Why adopting artificial intelligence may be easier—and better for your agrifood business—than you think


The adoption of new technology can significantly impact a company’s ability to scale its operations and compete in new markets. Unfortunately, adopting such new technology—particularly tools such as artificial intelligence (AI)—is often seen as burdensome. But that’s a reputation it doesn’t necessarily deserve.

“AI can actually simplify your business processes, once you’ve figured out how it fits in,” said Mai Mavinkurve, an AI and data innovator. “There are so many processes in our day-to-day that can be augmented, improved, simplified by AI.”

According to Mavinkurve, relatively few of the skills needed to bring AI into a company’s toolkit are related to AI itself. While it’s important not to lose sight of AI skills or the technical needs of adopting such technology, she stressed that companies need to maintain focus on the business plan behind why they’re adopting AI. Questions a company should consider include the following:

  • What is your opportunity?
  • Who are the customers?
  • What is your strategy to stay ahead of the competitors?
  • What are the legal, regulatory and ethical issues in building your AI business?

On the more technical side, she recommends considering what data is available to fill out your AI model, how you’re attracting the right technical talent to your team and what algorithms you’re considering.

“To bring an AI product to market is probably 10 per cent AI or machine learning skills, and 90 per cent data, infrastructure, innovation mindset, business motivation and all the other usual business drivers for success,” Mavinkurve said.

Taking this into account, and working to flesh out a business plan as fully as possible before embarking on an AI adoption journey, can set a company up to receive the full set of benefits that AI technology can bring—everything from process optimization, to a reduction in human error, to new revenue streams and cost savings. The combination can mean significant opportunities for companies throughout Canada’s plant-based food and ingredient sector, helping them meet the growing global demand for protein faster and more sustainably.