While there is still some unknown on where AI will go, the technology is here and expanding. John Andersen, a dealer consultant who has worked in modernizing dealerships for 35 years, shared tips on how dealers can future-proof their dealership and equip their teams with the knowledge to leverage new technology during a Farm Equipment webinar. 

Andersen compared the origins of the rapid revolution of agricultural technology in the past 100 years or so, citing that compared to farming back in the late 1800s, “[Today] there’s very little human intervention, a lot of human risk, but very little human intervention in the physical act of farming.” Already in the past there has been a sharp decrease of actual human labor put into the physical side of farming, so the involvement of AI in these processes should not be a deterrent to farmers, he says. 

However, there is a reasonable fear of AI, Andersen says, in response to the exponential growth of productivity caused by new technologies. “What’s scary in the AI world is this is happening in accordance with Moore’s Law, which means year-over-year we’re doubling what our ability is to adopt and use technology until such a point that the technology probably is closer to running us than we are running the technology. And in some respects, that’s kind of where we are today.”

Though AI may seem a bit frightening to many, the benefits of using it in your business are monumental. AI can help gather all sorts of important statistics about a customer like what they purchased, how often they purchased things and how often they needed repairs, Andersen explains. Machine learning, the process of “taking that big data and building machine learning applications around it,” proves essential in artificial intelligence’s ability to forecast and predict what can be done through the information already available, he says.

Countering fears about AI replacing human workers that many may have, Andersen says, “Artificial intelligence is based exclusively on data. It doesn't have intuition, it doesn’t have a gut and it doesn't have the ability to relate human to human.” 

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Human workers can never be replaced, as the need for human emotional intelligence will always be needed in the workplace. Andersen says, “Your emotional intelligence is always what plays, and that’s when you sit and talk to a farmer and you start to look at weather conditions and you look at his face and you know that it’s going to be a difficult year for him, or he comes in with his spring in his step and you know that he’s got something going on and you know that the crop yield is going to be higher than what he expected.” The need for human interaction and emotional intelligence will always be a vital part of customer service. 

However, this is not to say that AI can not be a powerful tool in the hands of dealerships. Andersen says, “We’re not talking about having a computer run the dealership, we’re talking about the computer providing you with intelligence so you can make emotional decisions and striking that balance perfectly between what's actual data and what you know from the gut.”

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Andersen goes on to list instances in which AI is already used in the industry, like Case IH’s aMax, John Deere’s Auto Reclasse and Kubota’s Smart Supply. Having AI complete tasks like data entry, inventory tracking, and routine maintenance scheduling can free up employees to focus on more important customer service tasks, he says. Furthermore, citing the ability to use chatbots, allowing customers to find quick answers to questions they may have, one can further automate the system and allow for far more productivity. 

Data Aggregation 

By collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data from various sources, such as customer transactions, inventory management systems, and sensor-equipped machinery, dealerships can uncover valuable insights that were previously hidden.

To emphasize the usefulness of everyday data aggregation, Andersen notes his phone’s ability to track where he has been, how many miles he traveled, how much he spent on gas and overall providing him with much more information about his daily life than he would have known otherwise. 

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Relating to the dealership world, Andersen says, “If you can imagine all the Case IH dealers sharing data aggregation, so when a piece of equipment comes in, it’s not just what your history is on how long it takes to change out a hydraulic pump, it’s going to be the history of every Case dealer in the system that’s aggregated that.” 

AI algorithms can also analyze historical sales data, seasonal patterns and customer preferences to optimize parts stocking levels, reducing overstocking and minimizing stockouts.

AI can further aid dealerships and their customers through the use of targeted customer marketing, as well as preventing theft of machinery, using things like Apple AirTags. Andersen was also excited about the prospects of Augmented Reality.

 “And that’s really what augmented reality is to say, ‘OK, so we have one layer that’s the actual that we’re looking at,’ and then we’re going to overlay on there artificial intelligence that says, ‘This is how you remove the tire. This is how you remove the following brackets. This is how you lift the pump assembly out and this is how you disassemble the pump assembly.’” 

Although this technology seems a bit far off, at the rate of technological advancements, it will be sooner rather than later.

“The market is changing underneath you, you have to be prepared to change with the market. You have to continue to learn and know everything that you’re working with, Andersen says ” 

He also emphasizes the ability of AI to allow employees to increase their skills and get training rather than fulfill mundane and repetitive tasks. Lastly, Andersen revealed that the slideshow that he had been using during the webinar was put together by an AI website, proving that AI is more practical and easy to use than some may think.

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