When I was a kid, I used to watch cartoons as I got dressed for school. My favorite was The Jetsons: the flying cars, the robot maid, food served hot at the touch of a button. The only thing I could never figure out was why – despite all the seemingly futuristic advances – George still went to work every day and pushed a bunch of buttons? It stayed with me, even as I got older, and when I'd find an old episode of The Jetsons on cable, it would really vex me. If a robot could do the household chores and give advice to Judy and little Elroy – couldn't a robot make Spacely Sprockets?
Unfortunately, their project was over budget and past the delivery date, so it was scrapped. Another sad example of what happens when you don't make up-front investments to understand your data requirements and how to achieve them. In this case, the lack of labeled data meant we couldn't teach our AI algorithms how to classify the items. For a Fortune 500 retailer, such a missed opportunity could result in tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars of opportunity cost.