Industry Insights

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November Monthly News Digest: Data Science & Analytics

November 30, 2022

This is the Burtch Works’ Monthly News Digest, the place to visit for a quick high-level breakdown of the month’s top stories from the world of data science & analytics.

This post was developed with input from Bill Franks, internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, and author focused on data science & analytics.

How a Magician-Mathematician Revealed a Casino Loophole

Who knew that card shuffling machines could lead to such an interesting story? A mathematician showed that some mechanical card shufflers being used in casinos weren’t randomizing the cards well enough and that a knowledgeable player could identify just enough non-randomness in the cards to provide themselves two to three times the edge of a traditional card counter.Needless to say, the shuffler manufacturers and casinos were not happy with this news! The article also discusses the math behind the perfect shuffle, how shuffling is related to Markov chains, and how people were able to take advantage of the card shuffling machines. It’s a fun read for anyone, but especially if you love the math behind casino games.Read the full article here.

Movio Wants to Make Your Marketing Videos with Generative AI

Generative AI is suddenly everywhere! There have been an explosion of startups now trying to devise applications for this new class of language model, where the machine is capable of creating custom text, images, and videos based on simple human input. One of them is Movio, a two-year-old startup leveraging generative AI along with other machine learning frameworks like GAN to make videos featuring talking human avatars.The platform is going after marketers with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface. Users will first pick from a range of templates, be it a theme for a shopping site or a trip to Japan. Then they can add a hyper realistic avatar to be the video’s “spokesperson”, with speech generated by text input. The outfit, face, and voice of the AI-made human can be swapped with a click. With the heightened popularity of video-form content, this tool can undoubtedly become a gamechanger for marketers. It will be interesting to see if these developments will have any impact on brand partnerships with influencers and celebrities as paid promotions and influencer marketing have revolutionized advertising in the past decade.Read the full article here.

How Walmart Automated Supplier Negotiations

Walmart, like most organizations with large procurement operations, cannot effectively conduct focused negotiations with all of its 100,000+ suppliers. As a result, around 20% of its suppliers have signed agreements with generic terms that are not thoroughly negotiated. It’s not the optimal way to engage with these “tail-end suppliers.” But the cost of hiring more human buyers to negotiate with them would exceed any additional value.Walmart solved the problem with artificial intelligence–powered software that includes a text-based interface (or chatbot) that negotiates with human suppliers on behalf of Walmart. While it is rare for chatbots to be utilized outside of customer service, it is interesting to see Walmart capitalizing on its chatbot to run 2000 negotiations simultaneously – something that’s not feasible for humans.Read the full article here.

Why Authorized Deepfakes are Becoming Big for Business

This is another interesting view into the emerging business models focused on legitimate, officially sanctioned deepfakes. The article references a study claiming that up to 90% of all digital media could be fake within 5 – 7 years! That may well be an aggressive claim, but the reality is likely to be much closer to that target than we would have imagined just a year or two ago.The services offered today focus on making it easy for non-experts to create and edit videos by selecting from a range of actors’ and actresses’ images and voices to insert into videos. Using someone’s likeness triggers a payment to the real actor/actress who trained the fake. Since the videos created are 100% synthetic, it makes edits or updates quick and easy with no need to schedule time with the talent and recording team.Especially for tactical training videos or rapidly changing content, synthetic video has a lot of potential to enable more and fresher content while simultaneously keeping costs down. Of course, as these algorithms continue to evolve, data scientists will be at the heart of the progress!Read the full article here.

Thanksgiving Shortages and Inflation in 2022

It's no surprise that food costs across the board have been going up due to rising inflation, but this reality can become troublesome during the holiday season for families trying to prepare a budget-friendly Thanksgiving menu. And this year, the price of turkeys leaped upwards of 20% combined with an overall shortage of supply. A big part of the problem has been the spread of the H1N5 avian influenza virus, which has devastated the supply of many farm-raised birds, including turkeys, making it very challenging for turkey farmers and processors to meet market demand this holiday season. Even the best supply chain optimization algorithms can’t make up for a lack of sufficient supply.Read the full article here.