Generative AI: Is it tech hype or the future of business?

By Alec Boere, Associate Partner for AI and Automation, Europe, Infosys Consulting
Just as the first wave of Google search transformed how we used the internet, generative AI will revolutionise how businesses operate
With all the excitement surrounding generative AI, it can be hard to tell the hype from the true business opportunities

Almost overnight, the term ‘generative AI’ changed from specialist knowledge into everyday vocabulary. We have ChatGPT to thank for this – and the rush of competitors that followed, like Google Bard and Bloom, only further indicated that large language models are fast becoming the new way to access information. But, with all the excitement surrounding it, it can be hard to tell the hype from the true business opportunities.

It's clear that this excitement is not baseless - the potential benefits are massive. Just as the first wave of Google search transformed how we used the internet, generative AI will revolutionise how businesses operate - affecting everything from product development, customer experience, talent and knowledge to values and ethics.  But right now, we’re only at the tip of the iceberg. So, businesses are going to need an expert helping hand to navigate their way through the hype.

Unlocking knowledge on a never-before-seen scale

First things first - no matter what clickbait headlines might claim, generative AI won’t replace the human workforce. If anything, it will help to enhance it, creating higher value work and helping to bridge gaps in knowledge. In fact, with numerous industries facing crippling shortages of skilled workers, as this technology develops, it will streamline work and ensure organisational knowledge is easily stored and accessible. 

Today’s constant flow of employees makes it more difficult than ever to develop subject matter and organisational experts. By utilising this technology, organisations can start to plug those gaps so that accumulated knowledge is held onto, even if talent leaves. Businesses can use such AI to search for answers in a similar way that they would look for something on Google. Companies can then point their employees to their company knowledge base so that staff can access and extract relevant information when needed. Whether that’s information on setting appropriate KPIs, instant customer support, streamlining operations or even supporting decision making in pushing out a particular product or service, GPT technologies will help protect and restore vital company and industry knowledge.

Empowering better CX from every angle

Already, ChatGPT and other similar technologies are shortening timescales for businesses to launch products and services into organisations and helping them to extract the most value from these. 

But it will prove particularly game changing in service-oriented, contact-focused industries – for example, banks, retailers, and healthcare firms. We’re already familiar with chatbots, but they are nowhere near the realistic mimicking of human conversation that these new models offer in the delivery of instant and accurate customer support. Of course, anything that boosts efficiency and effectiveness of customer service pays dividends for businesses, so it is already drawing much interest. 

For example, using ChatGPT, organisations can mimic advanced human-to-human conversation, enabling them to provide a ‘next best action’ for consumers with a fluidity not experienced before. This next best action can be determined and personalised through synthetic customer testing. Companies can trial and test conversations with a vast range of consumer profiles and construct various plausible solutions. 

Achieving this at scale requires large language models which can be tested efficiently and effectively in a virtual space, identifying customers based on all the interactions you have had, to achieve hyper-personalisation. This is the next level of customer experience, where AI can respond appropriately to a plethora of real-world reactions.

This is especially relevant when it comes to ensuring that AI supports a diverse world, with an approach that helps maintain trust and transparency. Any organisation engaging in AI should have clear policies to ensure its implementation is ethical. For example, businesses must have diverse teams to avoid transferring human bias into the technical design of AI - as the AI is driven by human input. Companies should also refrain from using outdated data because these algorithms will only amplify past patterns and not design new ones for the future. For example, this was highlighted by the OpenAI Dall.E2 model, which, when asked to paint pictures of startup CEOs, all were male. 

Be ready to (ethically) experiment

The adoption of ChatGPT has been rapid, unlike anything we have ever seen. This pace of change is a technologist’s dream, but to get it right and make the most of generative AI’s benefits, businesses need to be prepared for the spectrum of perceived and potential risks. If this stage is overlooked, they could fall at the first hurdle.

As with all new technologies, responsibility must be at the forefront when implementing AI models. Trust is the key to making it work for both staff and customers.  AI models must run without bias to treat consumers and employees fairly, and safeguarding customers’ personal information and complying with all legal and regulatory environments must be prioritised. Once this is achieved, then it’s time to discuss business accountability and explain-ability for the model's decisions, followed by inclusivity and social impact.

Generative AI like ChatGPT isn’t just a fun tool you can use on the internet – it has significant real-world potential for businesses and public sector organisations. It is a purpose-made tool for opening accessibility to information, driving efficiency on a personal and potentially enterprise level. As it develops, we will see it used as our ‘personal AI’, understanding what we want and what options are available across numerous areas, from offering personalised financial advice to helping address workplace challenges. 

It’s clear that this is a huge opportunity for businesses – making the path to launch products and services far quicker, and helping organisations to extract the most value from these launches when they happen. This is just the beginning when it comes to the possibilities of generative AI, and those companies that approach it with open-minded curiosity and an appetite for ethical experimentation will undoubtedly reap the greatest benefits.

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