Walmart uses GenAI for payroll, employee digital experience

The retail powerhouse is providing its associates with generative AI tools to use to automate parts of their job. The company is also using the technology to spot payroll problems.

The biggest global retailer sees itself as a tech giant.

And with 25,000 engineers and its own software ecosystem, Walmart isn't waiting to see how generative AI technology will play out.

The company is already providing its employees -- referred to by the retailer as associates -- with in-house GenAI tools such as the My Assistant conversational chatbot. Associates can use the consumer-grade ChatGPT-like tool to frame a press release, to write out guiding principles for a project or for whatever they want to accomplish.

"What we're finding is, as we teach our business partners what is possible, they come up with an endless set of use cases," said David Glick, senior vice president of enterprise business services at Walmart, on the Targeting AI podcast from TechTarget Editorial.

A point of emphasis for Walmart and GenAI is associate healthcare insurance claims. Walmart built a summarization agent that has reduced the time it takes to process complicated claims from a day or two to an hour or two, Glick said.

Another important area in which Glick is implementing GenAI technology is in payroll.

"What I consider our most sacrosanct duty is to pay our associates accurately and timely," he said.

Over the years, humans have monitored payroll. Now GenAI is helping them.

"We want to scale up AI for anomaly detection so that we're looking at where we see things that might be wrong," Glick said. "And how do we have someone investigate and follow up on that."

Meanwhile, as for the "build or buy" dilemma, Walmart tends to come down on the build side. The company uses a variety of large language models and has built its own machine learning platform, Element, for them to sit atop.

"The nice thing about that is that we can have a team that's completely focused on what is the best set of LLMs to use," Glick said. "We're looking at every piece of the organization and figuring out how can we support it with generative AI."

Shaun Sutner is senior news director for TechTarget Editorial's information management team, driving coverage of artificial intelligence, unified communications, analytics and data management technologies. He is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of news experience. Esther Ajao is a TechTarget Editorial news writer and podcast host covering artificial intelligence software and systems. They co-host the Targeting AI podcast.

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