AI can enhance creativity in business

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

CREATIVE USE of artificial intelligence (AI) can change every kind of business, from fast moving consumer goods companies to retailers to banks, according to Thoughtworks director of data and AI practice, David Colls.

He said creative AI could be used to generate content, new products and strategic ideas.

“It there’s one thing AI is good at, it’s scaling to big numbers and I think that there’s an opportunity to use the best of people’s creative insights and talent and AI’s ability to search through big spaces and generate novel concepts,” Mr Colls told Talking Business

“And there are a lot of drivers for innovation at the moment. Ongoing adoption of new digital technologies, responding to climate change, responding to public health and the COVID pandemic and other economic factors, so the more you can explore these areas of uncertainty, the more opportunity you might unlock.”

As an example, he cited the way the Finnish part of Thoughtworks had transformed the business of Swedish distillery Mackmyra using AI.

The AI team looked at all the decisions that went into making whisky, like the grain, the time, the peat, the selection of the cask and process, and then looked at how consumers perceived different whiskies. Then they created a new whisky to capture the market.

The AI was actually creating a new product by exploring the space that had not occurred to the human distillers.

“You can look at any product in the same way that the team did at Mackmyra as a series of design decisions or design parameters and then you can try and characterise its performance in the market as a test or as a model that can be run,” Mr Colls said

AI can assist supply chains too

He said AI could be particularly useful in the digital space and for supply chains and customer service and the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space.

This could not only be applied to physical products but to services as well, he said, examining the service characteristics and customer experience. This would be particularly good for retailers. 

“If you look at a retail product catalogue, you can identify areas where there are potentially gaps in the catalogue with these sorts of techniques,” Mr Colls said.

“We might have a range of shoes, there might be another style that’s emerging in another part of the catalogue, say jackets and it might be that the AI able to identify some common thread between two different elements of the product portfolio.”

Mr Colls said AI would also be good for banks and insurers

Using AI to design call centre experiences

Thoughtworks had also worked in the area of designing call centre experiences

Mr Colls said AI could boost employee morale and ensure companies retain workers, where AI is used by staff to do their work.

“In this creative space, it can be like working with another creative partner who has particular abilities in a design space,” Mr Colls said.

“You can use these tools to help you come up with more ideas that you might not have thought of yourself.

“You might use them to help you develop those ideas faster and to improve productivity. You can use it to test ideas, to get fast feedback on ideas that might otherwise take some time to validate,” he said.

“It provides a number of avenues for development and growth and ongoing learning which is very important for people.”  


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

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