2019 will be remembered for many things, but in the realm of buzzwords, ‘machine learning’ is likely to win the grand prize. Machine learning, a subdomain of Artificial Intelligence, refers to programmed mathematical models where — based on observing copious amounts of data — software can be trained to reach the right conclusions from that data and make highly accurate future projections/predictions.
The challenge isn’t the definition of the word, however. It’s the fact that the term is increasingly used incorrectly by software providers that claim to use the technology, but are not. The proliferation of these inaccurate claims isn’t without consequence. Misrepresentation is confusing and disingenuous for buyers looking to successfully leverage machine learning to improve their last-mile operations.
So, if you’re looking at next-generation routing software and a vendor is talking about the importance of machine learning, consider it an invitation to learn more. Take the opportunity to ensure that what they’re selling is, in fact, machine learning-based technology, rather than a future machine-learning plan that’s not grounded in today’s offerings. How, exactly, are you supposed to do that — especially if you’re not a software engineer or a data scientist? Ask lots of questions and understand how the vendor is using machine learning in their solution. Here is a list of questions to get the conversation going:
- Where and how is machine learning used in your software?
- What benefits is machine learning delivering to your other clients today
- How do you gather the data that is used in your machine learning algorithms?
- Does your data-gathering strategy provide enough data for your models? What is the minimum amount of data that is needed to get a meaningful outcome?
- How does your machine learning improve routing, fleet utilization, and customer service?
- Can your machine learning implementation help onboard new drivers?
- Ask them to explain to you in simple terms how the machine learning model is working.
As Albert Einstein said – “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Ask them to explain it to you in simpler terms. There are many other questions, but the above are a starting point. You want detailed answers with specifics so that you can understand whether the way machine learning is being used will deliver the business benefits you’re looking for.
At Wise Systems, Machine Learning is at the heart of our platform and essential to our autonomous dispatch and routing vision. We use machine learning to improve the quality of results that our platform gives to clients, and our research, development, and productization efforts all center on the technology. We’re excited for the impact that machine learning is having across the logistics industry as a whole, and the last-mile, in particular. What we don’t want is for bad actors or false advertisements to muddy the waters. So, unleash your inner detective, ask lots of questions, and be better informed about Machine Learning!