Big-picture implications: Transforming business with artificial intelligence
Certain events transform how business is done.
While the pandemic accelerated digital transformation out of necessity, artificial intelligence (AI) is making headlines for rapid advancements in how it is transforming business on many levels.
While we have unknowingly used AI in the background of many functions in our lives, now it has come to the forefront of business.
Generative AI platforms like OpenAI’s ChatGPT — which has gained significant awareness in recent months and become as demonymic as Xerox and Kleenex to its products — can streamline the functions of knowledge workers at all levels.
Automation and labor-saving devices have risen in popularity as investments that streamline operations; the Q4 Vistage CEO Confidence Index survey revealed that 75% of CEOs are investing in automation, while an additional 12% plan to in the future.
There are many reasons to adopt AI to give business leaders a competitive advantage; the early adopters will progress faster than those that maintain a wait-and-see attitude. AI can innovate how companies do business by using big data to streamline operations, ordering and inventory. AI can innovate how they connect with customers from marketing content to customer service. And AI can create efficiencies in how work is done, and having this technology accessible to employees can help attract and retain top talent.
AI in your business
Before delving into ChatGPT, the latest AI innovation to take the business world by storm, let’s define how AI applications are transforming business — by improving operations, accelerating decision-making, and enhancing customer experience. Here are some of the most common types of AI used by small businesses as defined by ChatGPT. (Yes, we asked it.)
AI-powered predictive analytics tools can analyze large volumes of data and identify patterns and trends that people may miss. This can help businesses make more informed decisions about product development, pricing, marketing and other areas.
Customer care assistance
AI-powered chatbots can handle routine customer inquiries, freeing up people to focus on more complex issues. This can improve customer service and reduce response times.
AI algorithms can analyze customer data and behavior to create personalized product recommendations, marketing messages and offers. This can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
AI can automate repetitive tasks, such as data entry or invoice processing, freeing up employees to focus on more strategic tasks. This can improve efficiency and reduce costs.
AI-powered fraud detection tools can analyze transaction data to identify suspicious activity and prevent fraud. This can save businesses money and protect their reputation.
Supply chain management
AI can analyze data from sensors and other sources to optimize inventory levels, shipping routes and delivery times. This can improve efficiency and reduce costs in the supply chain.
Different AI technologies offer different advantages
Several types of AI are generating a lot of interest from small and midsize businesses because they offer significant potential benefits across the organization. To frame up the score of capabilities and help leaders think of this holistically, below are top AI technologies that are leveraged in business:
- Machine Learning: Businesses are using machine learning algorithms to analyze large amounts of data and make predictions or identify patterns. This can help businesses improve decision-making, automate tasks and develop more accurate models for predicting future outcomes.
- Robotics and Automation: Robotics and automation technologies are being used to automate repetitive or dangerous tasks. Largely used in manufacturing industries, those companies can leverage automation to improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve safety.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP is being used to analyze and interpret unstructured data, such as text or speech. Business applications of NLP include improving customer service, conducting sentiment analysis, and automating customer interactions.
- Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Chatbots and virtual assistants can automate customer interactions and improve service in terms of time and volume. These technologies can handle routine inquiries, freeing up employees to focus on more complex situations that require more time and creativity to solve.
- Computer Vision: Computer vision technologies are being used to analyze and interpret visual data, such as images or video. This can be used for tasks such as object recognition, facial recognition and quality control in manufacturing. One Vistage member that was an early adopter used this technology for certifications of lash technicians.
Small and midsize businesses should not wait to take advantage of these new technologies to streamline efficiency, drive productivity, inform decision-making and improve their customers’ experience. As AI technology is rapidly evolving and increasingly accessible, SMBs that test these capabilities as early adopters and discover innovative use cases will gain a competitive advantage.
How businesses can leverage AI
To understand how leaders of small and midsize businesses feel about new forms of AI that continue to make headlines, the Q1 Vistage CEO Confidence Index survey asked CEOs their thoughts on what opportunity this presented. Our analysis revealed that 43% of CEOs believe Open and Generative AI such as ChatGPT presents an opportunity to their business while over one-third (34%) believe it is not relevant at this time.
With this newest technology, SMBs need to get ahead of the curve and understand how this capability impacts strategy, how it can drive innovation, supplement their talent, help connect with customers or even streamline operations.
Because this is evolving so quickly, in March we invited 3 Vistage speakers — Dave Nelsen, Thomas Young and Heather Lutze — to share their perspectives on why AI is important for CEOs and how you can begin utilizing it in your business processes today. Watch the full presentation here.
Quoting Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Nelsen believes, “This tech will be transformative thanks to its utility.”
“The only limits of ChatGPT are the limits of your own imagination,” he says. “You’re going to find so many uses.”
What is Generative AI and what does ChatGPT do?
AI has been around for around 50 years, but we are now in the midst of a great leap forward with ChatGPT. The GPT stands for generative, pre-trained, transformer. It is pre-trained on 175 billion internet words and parameters, though its training does not go past the end of 2021. It is free to use at chat.openai.com, although a premium membership is available for $20 a month. You can ask it anything and use it for a variety of business cases such as predictive maintenance, sales forecasting, customer service, predictive quality control and supply chain optimization.
What are the benefits of AI and ChatGPT?
Nelsen, Young, and Lutze all agree that Generative AI has advantages that CEOs can benefit from almost immediately:
1. Leverage ChatGPT as a cost-saving resource.
ChatGPT could become the significant cost-savings tool of 2023, says Nelsen, performing functions that are specific to different roles and tasks. Specifically, it can help businesses with predictive maintenance, customer service, supply chain optimization, and predictive quality control, saving resources in those areas.
However, in our exclusive conversation with New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink in February, his perspective was that human skills are needed to maximize the output, such as asking good questions, fact-checking and humanizing language.
“I think that we’re in this world where good questions are more valuable than right answers, big time,” says Pink. “Right answers are abundant, good questions are scarce, therefore they’re more valuable. So the ability to generate prompts and ask good questions, [is] powerful.”
Pink also believes that people are essential to provide a layer of what he calls “taste,” which he calls a uniquely human trait. “Taste is developed by having experience, by absorbing things across different disciplines, by reading widely, by talking to people widely, by having a diverse group of people.”
Vistage member Patrick Patterson, President of Level Agency in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also raised concerns. “In the past few weeks, I have heard a lot of conversation about using this to replace people,” Patterson says. He thinks this capability is not a replacement for headcount but rather an opportunity to streamline work by upskilling existing personnel on how to best use, deploy and customize the technology.
2. Use ChatGPT to build first drafts for content.
“ChatGPT is causing the biggest marketing revolution since the advent of the mobile,” says Young. “The customer sees you as a trusted guide and AI chat tools are fantastic for that.”
But all three experts cautioned businesses about using AI content word-for-word. It can make you vulnerable to appearing like spam, sets you up for plagiarism, and can appear boring or sound like AI. Instead, use chatbots like AI Chat as a first draft that you can edit and customize to help save you time. “AI Chat is a supercharged machine, but it still needs a driver to ensure it is used as a tool and not in place of a human,” Young adds.
And, of course, the quality and accuracy of the results are something that needs to be monitored.
Bestselling author and upcoming Vistage featured speaker Adam Grant discussed the risk of incorrect training in his March 21 podcast titled “ChatGPT did NOT title this podcast.” AI chat tools can extract information from incorrect sources, resulting in error-laden content. However, this is evolving at a very rapid pace.
His guest, Ethan Mollick — a management professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — mirrored the sentiment Pink offered about needing to ask good questions. “We are putting ascendants in, and it’s predicting what answer would make us happy and that wouldn’t be offensive. So you could actually get much better writing out of ChatGPT if you spend some time learning how to prompt it in a way that produces writing. So that includes adding more constraints to things, saying ‘end it on an urgent note, include more examples, make the sentences more vivid.’”
3. Build a content creation machine with AI.
There are many tools out there that can help small and midsize businesses create meaningful content. Tools such as SEMrush, Keywords Everywhere, Jasper and Lumen can help creators find keywords for SEO optimization that you can use to create blogs and marketing videos. Ultimately, these tools can help create “a cheat sheet” for developing content that ranks high on engine searches like Google or Bing,
“We want to make sure we are aligning our content with the very best chance to get ranked on page one,” Lutze says.
4 tips for using AI and ChatGPT
Below are some tips to think about as you begin exploring this new technology:
- Not only is AI great for content creation, but for creating calculations as well, such as an ROI calculator. Utilizing it as a sales funnel tool can help meet customer needs, allowing you to see higher conversion rates and higher sales growth. Sales and marketing teams must come together to drive conversion rate optimization through all processes. And AI Chat now is a great tool to make that happen.
- Think about how you leverage reflective capabilities in which the technology learns from itself and keeps improving.
- Fact-checking is critical: Remember to take ChatGPT with a grain of salt; it can be wrong. The training and prompts of ChatGPT are rapidly improving, but it needs human fact-checking and editing.
- Ensure quality input and continually refined questioning: The adage “garbage in, garbage out” can also apply to leveraging this tool. Patterson shared that Chat GPT is NOT a search engine replacement, so if you expect it to act like one and ask it to create content it is not trained to do, then you will be disappointed. However, if you provide related content and have a specific ask – create a professional biography using best practices – and provide it with all the relevant data, your return will be significantly better.
Risks of using AI and ChatGPT
Just as AI can improve a variety of functions across your organization, it has the potential to scale and grow the capabilities of hackers at exponential speeds as well. Balancing risk and opportunity is critical. Cyber mitigation remains a top priority.
Creating policies and standards for use is important as well. Headlines have shared that company data is being shared with the resource and companies may not be aware of what data is being fed into a source like this.
Now is the time to experiment
But it is not time to put this on hold to find out more information. As Pink shared with the Vistage community, he believes CEOs need to act like scientists and act first, and then adjust. If you wait until you find out all the information you might miss out on the opportunity.
Patterson agrees, saying that he has heard of some CEOs shutting down use until “we get our hands around it.” For those companies, they may be left in the dust of those that were early adopters, figured out the advantages and risks and experimented with how it can give them a competitive advantage.
Mike Foster, a Vistage speaker and founder of the Foster Institute, a Bozeman, Montana-based cybersecurity agency, shares his belief that “AI is growing exponentially while our ability to harness its power lags far behind. Executives must embrace the technology before their competitors do.”
Category: Business Growth & Strategy
Tags: artificial intelligence, emerging technologies, Technology, transformational change