Skip to content. Skip to navigation
CIM Menus


Enterprise Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, & the Future of Retailing on the Brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Gautam Shroff
Tata Consultancy Services

August 16, 2017 at  3:30 PM
Room 645, Executive Institute, 1001 Sherbrooke West, Montreal

To RSVP please click here

Since the year 2000, around the time that big data penetrated all social and economic sectors, we have witnessed the emergence of the Intelligent Web. This has led to diverse threads of AI research coming together in the continued effort to enrich and better target online knowledge and communications. It was inevitable that these technologies would become pervasive across society. Today, the many industries impacted by these trends are seeking to leverage them not only by adopting AI technologies in current operations, but also by changing the way they do business. Banks are going beyond being accountants of money and facilitators of payments, exploiting the data to which they are privy. By tracking information such as who pays whom for what, they can help merchants innovate with their advertising and pricing strategies. Insurance companies, for example, can move from provision to prevention via mobile apps that track the driving behavior of customers and reward those with safe habits. Likewise, car manufacturers are beginning to use data from the hundreds of sensors that populate each modern vehicle to better predict failures and prevent costly recalls. Similar trends can be observed for telecom operators, utility companies, agri-food, hospitals, and even governments. In a world on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution that blurs the line between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, the retail sector is in a unique position: this industry is at the juncture where the individual meets the professionals, organizations and systems that service them, and so it can bring about a convergence of economic, environmental and social outcomes. Such a realignment could be leveraged to facilitate a shift towards a balanced society. The conference by Dr. Shroff will provide a pragmatic visionary perspective on these critical challenges and possibilities.


Harnessing the power of retailing is critical to balancing the global economy and society in the 21st Century. Retail, both as a physical and digital channel, acts as a key bridge linking individuals with other social and commercial actors. Understanding the diverse and often conflicting roles of consumers, citizens, producers and patients enables the lasting success of businesses while opening possibilities for more impactful actions, innovations, technologies and practices targeting sustainable development and affordable health care. Both panels will assemble a combination of lead mainstream data scientists and digital technology business leaders with others in the retail sector, agri-food business or key players in the Canadian economy. These will include, amongst others, leaders in the consumer goods, fashion, banking, insurance, pharmaceutical and healthcare spaces. Panelists will explore the ways in which big data practices and AI science, with a combination of disciplinary science and sectoral investment, can help achieve economic growth for retail businesses while accelerating a shift towards a more balanced economy and society both in Canada and around the world. The agri-food sector, the focus of the second panel, is uniquely situated at the nexus of the agriculture, retailing and health industries. Its position makes it not only central to economic performance but links to environmental and health systems affect opportunities for sustainable development. In the wake of the Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods Market, it is not only food retail which is likely to be transformed by big data and AI enterprise: our personal, social and cultural relationship to food will shift as well as the structure and dynamics of broader systems encompassing industry, health and the environment. With Canada now recognizing both agri-food and the AI sectors as key to its global competitiveness and economic performance and thus as potential targets for governmental investment in supercluster development, this panel takes a particular strategic significance. Panelists will discuss how big data and AI can be leveraged to achieve growth for the agri-food industry and accelerate its role in driving ecosystem transformation in Canada and the rest of the world.

Dr. Shroff Biography

Dr. Shroff heads TCS’ Innovation Lab in Delhi, India which conducts applied research in software architecture, natural language processing, multimedia, and graphics. Additionally, he is responsible for TCS’ Co-Innovation Network, which works with emerging technology companies to create and take to market solutions that have disruptive innovation potential. As a member of TCS’ Corporate Technology Board, he is also involved in the process of strategizing the direction of existing R&D efforts, spawning new R&D efforts, sponsoring external research, and proliferating the resulting technology and intellectual property across TCS businesses. Prior to joining TCS in 1998, Dr. Shroff had been on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA, after which he joined the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India. Dr. Shroff graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, in 1985 and received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA, in 1990.