All this talk about ChatGPT and AI. But what exactly is AI and what does it mean for suppliers to the fuel industry?
Let’s start with a definition. Artificial Intelligence, simply put, is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. By this definition, much of the automation processes our companies offer is already AI.
But something has changed. Over the last few years the abundance of data has allowed for the training of more complex AI models. What’s more is they have become more simple to use.
Take ChatGPT as an example. If you haven’t already heard, ChatGPT is a natural language processing tool that anyone can use. Just type in a question or a request and it responds. It’s not perfect, but it’s learning every day.
The potential impact of this sort of intelligence is never ending (although Terminator does come to mind). It may not happen today, but this new level of AI will be coming to the fuel market, so it is important to understand how it might impact it.
So, in the spirit of the article, I asked ChatGPT itself how AI might impact the fuel industry.
It started by telling me that it can enhance the customer experience, offering ‘chatbots’ that can assist customers, but more interestingly it could eliminate the need for cards or cash through facial recognition. If you’re in the payment card industry, take note.
The analysing of data from sensors and equipment to predict maintenance requirements came next. Ok, that’s cool ChatGPT, but monitoring equipment in real time to identify issues before they result in breakdowns or service disruptions is something already offered. But it occurs to me that in many cases it has a human element that could likely disappear in the next few years. Improvements in this area mean less callouts and less site visits, resulting in less engineers needed on the payroll.
Things got really interesting from a fuel supplier perspective. AI will not only enhance wholesale trading and improve hedging, but also management of inventory and delivery schedules. With this improved service, trust from retailers will likely go up in vendor managed inventory, so we will see more retailers agreeing to let their fuel suppliers manage their deliveries.
With many retailers suffering from rising costs, energy efficiency couldn’t be more relevant. According to ChatGPT (who I am now talking to as if it were sat across from me in the pub), data from energy usage, weather conditions, and customer traffic patterns will be used to optimise energy consumption in lighting, heating, and cooling systems.
If you’re in the EV market, AI will better manage charging stations, optimising both their usage and availability. This will make putting charging points on site more appealing for both consumers and retailers.
And then I decided to get more specific. What about marketing? Customer segmentation and personalisation, predictive behavioural analytics (importantly including demand), pricing optimisation, and sentiment analysis were all mentioned.
As a marketer myself, my feeling on AI is that it will make my life easier. ChatGPT alone is reducing the time I spend writing content by about 50%. I will have more information at my fingertips to engage properly with the right customers. Saying that, whilst I am not a user of dating apps they did come to mind. Meeting people is more accessible, but it is more accessible for everybody. You can meet more people, but so can they. The point is, expect a lot more noise and the quality of your competition’s marketing activities to go up.
I finished up by asking ChatGPT if it intends to take over the world. It assured me that it doesn’t have intentions, desires, or even the capability to take over the world. It’s here to impact the world positively.
But it would say that, wouldn’t it?
And the question Mark asked of ChatGPT
How will AI impact marketing in the petrol industry please mate?
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