Levi Strauss & Co. has named Katia Walsh as SVP and Chief Strategy and Artificial Intelligence Officer, effective April 29. In this role, she will be responsible for building data, analytics and AI enablers for Levi’s innovation incubation, new business models and strategic growth initiatives.
Walsh was previously Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Vodafone, where she oversaw the telecommunications conglomerate’s digital transformation. She also has held strategic data analytics leadership positions at Prudential Financial and Fidelity Investments, where she drove customer-centric innovations.
AI is positioned to disrupt the fashion industry in a major way: AI-powered “classifiers” were more reliable at analyzing garments than apparel professionals, according to a study by EDITED. On average, the classifiers made 2.5 percentage points fewer errors when identifying garment types and 9.3 percentage points fewer errors when determining subcategories compared to humans.
While AI-powered solutions wouldn’t eliminate human input, they could give designers and merchandise buyers more time and energy for developing product-driven strategies and eliminating data-related guesswork. These efficiencies could then proliferate down the supply chain, streamlining everything from design to purchasing.
Levi has an extra reason to pursue technology with such great potential: the retailer has filed for an IPO. Additionally, the company increased year-over-year net revenue 14% for the fiscal year ended Nov. 25, 2018, and the advantages of AI could help the retailer keep up the momentum.