Two trends collide as a UK brewing startup uses AI to drive new product innovation
Do you like your beer to have a hint of hop or do you prefer something darker, perhaps with notes of tobacco and chocolate? Customer feedback is hugely valuable to small businesses, though not always easy to gather or interpret. Fortunately London-based startup IntelligentX claims to have used artificial intelligence (AI) technology to tweak the recipe for four beers based on its customers’ preferences.
First, codes printed on the bottles point consumers toward a Facebook Messenger bot, which proceeds to gather their feedback. Next, an algorithm computes the answers and learns to alter the questions that it asks to get better results. The brewers then gradually tailor each beer in response to the aggregated feedback. During the initial year-long trial, the brewer has already tweaked its four main lines – Golden, Amber, Pale and Black – 11 times since they were first brewed.
In the company’s eyes, the main benefit is getting unparalleled access to the consumer. Hew Leith, co-founder of IntelligentX, said of the technology: “The AI is about putting all the customers in the same room as the brewer.”
It’s not surprising that companies like IntelligentX are looking to create a point of difference. Thanks to the craft beer revolution, a new brewery is opening in Britain every other day. According to community pubs minister Marcus Jones: “Britain has returned to its rightful role as a global brewing powerhouse.”
And the company is not alone in embracing AI. London has attracted some of the industry’s brightest tech minds, who are collaborating with academia to drive innovation in the field of robotics, data and AI. Success stories include SwiftKey – which started life at University College London – and DeepMind, a company that famously created the first AI programme to beat a human at the board game Go.
Commenting on the potential benefits of AI for businesses in Tech City News, Abdul Razack, head of big data & analytics at Infosys, the information technology consulting corporation, said: “AI platforms will help us automate systems and business processes. Be that capturing information, orchestrating requests or even being the front-line interface for an organisation or entire business sector the rise of automation and AI systems and services that will power the next great business push.”
Only time will tell if the AI trend will take off or fizzle out, but it’s certainly making beer production more democratic and customer-centric. Cheers to that.