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AiThority Interview with Aiden Heke, Chief Executive Officer at Decision

Aiden Heke, Chief Executive Officer at Decision

Please tell us about your current role in the company and how you arrived at Decision Inc.

I am the Australian CEO and have responsibility for growing the business organically and inorganically in line with our broader global capabilities. I had a list of the attributes of the next role for me and I was surprised and delighted to find Decision Inc. (DI) ticked all the boxes. Prior to this role, I have worked on the client and service provider side in a range of senior technology roles.

What has been the biggest change in the AI for retail industry in the last 2-3 years?

We’re seeing a greater appetite to explore the opportunities created by technology becoming mainstream. In particular, there is a move to explore AI and ML technology with a view to making it more accessible to the average business user. AI enabled only by data scientists is not scalable in most businesses, and as such established and emerging technologies are looking to simplify access and usability for lower complexity use cases. This is great news for our industry but will put pressure on corporate learning teams as they race to lift data literacy across the organisation.

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Tell us a little bit about your recent partnership with Provenio.ai and how it will transform the supply chain with hyper-automation and AI.

Provenio.ai has been designed from the ground up to consider multiple data capture scenarios and has a composable AI and rules engine that allows Decision Inc. and Provenio to apply the technology to multiply business issues within retail. This has the power to reduce manual analysis and action. Essentially Provenio joins ML, AI and robotic process automation technology together within one platform, and is best used anywhere where large data sets drive business performance. Our focus is on productivity in scale businesses as the Australian economy works hard to stave off a lengthy recession.

What kind of technological capabilities influence the transformation of modern Supply Chain and Logistics Operations?

The combination of technologies, business processes and people – as it has always been – is where transformation can be delivered. We believe combining multiple elements together helps identify and enhance value, even in technology. This is why we are bullish on Provenio and a number of our other advanced analytics partnerships with similar approaches. For example, how do we combine geo location data with logistics data from a transport management system to provide a digital solution to a non-compliant business process to identify DIFOT (delivery in full, on time) excellence? These are the sorts of technology capabilities that will ultimately underpin supply chain and logistics transformation while delivering huge value to customers.

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How is AI and data analytics part of this transformation?

Data has to be made available across multiple systems and brought together to provide insight and ultimately improved decision making for clients. AI becomes relevant when the business and the technology solution are mature enough and deep enough in experience to allow it to take over some aspects of business decision making, and when it is in a position to offer a better, faster outcome than an employee.

We are witnessing so much development in the fields of smart mobility, last mile delivery, customer experience and reverse logistics, are retail companies really prepared for all kinds of challenges that traditionally affect the supply chain?

Some of the larger retailers are well down this path with early investments in data and analytics, even at a point when they were not really clear what problems and opportunities they would solve. Most mid-market retailers are still coming to terms with the core fundamentals of data and analytics. Strategy, platform, governance, people, and process all need to be defined and implemented before we get serious about AI/ML and the possibilities it can deliver. It doesn’t mean customers can’t experiment, but they need to be realistic on scalability and being production ready. That’s why we like to start from the beginning and help clients accelerate through these foundational steps first.

What are the major challenges that Automation and AI solutions could completely solve for Freight service companies?

The possibilities are somewhat endless but the biggest challenge right now in industries such as freight and shipping is creating scalable, production-ready solutions. It’s important to find initial opportunities in the business that derive sufficient value to merit the experimentation and investment. Bringing stakeholders along the journey is critical and establishing the right technology and platforms will help companies effectively scale.

Please tell us about the future you foresee for the ethical use of AI and machine learning in other relatable industries that you plan to dive into.

An area of strong growth, relevant across all industries, is the need to provide adequate ESG reporting solutions to demonstrate successful decarbonisation efforts. This is a minefield of manual processes, disparate and distributed data sources all coming together within a system to be reconciled against any number of constantly moving standards and frameworks. In this arena of complexity, Scope 3 emissions are soon to be an industry-wide challenge at scale. We believe there has to be a role for ML and ethical AI to help simplify the complex and provide the right recommendations and decisions to drive shareholder value. We are excited (and somewhat daunted!) by the challenge and opportunities as we continue to explore this field this year.

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Your advice to AI innovators when it comes to providing solutions to the Machine learning and Data Management industry.

Design with the end in mind. Consider how to develop solutions for scale use cases that can be easily productionised. This has been Provenio.ai’s approach and allowed it to quickly penetrate an industry. It’s important to partner with service providers that are interested in the whole data and analytics lifecycle – strategy to implementation – and leaving a data-literate client ready to embrace the possibilities of analytics, ML and AI.

Is there a webinar or live conference you are most excited about attending and why? (Aiden this is good opportunity to promote any upcoming Decision Inc. or partner activities…MWP webinar for example)

We’ve put together a nine-part Executive Education Series for Data and Analytics (insert link to series). Each video takes you through the topics most organisations ask us when considering becoming a data-driven business. This can be considered a crash course in Data and Analytics. The series aims to equip organisations with a greater sense of considerations to take across the journey towards data maturity – from where and how to start, to implementing best practice and more, each video will walk you through the basics of data.

Thank you, Aiden! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

Aiden Heke is the Chief Executive Officer at Decision Inc. Australia. With more than two decades of experience in a number of leadership roles across Australia and the United Kingdom, Aiden is responsible for leading the direction of the independent data and analytics consultancy across the country. He is committed to furthering Decision Inc.’s global vision of helping organisations become data driven with relevant and intelligent industry solutions. He works closely with Decision Inc. founder Nicholas Bell and the leadership team in the UK and South Africa to ensure that we continues to drive a collective global strategy and continue to grow as a knowledge centre for its clients and their business. Heke has a strong track record as a leader and decision-maker at organisations including NTT and Woolworths in Australia; and Thames Water, Macquarie Bank, AT&T and EDS in the UK.

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Decision Inc. is a leading independent data and analytics consultancy which delivers value from data faster. We serve the Australian community and industry and believe great data and analytics expertise will underpin economic recovery and prosperity. We provide insights and accelerated business improvement capabilities to help our clients in their pursuit of progress.

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