During this Year’s 2018 SD Manufacturer’s Summit, I had the privilege of delivering a presentation on Artificial Intelligence. Since my session was video-heavy, I thought I’d provide links to the videos I used and some background on them.

For those who haven’t attended, I highly recommend the summit. Click here for a full list of this year’s sessions & topics. The annual summit is organized by the fine folks at SD Manufacturing Tech Solutions.

What is AI?

AI, or Artificial Intelligence is “a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers“. In simple language, that means computers that can learn from experiences and provide insightful feedback. Many of us use AI and never know it – every time you ask your phone a question, you’re using AI.

Here’s an overall definition of what AI is:

AI comes in many forms from computers learning how to do things to interacting. Here’s an example of an AI engine learning how to walk:

AI bots are also learning how to express emotion and interact with people:

Frankly this robot creeps me out – I don’t think I will ever be up for letting a robot nurse take care of me in the hospital! Examples like this are pretty far-out and unlikely to see real use in manufacturing anytime soon.

However, AI will become an increasing part of sales in manufacturing. Below I’ve included 4 examples of AI in practice today.

4 practical Uses for AI

Artificial Intelligence isn’t just for futurists looking at creating physical robots. It can also be used in very practical ways to help sales teams do more. Below I’ve included four examples of AI in use today. There are countless other uses for AI, but these examples are applicable to manufacturing today.


Chatbots are becoming far less intrusive and much more helpful. Chatbots can be used on your website, service/support phone system, and taking sales calls. Here’s an example of a website chatbot that fields questions then engages your team:

Sales Activity Data Mining & Notifications

AI is extremely useful in combing through huge amounts of data and finding trends and helping people to take action. Flywheel uses data mining to analyze customer purchasing data & activity volume to notify salespeople to take action:

Virtual Assistants

AI can take the hassle out of mundane tasks like scheduling meetings & follow up. Here’s an example of an AI engine that takes care of the entire meeting booking process:

Customer Health Monitoring

AI engines are very efficient at watching data and then providing insight when things are changing. An example of this is customer health monitoring. Flywheel watches customer purchasing trends and changes the customer health based on activity:

Where is AI going?

AI will do more and more mundane tasks for you. In this incredible video, Google’s AI engine books a haircut with a human:

Will AI bots take over the world?

We don’t think so! At this point AI can solve very specific problems, but AI bots aren’t generally as intelligent as one might think. Here’s a video of to chatbots talking to illustrate the point:

Thanks for reading!