Greetings to All,
With the end of the year on the horizon, it is time to take a deep breath and look back on a year that was as unpredictable as it was rich in learning experiences. This year, we've experienced both the positives of the remarkable advancements in AI and the challenges of a rough financial climate.
Generative Pre-Trained Transformers (GPTs), and specifically ChatGPT, have lowered the entry barrier for AI adoption while displaying an impressive array of skills. The speed of adoption is mind-blowing - at my local barbershop, there’s a wall of pictures with hairstyles made with “GenAI”. This technology is bound to touch every industry in the shortest amount of time.
At the same time, we've faced strong economic headwinds – rising interest rates and a slowing economy have touched us all. Some of the signs were closer to home than others: one of our investors closed a 1/10th of the investments they did the year prior, and in December, the law firm we partner with is handling three separate company closures.
To call it a rollercoaster would be an understatement.
The Dawn of Specialised AI Solutions
As we navigate this sea of change, we recognise the long road ahead to AI commoditisation, and that the adoption curve is just at its beginning. Off-the-shelf AI solutions that meet the demanding needs of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands are far away from today’s reality. This brings us to a common question: How do we compare to giants like Google or Microsoft? Their cloud offerings are growing every year, and with the advent of Large Language Models, one can only wonder what’s the ceiling for what AI can do.
While certain aspects like infrastructure and algorithms are becoming more accessible, the true value lies in the specifics of the industry - the nitty-gritty details that define success in the CPG space. This dichotomy reminds me of Archilochus' fox-hedgehog parable: 'The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.' In the realm of CPG, it's the experts (hedgehogs) who thrive amidst the generalists (foxes).
Our ability to focus on the distinction lies in two key areas: catalogue specificity and technology robustness. For instance, while Microsoft might offer the latest GPT-4 Vision models integrated into their cloud offering, they aren’t getting anywhere near the level of specificity required to understand a complex retail scenario. Neurolabs’ strength is our up-to-date product catalogue matched with the latest AI algorithms - a level of specificity and robustness that, in my opinion, neither Google through their retail-specific Product Recogniser solution nor Microsoft with Cloud for Retail can currently match.
Looking Ahead: From Shelf Visibility to Actionable Insights
As we move into 2024, our vision is clear. We will push the boundaries of what AI can offer in the CPG space. Beyond offering visibility on the shelf execution and supply chain, AI models can deliver actionable insights to the field agent, marketing manager, and the head of sales alike.
Throughout this year, I often resonated with the concept of the 'Innovator’s Dilemma' - a successful company will struggle to adapt to new technologies because they are focused solely on refining their existing products. Throughout the year, it became evident that this challenge is omnipresent in Retail and CPG sectors. The urgent need for AI and automation adoption is recognised quickly by leaders in the space, as it is evident that what used to work yesterday will no longer work tomorrow. Labour shortages and the demand for more efficient supply chains will force the adoption to happen, even in an industry often called a laggard.
In closing, I extend my deepest gratitude to every member of the Neurolabs team and our patient shareholders. Your dedication, creativity, and hard work have been the driving force behind Neurolabs closing the year with 3x the revenue that we started with. Together, we are not bystanders in the AI revolution; we are at its forefront, shaping the future with a focus on our target market - the Consumer Packaged Goods space.
To our clients, I thank you for putting your trust in us from an early stage. It’s a long journey ahead, and it’s a privilege to have all of you supporting us as we navigate these uncharted waters. It is your insights and feedback that push us to innovate and strive for excellence.
Wishing you all a prosperous and groundbreaking new year.