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A general look at generative AI for businesses

May 7, 2024

If you follow the news, you’ve probably heard a lot about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it’s slowly and steadily expanding into various aspects of our lives. One widely cited example is ChatGPT, an AI “chatbot” that can engage in conversations with users and create coherently written articles, as well as other content, when prompted.

ChatGPT and other similar chatbots are what’s known as “generative” AI. The operative word there refers to software that’s able to generate new content based on input from users and existing data either inputted during development or gathered from the internet.

Along with college students and the curious, more and more businesses are joining the ranks of generative AI users. Research and advisory firm Gartner surveyed more than 1,400 company leaders in September 2023. Two in five (40%) said their organizations were piloting generative AI programs — a substantial increase from the 15% results of the same survey conducted by Gartner about six months earlier.

Imagine the possibilities

Naturally, how companies are using generative AI depends on factors such as industry, mission, operational needs and strategic objectives. But it can be informative to look at a few examples.

In consumer goods and retail, for instance, businesses are using generative AI to create new product designs, optimize materials and align aesthetics with the latest trends. In the energy sector, it’s being used to improve supply chain logistics and better forecast demand. In health care, generative AI is helping accelerate scientific research and enhance medical imaging.

More generally, this technology could help many types of businesses:

  • Generate marketing and advertising content,
  • Analyze financial data and produce reports that assess risk or draw trendlines, and
  • Develop chatbots or other means to automate customer service.

There’s no harm in letting your imagination run wild. Think about what types of content and knowledge AI could create for your company that, in years previous, would’ve probably only been possible to develop by hiring new employees or engaging consultants.

Be methodical

Of course, pondering the possibilities of generative AI should never translate to blindly throwing money at it. To start exploring the possibilities, sit down with your leadership group and discuss the topic.

If you’re wholly new to it, be sure everyone does some preliminary research. You might even ask an IT staffer or someone else knowledgeable about AI to do a presentation. As part of your research and discussion, make sure to learn about the potential legal and public relations liabilities.

Should everyone agree that pursuing generative AI is a good strategic decision, form a project team to identify “use cases” — that is, specific ways your business could use it to deliver practical, competitive functionalities. Prioritize the use cases you come up with and choose a winner to go after first.

You may be able to buy an AI product to fulfill this need. In such a case, you’d have to shop carefully, thoroughly train the appropriate staff members and cautiously roll out the solution. Doing so would be relatively simpler than developing your own AI app, but you’d need to manage the purchase and implementation with return on investment firmly in mind.

The other option is to indeed create your own proprietary generative AI app. This would likely be a much more costly and labor-intensive option, but you’d be able to customize the solution to your ultra-specific needs.

Prepare for the future

What can generative AI do for your business? Maybe a little, maybe a lot. One thing’s for sure, its influence on how business is done will only get stronger in the years ahead. We can help you assess the costs vs. benefits of this or any other technology.

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