How to Deliver AI to Your Business Users — Fast
Advancements in digital technology and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) have changed the decision-making processes followed by modern business enterprises. As decision-making technologies continue gaining popularity in the market, data science has also become an important part of the decision making process.
The importance of Data-Driven Decision Making (DDDM) for modern businesses cannot be overemphasized. AI fueled purpose-built applications are quickly enabling business users to update data, alter parameters, run algorithms and use results to support more intelligent decision making processes on a daily basis.
Supply Chain App Studio — The Perfect AI Tool for Democratizing AI
A few years ago, I was working as a data scientist consultant at a CPG company. My project involved predicting the risk of service failures on promotional orders. I gathered the data from different systems and worked on my algorithm. Being creative and using analytics to address real pain points for my clients is my favorite part about being a data scientist. But a one-time analysis on my computer did not solve the problem for my client.
The Problem — Difficult to Productionalize Solutions
To make the science drive business value, I had to work for weeks to cobble together different parts of my workflow to “productionalize” my analysis. The business users needed to interact with the outputs in a digestible form with the capability to update automatically on a schedule. To do that, I applied ETL processes that run in Azure Data Factory.
I scheduled a script to run on a virtual machine and write data back to our database. I had to schedule a different refresh of my dashboard after these steps were complete. Each of these processes had to be set up in different platforms with different languages and schedules.
As a data scientist, I was never fully trained on productionalizing solutions — there was no class for that in school. I wasted time testing approaches and learning new processes. I also had to lean on my software engineering colleagues in my IT environment to help with the backend details and user interface. In the end, the solution was inefficient and painful to maintain.
Even after putting in all that work to schedule and automate my scripts, the business users could only interact with the final dashboard. As a result, I spent a lot of time answering questions such as, “Are you using customer forecasts in your algorithm?” I was also frequently asked to adjust parameters and provide additional output outside the scheduled refresh. The business users never had the opportunity to own the analysis because they had no ability to interact with the end-to-end process.
The Solution — A Purpose-Built Web Application
I concluded that the solution we needed was a purpose-built web application such as those you can deliver through Coupa Supply Chain App Studio. My colleague, Aster Santana, wrote a great blog on why enterprises need purpose-built applications. Without an application, I could create an algorithm but I wasn’t able to to drive the value I wanted at my client because I didn’t have the skills to bring the algorithm to the business users in a scalable, sustainable way.
With an app, business users can log in and see the input data, run the model on demand, try a new scenario, and interact with the visualization layer. But as a data scientist, even with a master’s degree, building an enterprise-grade web application is not in my skill set.
Delivering Business Solutions Faster than Ever Before
Coupa's Supply Chain App Studio empowers data scientists and engineers to create production-ready, scalable, and reusable applications without ever writing any code for the front-end interface or back-end database. As a data scientist, I can quickly share my work with the business users by simply sending a link. The users can then log in, update data, change parameters, run the algorithm, and view the results and visuals — all within the web application. The results can be used to support the ongoing decision-making process.
App Studio's easy deployment allows app builders like me to deliver commercial-grade applications quickly and in an agile fashion. Putting an app in your users’ hands early in the process provides crucial feedback and helps to incorporate relevant domain knowledge into the application. This also increases the adoption of the web application by new users.
Since business users can see the end-to-end process, they are empowered to own the application and drive its adoption across their teams — which increases business value. Users don’t have to understand every nook and cranny of the algorithm to use the application. Purpose built applications reduce the training time needed to get up to speed with a complex software or process. The application is built for the business user’s specific problem and made to fit within their specific workflows.
Supply Chain App Studio — Powerful AI Tool for Modern Businesses
App Studio empowers me and many other data scientists and engineers at Coupa to focus on what we do best — use powerful algorithms to solve business problems without getting caught up in the timely and complex nature of deploying solutions. As companies mature in their AI journey, they will need more apps and fewer read-only reports. The only way to efficiently empower your organization and get AI into the hands of those who can benefit from it most, is to invest in an app deployment solution like Supply Chain App Studio.