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LEAP into New Worlds – Kellanova and the AI Revolution

By Ramesh Kollepara, Chief Technology Officer, Kellanova

Earlier this year, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the world's largest technology conference, LEAP 2024, held in Saudi Arabia. My inaugural attendance at this conference left me in awe as it brought together the best technological minds worldwide and provided a platform for exchanging ideas and forging connections, further reinforcing my belief in technology's power to drive positive change.

I participated on a panel with other CTOs on leading in the age of innovation and AI, and I witnessed active collaboration in action as I had the opportunity to interact with CEOs of leading tech companies and learn from their expertise.

As we continue our digital journey at Kellanova, the insights and inspiration gained from events like LEAP will fuel Kellanova’s pursuit to use technology as a catalyst for inclusion, innovation, and business success. Here are the core strategies Kellanova is prioritizing to "leap" into the new world where AI is enabling in business:   

  • Equipping our workforce to thrive alongside AI. Kellanova's philosophy focuses on building a learning culture which is vital to stay competitive. Through our YODA (Year of Development Always) education program, we're upskilling our IT colleagues for the AI revolution via:
    • Technical skills – Ensuring our teams are up to date on new programming languages, data science that can better inform predictions, and machine learning algorithms that will help us build new AI models.
    • Soft skills – AI can be complex, so we must be able to communicate with both technical and non-technical colleagues by improving our creative processes and emotional intelligence, which helps IT better collaborate on AI projects across the enterprise.
    • Industry-specific skills – We must have domain knowledge of our sector and know how our peers leverage AI, ethics, governance, and bias awareness.
       
  • Guardrails for AI. Based on what we have learned from past AI pilots, we've built a framework to help guide us.
    • Start with a business-backed problem – AI should serve as a means to an end rather than the sole objective.
    • Convert a business problem into a data problem – We translate our business challenge into a clear brief that the design and deployment team can understand and get excited about.
    • Governance – Our cross-functional advisory council evaluates proposed use cases and develops risk appropriate governance. We closely follow developing laws, regulations, and frameworks about AI, plan and execute compliance activities aligned with laws and regulations regarding data, privacy, and technology, and ensure our partners throughout the value chain do the same.
    • Ensure the right talent mix – Not all technologists, data scientists, etc. are the same. Different skill sets are required to engineer inputs that can transform model outputs into actionable insights.
    • Establish the right tech stack – This is essential for conducting data analysis effectively.
    • Embrace data hygiene – Maintaining clean data and a standardized taxonomy is critical for accurate and meaningful data analysis.
       
  • Embracing a test-and-learn culture. Only about 15% of AI projects succeed initially, and that's ok. We can learn from failures and AI can unlock growth opportunities with the right approach.
    • We've signaled this belief across our organization and recently launched our "Kuriosity Clinics," giving our colleagues – regardless of title, or function – the opportunity to be curious and explore Gen AI with Microsoft Copilot for the web. We have had an exceptional response – nearly 6,000 people have attended the optional clinics, with lively interaction and many creative ideas. You never know; our next new snack may be inspired by AI!

As a result of our AI pilots, we've unlocked growth by optimizing supply chain efficiencies, optimized e-commerce search, improved assortment and reduced out of stocks to increase sales, and leveraged data to get closer to our consumers.

As we leap into the future, we continue to reimagine the way we do every aspect of business with the help of AI, and we look forward to bringing you along on our journey.

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