By Mari-Len De Guzman
The phrase “artificial intelligence” can conjure up visions of robots and machines taking over the world in an apocalyptic setting, driving humankind to extinction. A scary thought to some who feel technology has hijacked our way of life.
Putting aside the paranoia, artificial intelligence (AI) and smart systems can have the potential to change the way businesses operate. Harnessing the power of this technology can give any organization a competitive advantage. Machine learning systems for AI are already being used in varying degrees in different major industries, such as manufacturing, automotive, oil and gas, even in aquaculture.
With the cannabis industry poised to become one of the fastest growing industries in Canada, and expected to be worth $5 billion by 2021, technology adaption will be key to this growth. It appears, however, that technology had not been top-of-mind for many companies. In fact, according to an analysis by Toronto-based professional services firm PWC Canada, “much of the technology used by cannabis operators today is rudimentary, unscalable and unsustainable.”
There was a mad rush to get to market and get production and business operations going in time for federal legalization. Huge capital resources mostly favoured building production facilities and setting up state-of-the-art physical security systems, and very little attention had been given to technologies that can potentially provide strategic advantages to an organization.
Imagine being able to look at your company’s overall operations – from selecting genetics and operating your grow rooms to marketing and packaging your products – and be able to generate predictive models that can tell you what your company’s bottom-line will look like a year from now, or what tweaks you need to make in your cultivation process to optimize your output, or which brands and target market you should be focusing your marketing dollars on.
The key to all this is your data and adapting technology that can harness all the intelligence that can be gathered from the vast amount of data being generated across all aspects of the business operations. Predictive analytics, automation, remote management and smart control systems are some of the new technologies that are gaining traction in other industries and can provide significant benefits to the cannabis industry.
Our Sept./Oct. cover story focuses on big data’s role in shaping the cannabis industry and how organizations and consumers are using data to serve their purposes. This feature is a very good insight on how this industry can leverage big data to gain market intelligence, improve operational efficiencies, enhance cultivation practices and so much more. But this story barely scratches the surface of the immense power big data can have for those willing to spend the time and resources to discover its potential.
Now that the mad rush seems to be slowing down, and as cannabis companies start to take stock of their revenues and expenditures, perhaps it’s time to look at technologies that can enhance your business viability.
Artificial intelligence and smart technologies were not designed to wipe out humankind. What they can eliminate are inefficient, wasteful, unsustainable business processes.