How Harley Davidson Is Using AI And Robots To Prepare For The 4th Industrial Revolution
2 July 2021
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, where advanced digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning and the internet of things interact with the physical world and will impact our daily lives, how we relate to one another and how we work, has the world’s top executives and companies preparing for the changes that the revolution will create. American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson is one of those companies who has already begun to use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics. Let’s look at a few ways Harley-Davidson is getting ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Artificial intelligence increased sales leads by 2,930%
When you think about effective marketing for a Harley-Davidson dealership, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably not the ways you can use artificial intelligence to ramp up your results. It’s a good thing the owner of New York City’s Harley dealership, Asaf Jacobi decided to give AI a try, because it increased the dealership’s leads by 2,930% in just three periods.
That is a remarkable number for a start-up, but for an established brand such as Harley-Davidson, that was extraordinary.
Although Jacobi had started researching options to boost sales at his dealership in the off-season and came across some AI tools for marketing and advertising, it was his chance meeting with Or Shani, the CEO of AI firm Algorithm, which had an AI-driven marketing platform called Albert that convinced Jacobi to give it a try.
How Albert works and the results it got for Harley-Davidson
The first test of Albert was a weekend promotion called “48 Bikes in 48 Hours.” They sold 15 motorcycles that weekend, nearly doubling the summer sales record of eight bikes sold in one weekend.
Albert used business logic, the KPIs available for Harley-Davidson NYC and past campaign performance to identify unknown audiences, the best budget allocation across digital channels and even evaluate the performance of different word choices or colors on the creative. Albert processed the data it had been given to figure out trending behavior. It continued to optimize the marketing and ad performance as new data continued to come in.
Albert executes digital ad campaigns autonomously and adjusts them automatically based on performance. It can figure out the audiences that are most likely to convert, compare platforms and implement learning across platforms, and discover what creative worked better. AI can do this exponentially faster than humans, in virtually real-time.
Here’s what Albert was able to do for Harley-Davidson NYC:
- The dealership credits Albert with 40% of its motorcycle sales over a six-month period.
- In just three months, they had an increase of 2,930% in leads, with 50% of those being from lookalikes, prospects with similar buying patterns and preferences as those likely to purchase Harley-Davidsons. This insight opened up an entirely new audience that they had previously not marketed to.
- Albert also discovered that Facebook ads converted 8.5 times higher than other Harley ads, so they focused their advertising efforts only on platforms that worked.
New factory optimized for more expensive workforce
Unlike many manufacturers, when you walk into the Harley-Davidson plant in York, Pa, you will still find human workers assembling the iconic motorcycles by hand. Although the factory was redesigned, it still has people everywhere. Workers operate in teams of five or six to build each bike. Since virtually every bike is one-of-a-kind, humans are uniquely qualified to adjust on the fly when it’s necessary to create these customized bikes.
Humans are also better equipped to solve problems that contribute to inefficiencies. In one example, a plastic piece that held electrical parts wasn’t fitting correctly. It caused the workers to have to spend an additional 1.2 seconds to push it into place. Seconds seem like a tiny amount of time, but when you add that up for each bike that is manufactured, this slight inefficiency resulted in 2,200 lost bikes annually and millions in revenue. It took one 20-year veteran and a team of other skilled workers to develop a simple solution.
Harley-Davidson uses robotic solutions when it makes sense in what is known as collaborative robotics, but prefers to use humans exclusively on the assembly floor. Robots are used for dangerous or repetitive work, and humans handle the work that requires higher technical skills and on-the-fly decision-making.
Harley-Davidson illustrates how a company can leverage the technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a way that honors its brand and creates a collaborative work environment between humans and machines to create efficiencies, increased sales and lower costs.
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