You can’t have a conversation about technology right now without the topics of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) coming up. Inevitably, that conversation will include the question, “What can machine learning and AI do for my company [or my industry]?”
Many organizations in the cannabis industry are still only beginning to figure out how data can make a positive impact on their business. An analytics solution can help organizations make sense of the large amounts of data a company will eventually collect. If that solution incorporates AI, it can make that task more efficient, both in terms of the time spent on analysis as well as the results that can come out of that work.
From the ground up
Some cannabis cultivators have already started to employ AI solutions in the growth stage. There are so many variables that can affect a plant’s growth, from light exposure to watering amounts to temperature, among others. AI can quickly learn the ideal setting for hundreds of data points that contribute to a plant’s growth and make sure automated devices maintain the appropriate levels for the best product.
AI can figure out which strains of cannabis are selling best for an organization and customize the growing conditions to consistently produce the same strain. It is also possible that down the road, medicinally, AI could take data from researchers in order to customize plants that could help treat different ailments. Not unlike in the medical field, where AI can be used to more quickly pore through huge amounts of x-rays or MRIs to identify possible health issues, it can also be used to identify sick plants so that growers can intervene sooner.
Data for retailers
AI is in many cases already being used for selling cannabis the same way it is in any industry. The technology can identify overall trends and help companies make better business decisions overall. From comparisons of foot traffic to online sales to customer demographic data, all of the information a retailer collects can be more quickly handled by AI to produce actionable information than if it were collected by a person.
When it comes to specifically cannabis, though, AI is increasingly being used to search databases of cannabis research to identify certain strains that may fit a target audience better than others. Because of the fact that marijuana is illegal at the federal level, each state has its own laws regarding cannabis growth, sales, and use. AI can help an organization keep track of the regulatory measures that apply to them and make sure all aspects of a business remain in compliance, and it can help gather and organize the information necessary to apply for a license in the first place.
Customers have probably already encountered AI in cannabis sales when it comes to chatbots. Some cannabis retailers have websites with AI-powered text that can help a customer figure out what product is best for them. Even more specifically, in the same way AI can help an organization figure out what strains will sell, it can help consumers figure out which ones to buy. Certain apps or website features can take customers’ preferences into account, and based on their input, such as particular traits they’re looking for, direct a customer to a particular kind of cannabis. AI can even instantly tell a customer the nearest location where they can find that product.
The best machine learning products improve with each use, as the technology learns what customers are looking for and as developers apply the latest research to improve them as well. For cannabis marketers, the use of AI is an opportunity to tell customers exactly what kind of a personalized shopping experience an organization can provide.
As always, AI works best when it is used not in place of but instead in conjunction with the people who know how to put the data into action. And it is only as good as the data it is using to provide results. It will take some work up front to figure out what your organization needs to know, and what data is worth examining further in order to make the decisions that will most benefit your business. When it comes to using AI and putting that information to work, all of that time will end up being worth it.