The Forrester Wave™ for B2B Commerce Solutions Q2 2024
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Riding the AI wave: Don’t be the one who thought the internet was just a fad

Riding the AI wave: Don’t be the one who thought the internet was just a fad

Do you remember the time when we thought smartphones were merely a trend? Or when the notion of streaming movies and shows online was considered a fad? Let's take a stroll down memory lane and recall the skepticism around the internet in the late 90s. People were saying, "Oh, this internet thing? It's just a phase, it'll pass." Well, decades later, we're still waiting for it to pass! 

In the world of commerce, there's a wave coming, and it's powered by artificial intelligence. Now, before you start thinking it's another 'internet phase,' let's look at the facts. More than 25% of the investment in American startups 2023 targeted companies in the artificial intelligence sector, as shown by Crunchbase data - a clear signal of the rising tide of AI innovation. In this fast-paced digital age, businesses that don't adapt to such trends might find themselves left behind, like someone still trying to connect to the internet with a dial-up modem. It's not just about staying current; it's about anticipating the future. As a leader, it's crucial to keep a strategic eye on AI, its developments, and how it can be integrated into your operations. 

AI Harold

Humans vs. exponential growth: The ultimate mind-bender 

Understanding exponential growth isn't exactly humanity's strong suit. Our brains evolved in a world where most things changed incrementally and predictably – the sun rose, the sun set, seasons changed, we aged. If you tossed a stone, you could fairly predict where it would land. In this world, linear thinking served us well. It's intuitive, it's comfortable. You start at point A, move to point B, then on to point C, and so forth. Each step follows the preceding one in a logical, straightforward progression. 

Exponential growth, on the other hand, defies this intuitive understanding. It's like that stone you tossed suddenly sprouts wings and flies off at a blistering speed. Here's the catch: The world of technology doesn't care much for our comfort zones. In fact, it has an uncanny knack for exponential growth. 

"We humans think linearly but tech trends are exponential."

Vinod Khosla, Co-Founder, Sun Microsystems

Consider the famous example of the lily pad. If a lily pad doubles in size every day and it takes 30 days to cover a pond completely, when is the pond half covered? The intuitive answer might be 15 days, but the correct answer is 29 days. That's the power of exponential growth – it sneaks up on you, and when it takes off, it can be mind-bogglingly fast. 

The rise of the internet and, more recently, AI, are classic cases of exponential growth. For years, progress seems slow and incremental, almost imperceptible. But suddenly, we find ourselves in a world where AI is everywhere, transforming every industry, from commerce to healthcare, from transportation to entertainment. And the pace of change is only accelerating. 

As leaders, as strategists, we must strive to understand and navigate this exponential landscape. It's time to step out of our linear comfort zones and prepare for a future that's arriving at breakneck speed. It's not just about keeping up anymore – it's about staying ahead. It's about understanding that the future is not just a continuation of the present. It's a whole new world, and it's unfolding at an exponential pace. 

AI Copilot overview

Shopware's AI Copilot currently supports over ten AI features, with additional functionalities planned for future updates.

At Shopware, we've taken this to heart. We've launched the "AI Copilot", a suite of AI functionalities designed to streamline merchant operations and elevate the ecommerce experience. These features range from an AI-generated product review summary and AI-based customer classification to AI-powered content creation for shopping experiences and translations for reviews. We see this as a game changer, helping turn merchants into 'super merchants' by streamlining processes, cutting costs and creating a personalized brand identity. 

We see a future where commerce will be divided into two main spheres: the automated and the experience-driven. On the one hand, AI agents will handle the mundane, ordering all the things we don't want to fuss with. It's like having a personal assistant who knows your coffee preference and ensures you never run out of beans. On the other hand, we'll have experience-driven commerce, where shopping becomes a leisure activity, an exploration of new ideas and products. 

So how can you, as an early adopter, navigate this AI wave? Start by making it a strategic priority at the highest level. Have a solid plan and a detailed roadmap. Think about how you can integrate AI into your operations. Can it help improve customer experience? Can it make your processes more efficient? Can it help you understand your customers better?  

Landing the alien tech: AI demo data generator 

AI can sometimes seem like an alien technology – too complex and advanced for earthlings to comprehend. But fear not, for open-source communities like the one around Shopware are making the impossible possible. 

One stellar example of this collaborative spirit is the AI demo data generator, developed by Christian Dangl. It's a testament to the power of community collaboration and the democratization of AI technology. This tool, like many open-source projects, brings the distant and unfamiliar world of AI closer to home, making it more accessible and manageable for businesses of all sizes. The AI demo data generator offers a glimpse of the tangible benefits of AI in digital commerce, highlighting the efficiency it can bring to business operations. It's not just about understanding the alien language of AI, but about learning to converse with it, to bring about a revolution in the business world. 

It's time for businesses to embrace these technologies, to learn from these collaborative efforts, and to join the open-source communities in their journey towards a more efficient and AI-driven future. Remember, the future of commerce isn't something that just happens to us. We shape it with our actions, our innovations, and our willingness to embrace new technologies.

Let's be on the forefront of these developments together, shaping the future of commerce for the better. 

P.S.: For those who are worried about machines taking over, remember, they said the same thing about calculators. And yet, we still haven't forgotten how to do math! Well, most of us haven't ... 

Riding the AI wave: We will not get terminated
Image Stefan Hamann

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