The nation’s largest supermarket chain, Walmart, has moved forward in providing over 50,000 office workers with a generative AI app. According to Axios, this program was announced on August 30th and will affect their non-store staff primarily.
The AI app is trained on corporate information and in short, its purpose is to assist the nation’s largest grocer’s workers. Some of the tasks the app is reported to help with include document summarization and content creation.
Walmart’s move into generative AI is only its latest over the years. On the company’s website, it showcases a few case studies on how it plans on using AI for both employees and customers. What makes Walmart’s move more interesting is that as one of the largest retailers in the world, it could be seen as a further shift into AI that other companies will likely follow.
So far, Walmart has declined to name the third-party large language model that is being used, but the app itself is part of the company’s broader “Me@Campus” app for employees. This program works on both smartphones and desktops.
In a LinkedIn post on the move, Donna Morris, Executive Vice President, Chief People Officer at Walmart, “The significance of this launch goes above and beyond the basic benefits of GenAI, like productivity gains.”
She went on to state, “We believe the key to unlocking transformation lies in the creativity and innovation of our associates. Ideally, this technology will free them from monotonous, repetitive tasks, allowing more time and focus for improving the customer/member experience.”
Morris continued to point out the company’s vision of seeing AI used by the wider workforce instead of it being limited to a few, “Just picture the scale of what we can accomplish by putting a simple, easy-to-use GenAI tool in the hands of tens of thousands of associates, versus limiting the use of GenAI to just a few.”
Morris was also quick to state some important limitations of AI. Chiefly, it’s inability to make proper judgment calls. “GenAI can help us work faster and more efficiently, but it also has limitations: it lacks judgment, has a limited understanding of context, and is only as good as the data it’s trained on.”
It seems that Walmart is taking a cue from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who said earlier this year that AI is best suited to empower human labor, not replace human labor.