How IBM uses AI to help Harley-Davidson find future riders

Harley-Davidson is using artificial intelligence to find customers as it has struggled with a sales slump.

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IBM has worked with the motorcycle maker on the AI project, according to Robert Thomas, IBM’s data and artificial intelligence general manager. He discussed it this week during an interview with FOX Business’ Lauren Simonetti on “Mornings with Maria” about the business applications of AI.

“The work we’ve done with Harley-Davidson —  they’re now making better predictions about future motorcycle owners,” Thomas said. “They could not do that manually — too much data, too much work that would have to occur.”

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Built on IBM Cloud, this platform is the foundation on which Harley-Davidson will provide its riders with new services. (Credit: Harley-Davidson via IBM)

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Harley-Davidson declined to comment for this story.

The effort may be working. In July, Harley-Davidson boasted that it saw a record number of riders in 2018 — more than 3 million — and that it saw more young riders buying its motorcycles. New U.S. retail sales among customers aged 18-34 increased by 2.7 percent.

“The decisions and investments we’re making, within a highly dynamic and competitive global marketplace, demonstrate our intense focus to build the next generation of riders and maximize shareholder value,” Matt Levatich, Harley’s president and CEO, said at the time.

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Model Year 2020 LiveWire. (Credit: Harley-Davidson)

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Last year, IBM said it was also working with Harley-Davidson on the new LiveWire, Harley’s first electric motorcycle. The tech company said it was applying its AI "enhance and evolve the rider's experience of the vehicle." Riders will be able to check on their motorcycles through an app, seeing details like range and charge level, and they’ll be able to track their bikes if they’re ever stolen.

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