Skip to content Skip to Programs Navigation

News & Stories

Taking a deep dive into AI

A new lab focusing on the ever-growing, transformative impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on business has launched at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

The Rethinc. AI Management Lab will foster academic research on developments within AI and educate students about the future of business immersed in cutting-edge AI.

It is the brainchild of Saravanan Kesavan, professor of operations and Sarah Graham Kenan Scholar, and housed within Rethinc. Labs in the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Advance Auto Parts is a founding partner of the lab and has made a three-year, $150,000 gift to support it. The partnership with Advance Auto Parts involves research on cutting-edge problems at the intersection of AI and operations management, training and student hackathons.

The Rethinc. AI Management Lab will determine the best ways managers can use AI, give students exposure to AI issues across industries, and develop AI methods to inform operational decision-making, says Kesavan.

“AI is revolutioning businesses,” says Kesavan. “Companies now have this enormous opportunity to use technology to find win-win-win solutions for their customers, employees and their bottomline. They are hungry to collaborate with us.”

Business management techniques increasingly integrate AI to forecast sales, automate customer support and protect customer data. AI is at work when Alexa answers a question or Netflix recommends a movie.

Rapid advances in computational power, the increasing availability of big data and the growing sophistication of algorithms enable firms to use AI to tackle an increasing number of management problems.

“AI can have an enormous impact on businesses because it can remove constraints and create exciting new opportunities. It is used to schedule work at Uber, screen resumes at Unilever, provide personalized career coaching at IBM and enable drug discovery and development activities at Pfizer,” says Kesavan. “One goal of the lab is to understand how AI should be augmented with managers in the workplace to produce superior outcomes for organizations.

“The AI lab will be a great partner for companies in their journey toward more effective and transformative digitalization.”

Launched in 2018, Rethinc. Labs bring together global business leaders and interdisciplinary researchers to examine how businesses can mitigate challenges and leverage opportunities amid the digital transformation.

“The Rethinc. AI Management Lab creates an ecosystem of our faculty, students and industry leaders to work on cutting edge problems around AI integration and scaling,” says Chelsea Donahue, assistant director of Rethinc. Labs.

“Innovation is a core value at UNC Kenan-Flagler, and we are developing capabilities at the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and consulting to serve our students and working professionals,” she says. “The partnership with Advance Auto Parts is an opportunity to develop expertise in managing innovation and the most important aspects of how organizations and individuals can capitalize on technological change.”