Opportunities and Pitfalls of Applying AI to Supporting Departments

This article appeared in the Jul/Aug 2023 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not new to the manufacturing industry. For more than a decade, the technology has been used to track and predict failures of parts and other key trends. Now AI and machine learning are available to many departments of manufacturing, not just production lines. A 2022 McKinsey survey showed that AI adoption had more than doubled in the previous 5 years. But a more recent 2023 McKinsey survey found that 90 percent of companies haven’t scaled their AI efforts.

Here are some solutions to consider, as well as pitfalls to avoid.

Human Resources

Opportunity: Resume Robots is slang for an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which acts like a virtual assistant, allowing the HR team to gather and scan resumes and keywords, offer automated online chat assistance to applicants, write job descriptions and schedule interviews. This software can utilize machine learning and predictive analysis to help determine which candidates are best suited for and have the most potential to succeed in the role.

Pitfall: Job seekers can use AI to add key words to resumes & cover letters, manipulating systems to appear as the best potential candidate. Since ATS software puts a premium on responsiveness, job seeker software can auto-respond within minutes, making them look more responsive.

Create a painting of the likeness of Jared Goff in the style of Van Gogh

Create a 3D render of a green balloon flower in the middle of a meadow of real grass

Marketing & Advertising

Opportunity: Text models such as ChatGPT are based on Generative AI, which quite reliably generates paragraphs and even full reports by feeding it with just a few words. Marketing departments can also utilize Image models like DALL-E to generate graphics, which could easily be used for advertising.

See some examples at right.

Pitfall: There is fear that these tools may eliminate need for a full marketing staff. And, use of graphics without as much oversight could lead to infringing on another organization’s intellectual property.

Data Mining

Opportunity: Skip the struggle to write SQL statements and Excel formulas. AI Bot allows you to ask questions such as “find customers who have spent more than $10,000 in the last 90 days” or “find customers in Kentucky which placed their first orders in 2021 or 2022” and automatically build a SQL statement.

And, Excel users will rejoice to hear that Excel already has AI built in through features like Flash Fill.

Another favorite is Forecast Sheet. Forecast by itself is nice for predicting future sales or trends. But Forecast Sheet allows you to specify a forecast start and end date, confidence range, seasonality, timeline and value range.

Pitfall: Keep in mind that the forecast is only as good as the data it is based on. If the data is unreliable, it’s the typical result of garbage in, garbage out.

Consider the areas in which applying AI could address challenges you’re experiencing and make sure that you’re fully considering the potential pitfalls.

About the Author

Andy TabiszAndy Tabisz is owner of WorkSmart Database Masters. He may be reached at 616-258-1408 or