Having a conversation with ChatGPT is cool, but does it effectively change anything? Is it worthy of the fear it is generating in some quarters? Is it going to affect your business?
Yes, yes, and yes.
Even if indirectly, AI changes everything, and it can’t be ignored. Yet we still struggle to answer the question of what it actually does. In fact, it can be argued that effectively answering this question will be the great challenge of our current decade…and likely beyond.
Even as you read these words, books are being written on the subject. Companies are putting think tanks around it. Employees are offering applications. But here’s our take on seven ways we think AI will affect commerce.
- The capacity of AI to understand human speech will transform interactions between employees and software, enabling swift movement from human ideas to operational functionality. AI will enable your employees to “tell” your automated systems, for example, either orally or by typed communication, how to adapt workflow to altered circumstances. The AI component serves to convert “human language” to “program code,” accomplishing the desired alteration by automatically modifying the system with no need for further direction or input from any employee.
- By monitoring the performance of software and workflow data in detail over time, and in reliance upon pre-established goals or target parameters, AI will not always need to rely upon an employee to tell it how to modify automated software programs. AI will learn the way the software is interacting with your company’s inputs, explore multiple options for improving the system, identify maximized solutions, and automatically modify the program to reflect the optimized changes. AI will, in effect, become your internal software systems manager.
- AI has the potential to extrapolate from past performance and previous trends to project present circumstances into near-term and long-term expectations. And will do this by accounting for an almost unimaginably vast amount of data to reach conclusions. Companies that effectively utilize such a new tool will always have a leg up on static competitors.
- Change is unsettling, but we exist in an age of change. The need to adapt to new circumstances, new market realities, new competitors, and unforeseen developments requires companies to innovate. AI has the capacity to suggest not one but many alternative innovations that a company might adopt to confront an altered landscape. Indeed, AI might be thought of as antidote to a modern company’s greatest threat: inertia.
- The scientific revolution might be summarized as the recognition of patterns in masses of data. The AI revolution will raise to a new level the capacity for recognition, seeing not just patterns in data but patterns in thought, preference, fashion, desire, behavior, and responsiveness. As a tool for the identification of market trends, AI will surpass everything that has come before. And when it spots a useful pattern, it will describe in plain language what it has found.
- The computer age has eliminated many mundane tasks. RPA’s a great example. The AI revolution will expand the working definition of “mundane.” Until now, we’ve automated tasks rote on their surface. AI will dig deeper, with the capacity to automate tasks whose “rote” element lurks under the surface. Some examples: writing a business letter; drafting a legal document; formulating a variable-based budget. AI can generate the sort of basic building blocks of business that once occupied the time of scores of employees.
- AI has been shown to be an exceptionally useful tool for teaching and training. It provides standardized information to an employee while tailoring the presentation to a given learning style, adjusting in real time to best reach and educate the employee. It can provide instant feedback, both to the trainee and management personnel.
To summarize: AI has the potential to yield, if not actual genius, then a version of genius…as a comprehensive and versatile tool-of-all-trades. It offers the prospect of transcendent perspective.
In business, common is the employee who succeeds through hard work. Common is the employee who thrives through intelligence. But rare and special is the employee whose hard work morphs into brilliance and true innovation.
AI is akin to that rare employee. It may not have the spark of true genius as it whizzes through the cyberworld of ones and zeroes, but by analyzing an avalanche of digital resources, indeed an almost infinite quantity of resources, AI is destined to at times stumble into disruptive, groundbreaking innovation.