Artificial intelligence (AI) has been silently shaping our digital experiences for some time, providing product recommendations on Amazon, or powering Meta’s sophisticated ad targeting for example. The new generative AI, capable of creating multimodal content, presents us with the opportunity to work faster and more accurately. Though it’s not a streamlined workflow yet, we’re merely at the transition phase before AI is seamlessly integrated into our everyday tools.
Today’s applications: From generative AI to smart assistants
While ChatGPT has been gaining headlines for copy generation, generative AI is revolutionising a range of disciplines that impact marketers and the supporting industries. In the design realm, AI image generation is creating stunning images, with Midjourney leading the pack. Adobe is already integrating AI into its creative suite, drastically reducing the time taken to generate assets.
In data analysis, AI is breaking down the barriers to entry. The previously specialist skill set required for data crunching is being taken over by AI. It cleans, processes and offers insights into data with ease. In coding, AI’s near-human capabilities are poised to revolutionise how platforms and applications are developed.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has partnered with OpenAI, with a $10bn investment, allowing the integration of ChatGPT into Microsoft Office products. Its AI assistant, Microsoft Copilot 365, is set to launch, bringing AI directly into Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams. For an extra $30 per user per month, it promises to drive significant productivity gains.
Preparing your business for AI
If your business is not already looking at AI, then it is time to change that. We are on the cusp of a technological change unlike anything that has come before, and this will inevitably leave unprepared businesses unable to compete with their more forward-thinking rivals.
1. Take ownership
The final impact that AI will have on your business is unclear, but it will undoubtedly have an effect. Now is the time for leaders to examine how AI will change their business and develop short-, medium and long-term strategies on how AI can be leveraged for success. At WAA Chosen, we have been holding workshops with clients and training teams to investigate the implications for their business and a plan of action.
2. Risk assessments
Regulatory mechanisms are trailing behind AI advancements and imminent court cases will establish legal precedents for generative AI, establishing industry-wide regulations. Image generation AI like Midjourney, which learns from copyrighted content, will likely face legal disputes. AI like ChatGPT, trained on the entire web, presents similar challenges.
Inappropriate data processing with AI could violate GDPR, potentially leaking valuable intellectual property (IP) via an AI others can access. AI can also convincingly generate false information, known as hallucinations, emphasising the importance of fact-checking.
To avoid IP theft allegations, businesses must diligently safeguard themselves from potential AI pitfalls. Although Microsoft may offer some data governance solutions, unique use cases demand individual considerations.
3. Ensure your business data is well organised
If AIs are operating within our businesses more autonomously, maximum value will only be created if the AI can find what it needs. If you want an AI to create a presentation from a written proposal, it needs to know where the proposal is. Leveraging cloud solutions like Sharepoint, using sensible naming conventions and doing an audit of your files will all help maximise the value of AI integration.
4. Ensure your customer data is well organised
Businesses with established CRMs and data-driven decision-making are poised to embrace AI, potentially integrating it into their CRMs for advanced personalisation and automation in the coming years.
Those with disorganised customer data face a greater challenge and must now prioritise consolidating this scattered information. It’s time to complete that big data job that’s been in the ‘too hard’ pile.
5. Experiment with AI
Unsupervised roll-out of ChatGPT across an office is likely to generate as many problems as it solves. Find AI advocates within the business who can trial AI tools and provide objective feedback on their potential business impact. Set up productivity and qualitative experiments across a range of use cases, evaluate the risks and implement AI with caution.
6. Consider future job roles
One of the outputs of our client workshops has been a recommended and controlled programme of experimentation. Boosting productivity is a fundamental objective for all businesses, and AI is likely to drive greater productivity leaps than any preceding technology. We don’t possess unlimited sales pipelines; therefore, the reality for most businesses is that more will be achieved with less. Some jobs may be entirely replaced by AI (data entry, telesales, customer service and more), and many will evolve significantly. Review how AI might affect your business and plan accordingly.
7. Consider the impact on staff
Undeniably, AI will have a considerable impact on jobs, and employees will have concerns. While some roles will be more heavily impacted than others, for most office employees, AI will act as an extraordinarily skilled assistant, alleviating the tedium of repetitive tasks.
Nevertheless, it constitutes significant change and humans, by nature, tend to resist it. Introducing technology that could be divisive and potentially threatening is unlikely to proceed smoothly without specific attention given to change management.
Combining humans and technology
As we stand on the cusp of an era defined by the AI revolution, the focus for businesses must shift from contemplating ‘if’ they should integrate AI into their operations, to strategising ‘how’ to do it most effectively. The advent of AI isn’t a wave to ride out; instead, it’s a current that, if navigated wisely, could steer businesses towards unprecedented efficiency, productivity and success.
As businesses look to the future, they must also consider the impact of AI on job roles and how they can proactively manage this transition. Some roles may undergo significant changes or even become obsolete, while new ones may emerge. Honest, transparent conversations and reskilling initiatives will be crucial in managing these changes and ensuring the wellbeing of your staff.
Ensure your business infrastructure is ready for AI integration but remember that this transition is as much about humans as it is about technology.
The AI revolution isn’t a replacement for human talent and ingenuity but a powerful tool to augment them. AI has the potential to take on the mundane and repetitive tasks, leaving room for more creative, strategic and impactful human endeavours.
Johan Perkins is the technology director at WAA Chosen. A full-service communications and technology agency, WAA Chosen provides business creativity across the automotive, trade and construction, and lifestyle sectors.