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AI Summit for the furniture industry

An extensive, well-organised data pool is fundamental for AI – even in the furniture industry

Patrick Sönke, Managing Director of Integrated Worlds (Holzgerlingen), and Dr. Olaf Plümer, Managing Director of the Daten Competence Center (Herford), were among the expert speakers at the first Interior AI Summit for the furniture industry held on 21st February in Bielefeld. In their joint presentation, they made it clear to the approximately 100 participants that AI only "works" with a good, representative, and above all structured – meaning standardised – database.

Exciting presentations on the top theme "Artificial Intelligence" were offered to the approximately 100 participants at the Interior AI Summit 2024 in Bielefeld. Photo: The Wild Goose

In contrast to the predominantly hyped "revolution" surrounding artificial intelligence, such as with the Chat-GPT application, AI evolves in a dynamic, evolutionary process of innovation, which requires an extensive, constantly growing database as well as a highly networked data infrastructure. Only then will the foreseeable immense benefits of AI for society and the economy be optimally realised.

Two things are certain: AI is changing the world, and thus, the furniture industry as well. And: Data is the gold of (at least) the 21st century. However, AI quickly reaches its limits when data is unstructured or not standardised – meaning it cannot be read, interpreted, or processed by AI systems – or when the volume of data for (artificial) semantics is insufficient.

Plümer and Sönke emphasised time and again that only well-structured data serves as fuel for the AI engine. And that with a growing database, AI can act faster and more accurately. Their advice to the gathered business representatives, therefore, was: 'First, look at the data treasure you are sitting on. Mine it – and organise uniform structures.' Because many products in the furniture industry have a wide range of variants, and the processes in the value chain up to the customer are often complex. To be successful with AI and to quickly utilise all relevant data, substantive and structural standardisation is indispensable.

Investing in data-based work and suitable infrastructure is therefore essential – especially in the SME-dominated furniture industry with numerous players. The foundations are laid: DCC standards such as the Integrated Data Model (IDM) and the commitment to classifying furniture information in ECLASS or the IWOfurn platform and electronic data interchange (EDI) as connectors for digital communication are examples of this.

In essence, data digitisation is not an explicit AI issue; almost all industry players are already digitising data. Consequently, the entrepreneurial effort in the next steps is relatively low. Various AI tools help to link data from different programmes sensibly after structuring it and to derive maximum benefit.

More information:
Verbände der Holz- und Möbelindustrie Nordrhein-Westfalen

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