizing the skepticism some may have about AI solutions, Mahtani says Alibaba was careful to avoid the shortcomings that typically plague AI by first understanding the SME experience, including that entrepreneurs have limited resources and often wear multiple hats, and then finding real solutions by going beyond “simply desk research” to interact with buyers and salespeople in the retail space and interact with developers to understand what the tools are capable of and how they can actually enhance experiences.