Unilever is taking a significant step forward with the launch of its first global artificial intelligence lab, Horizon3 Labs, in Toronto. The lab will focus on accelerating the use of AI across various functions, with a particular emphasis on forecasting and modeling data relationships using graph technology. According to Gary Bogdani, the head of data science for North America and Canada D&A, graph technology can simplify complex data and facilitate visual representations of data, resulting in numerous benefits such as supporting recommendation engines and collaborative applications.
The lab will also work on generating insights for trends, patterns, and predictions. Unilever has identified 15 core areas of focus for AI, with over 400 applications already in use. One example is the use of AI in ice cream freezers to help manage inventory and place orders, resulting in reported sales increases of up to 35% for retailers. Additionally, Unilever is leveraging generative AI in customer service and marketing as well as advanced analytics and machine learning in supply chain and logistics.
Horizon3 Labs will operate on a “hybrid” model that brings together academic researchers and startup leaders to develop innovative solutions that can be integrated across Unilever’s global business. The decision to establish the lab in Toronto was driven by Unilever’s chief data officer Andy Hill who recognized the need for access to top tech talent and business partners to drive technology innovation within the company. The establishment of this new lab represents a significant investment by Unilever into developing and deploying AI technology across its business units with the goal of driving innovation through technology advancements.