If it seems like technology is advancing at a whiplash pace, you are correct. “The cycles of development have been reduced from years to months,” Kanioura says. But the concepts that AI is built upon remain relevant, and can help you understand what it’s all about:
1. AI is a way of organizing data.
“Only five percent of the world we live in is structured data. The other 95 percent is unstructured data,” says Magesh Bagavathi, PepsiCo SVP and Chief Technology Officer. AI takes disorganized information — the other 95% — and turns it into formulas. Bagavathi shares one example: AI can look at a face and measure all its curves and angles, then detect patterns and learn how those curves and angles will move. With that data, it’s possible to construct a simulation of the face and recreate its expressions.
PepsiCo did just this with Lay’s Messi Messages, a world-first innovation that allowed fans to create personalized messages straight from the soccer star’s mouth. After filming Lionel Messi, his features were mapped so AI could predict how he would look and sound. With this technology, more than 4 million unique messages were sent in 10 languages — all based on five minutes of recorded footage.
2. AI can help teams predict the future.
Since AI is about organizing massive amounts of information, experts can analyze all that data and spot future trends. “PepsiCo has always been using technology to engage with our consumers,” Kanioura says. “Now, because of AI we can understand what consumers want and how they want to be engaged. We have millions of data sets to tailor our products and create experiences that are highly customized.”
AI can dramatically decrease product innovation cycles so PepsiCo teams can respond to consumer demand, in shortened timelines. Insights revealed people were discussing, searching for and ordering seaweed products online thanks to an AI tool that analyzed millions of social posts, recipes and menus. That led R&D to develop Off The Eaten Path seaweed snacks in less than 12 months. Similarly, AI insights showed that consumers were interested in immunity. Six months later, Propel with immunity-boosting ingredients was on store shelves, ready to sip.
3. AI is critical to sustainability.
It’s one of the most significant opportunities, Kanioura says. “As a company, we are making significant commitments in the sustainability space,” she notes. “But with this ambition we need the right enablers, and AI becomes an enabler of how we protect the environment.”
Kanioura sees farming communities as one of the biggest areas of impact. And PepsiCo has found ways to help farmers use AI in the field. Growers in North America, Latin America and Europe have collected more than one million key data points about the potatoes they plant – everything from the seed they use to how deep they plant and how much they water. With machine learning, farmers can discover improvements they can make to increase productivity and optimize yields.
These smarter farming practices not only make growers more profitable, but also mean the crops are grown in a more sustainable way – requiring less water and fewer pesticides while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The more data available, the more sustainable PepsiCo’s farming practices become.
4. AI is designed to enhance human capabilities.
One common misconception is that AI will replace the need for humans, but Kainoura explains this not the case. “AI technologies go hand-and-hand with human ingenuity,” she says.
Kanioura says the most innovative AI technology allows people to be more productive by removing repetitive tasks and allowing individuals to focus on more skilled functions, like interpreting data insights and driving business decisions.
At many of Frito-Lay's plants, technology monitors and tracks data on the plants’ machines to predict any mechanical failures before they happen. After one year, the plants saw zero unexpected breakdowns or interruptions. With the help of AI, mechanics were able to be more efficient with their time so they could focus on planned maintenance and be proactive before equipment failed.