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AI is Shaping the Future of Chemical Distribution

It wasn’t that long ago that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was something fantastical and typically reserved for the movies – but this rapidly-evolving technology is now starting to transform our personal and professional lives.

You’re likely already familiar with website chatbots and virtual helpdesks, available 24/7 and providing responses every bit as accurate and helpful as if you were connected to a human. Maybe you’re using AI to help produce presentations, edit images, or to create videos and marketing material.

It’s still early days, but it’s clear there’s huge potential for this time-saving technology.

“Using AI is like giving your team a smart executive assistant,’ says Gene Marks, AI specialist and CEO of Marks Group, who was interviewed in the latest edition of ACD’s Chemicals in Motion magazine. “It can do a lot of things from drafting a policy, to analyzing the search engine optimization of company websites. It could even give a contract the once-over before a manager passes it on to the legal department.”

There are various AI platforms commonly available, he says. ChatGPT is perhaps the most popular and well known, but there are plenty of other options which are also rapidly gaining traction such as Google Gemini, Microsoft Copilot, and Anthropic.

Both Google and Microsoft are now incorporating AI directly into their various tools and software programs, significantly boosting their analytical capabilities.

AI has many uses, but these relatively nascent tools are ideal as a “second pair of eyes” for quickly looking over documentation and flagging any issues, or for handling the more laborious, time-consuming tasks, notes Marks.

It could, for example, be used to quickly generate presentations, or to scrutinize customer data to help improve workflows and boost productivity.

By utilizing AI with product information, customer relationship management tools, and sales data, it’s even possible to tailor messaging to individual clients, monitor and enhance interactions, and provide sales teams with live information as they stand in front of customers and prospects.

The nature of chemical businesses means that most of us are sitting on significant amounts of stored data that can be harnessed by AI. In fact, many of the bigger players in the industry are now starting to develop their own AI-based systems to help improve their processes and find more efficient ways to produce chemicals.

Marks suggests checking with your IT vendors about their current or upcoming AI offerings and determining the ways in which they can enhance your businesses and improve workflows.

It’s also worth getting your housekeeping in order, ensuring databases are accurate and being used effectively, and to start planning – establishing which products are going to be used, for what, and who will have access to these tools.

For all the opportunities that AI presents, a little caution is still needed. AI does come with some risks.

“Businesspeople will have to balance the risks of their data used in open-source programs being accessed by third parties, whatever the rewards are in terms of productivity,” notes Marks.

Businesses must use good judgement when deciding whether to input information into AI, because once it is entered into the system, it is there to stay. Additionally, bad actors are leveraging AI to aid in their schemes. Be wary of fake invoices, orders, and communications – and always ensure your data, apps, and files are suitably protected.  

Gene Marks was featured in the latest issue of ACD’s Chemicals in Motion, featuring the ICIS Top 100 Chemical Distributors listing. To read the full article, click here and turn to page 16.

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