4 Ways Walmart Is Using AI & Big Data to Improve The Customer Experience

Walmart is one of the oldest retail chains in the country, however, it is still on the cutting age of retail technology. Since, 1962, Walmart has remained relevant by providing a seamless customer experience and today, to do that they are bridging the gap between online and in-store retail. 

Check out these four ways Walmart is remaining innovative during the age of big data: 

  1. Pick-Up Towers 

Walmart launched 16 x 8-foot self-service kiosks at the entrance of stores for customers to retrieve online orders. Customers who’ve purchased items online can just scan the barcode on their online receipt and their products appear on a conveyor belt 45 seconds later.  The Walmart Pick-Up Towers have been an improvement over their traditional pickup process. 

      2.  Facial Recognition

Walmart is researching ways to use machines to identify levels of frustration on customers as they wait in line. The machines will learn to identify different levels of frustration. As the machines become more intelligent they could trigger additional resources to run the checkouts. 

     3. IoT to Monitor Products

Walmart filed a patent application to integrate IoT tags to products. These tags would provide insights into product usage, auto replace products. It would also monitor expiration dates and product recalls. The data collected would help Walmart determine when and where products are being used.  The patent relies on a variety of technology including Bluetooth and barcodes. 

For marketers, the data collected through this patent could help create personalized advertising and cross-selling opportunities. 

The tech world looks forward to the next level of Walmart retail innovation. Hopefully, it will be to buy me milk every time I runout and forget to buy. 


ISPs and Internet Privacy

Back in October, the FCC passed a law that never went into effect. This law would have required that Internet Service Providers receive explicit consent from consumers if sensitive data like financial or health information, or browsing history were to be shared or sold. The law never went into effect because Congress repealed it recently.

Today advertisers’ audiences are spread across devices. Internet Service Providers are the missing piece of information that advertisers need to connect internet users across devices. There is an incredible amount of user behavior data in this. This would greatly increase the amount of data that is mined from people and sold to companies.

For advertisers, the most interested and valuable data is search, social media data and ISPs can get them closer to understanding this.  Would this give marketers and advertisers too much of an insight into consumers?  Or because this is the time of instant gratification,  do today’s consumers want hyper targeted advertisements to cut out media noise?



3 Companies Bridging The Digital Divide

What is the Digital Divide?

The digital divide is the gap between demographics, regions, and personal choices that separate the computer literate an the computer illiterate. This is the difference between persons with access to modern information and information platforms. The digital divide exists between:

  • the educated and uneducated
  • between socioeconomic groups
  • globally – nations that have access and nations that do not or have limited/restricted

The digital divide can be seen in low-performance computers, lower-speed wireless connections, limited access to subscription-based content and more…


The digital divide is very real. In a 2013 study, the U.S White House broadband report showed that only 71% of American homes have adopted broadband. 


How can we improve on the digital divide?

There are many ways to improve the digital divide including:

  • improved literacy
  • democracy
  • social mobility
  • economic growth
  • economic equality


3 Companies Helping Bridge The Digital Divide Gap

  1. Amazon Prime Student Subscription

Prime student seeks to bridge the digital divide for students. If you have a .edu email address you can sign up for Prime Student. This give you access to a free six-month Amazon Prime trial. You will receive free two day shipping on eligible products, unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and media, unlimited photo storage and student exclusive discounts/deals. At the ends of the trial, you will be eligible for 50% off a Prime membership.

    2. Comcast’s Internet Essentials

Internet Essentials seeks to bridge the digital divide for low-income families. It provides families discounted monthly broadband internet service. They also provide the hardware on a need basis. The program takes bridging the digital divide a step further by also offering extensive free digital literacy instruction, on-line and in-person in English or Spanish.

     3. The Accountability Lab

The Accountability Lab is trying to bridge the digital divide gap globally. They are currently working with the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism in Liberia to build an open data hub and government information portal. This project combined with mobile penetration and internet literacy initiatives are helping provide critical information to thousands of citizens in Liberia.




What is ‘Social’ by ‘Social Definitions’?

Social media – we live by it, companies are desperately trying to grasp it, and your older relatives are telling you it is rotting your brain. (Funny thing is they use it more than anyone!)

We are all familiar with the concept- create your profile, build your friend base…use it…use it…use it. But what actually is a social network and what makes it social? Why are all website social media? You can interact with people on them. You can create a profile on some of them, make comments, and engage with others, but many of our favorite websites that do this are not considered ‘social’ by the ‘social definition’.  So, what is a social network and what defines it? 

What is a social network?

Social networks are virtual communities, usually profile based, that bring people together who share certain interests or ideas, to interact with each other, make new friends, and post media. On social networks, millions of different people can create new content to be distributed, shared, or altered. Sounds similar to a website right? Wrong, there are 3 distinct features that a social network must have to define it as ‘social’.

What defines a social network?

A social networking site is defined as a web-based service that allows individuals to:

  1. Construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system. 
  2. Articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection. 
  3. View and traverse their list of connection and those made by others within in the system.

This defines a ‘true’ social network, according to a 2007 scholarly article by Boyd and Ellison.

Now that you know the true definition of a social network, which platforms that you use are ‘social’ by ‘social definitions’?