EBay charts tech-heavy 2018 with new AI chief and upcoming AR tools
- Jan Pedersen, will join eBay Inc. as VP and chief scientist of artificial intelligence, according to a company announcement Tuesday. Pedersen will plot the company's AI strategy and report directly to CTO Steve Fisher.
- In his current position as VP of data science for Twitter and former positions as chief scientist for Yahoo, Amazon A9 and Microsoft, Pedersen led algorithmic search development, data analytics and AI and ML applications. "Jan is a true pioneer in the industry, with over 30 years developing search, deep learning, machine learning and AI technologies at scale," said eBay President and CEO Devin Wenig in the announcement.
- In 2018, eBay plans to hone its AI focus on computer vision, dynamic pricing, search and personalization functions, according to a company announcement. Additionally, the company is using augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality to enhance the retail experience. The company is currently working on an AR kit and features and hopes that, in addition to the personalization afforded by AI tools, these capabilities will make the shopping experience more fun and engaging for consumers, reports Bloomberg.
EBay's growing reliance on advanced technologies is not new for the industry. Online and physical retailers are struggling against the Amazon machine, and advanced technologies are proving critical in keeping up and trying to establish an edge in the market. AI, ML, AR and VR are the next stage of eBay's "multi-year journey to replatform."
EBay has integrated AI capabilities into its technology stack to streamline and enhance the customer experience. In October, the company rolled out AI-based image-recognition search functions and machine learning-based Grouped Listings for tailored user results. In November, it updated its Google Assistant app to improve smart shopping capabilities.
The company is also using ML to improve contextual advertising to bring new and existing customers to the site. ML models can identify how users respond to types of targeting and help the marketing teams fine-tune these models so users receive "contextually relevant" items, according to a company tech blog post.
Pedersen joins the company at a time where AI is establishing itself as the backbone of the company's technological future as "AI sciences including computer vision and deep learning are now capable of transforming personalized, immersive shopping experiences," according to Wenig.
But as AI technologies become deeply embedded across more businesses and industries, the AI talent pool is stretched ever thinner. This means companies need to expend more resources internally training developers how to use AI tools and come up with the large salaries required to obtain effective AI leadership.
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