ChatGPT has captured the public imagination and dominates the current debate around AI, but can this discussion be used to further its business case?

Last year, my colleague Angela Zutavern posed the question, “What if companies wholeheartedly embraced technology as a co-worker?” In the piece, she suggested that limiting the benefits of AI to one team or function hindered its ability to learn and effectively stifled the benefits it could bring to a business.

Now, nearly a year on, I can see the issue crystalising yet further. And there are schisms developing between the AI evangelists, the neo-Luddites, and other groups who bring a divergence of perspectives to the discussion. All the while, the business challenges AI could help solve mount.

Countless points of view have been written, shared on social channels and explored in the media about the role generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, might play in a range of industries, the jobs it could replace (or not), what could be next and so on. It’s an interesting discussion but the reality is it’s no more than that, a discussion. Nevertheless, it is a helpful step. It has encouraged conversation, and people have begun to ponder: “How does it affect my work? How could it affect my company, my function?”

My question is different: can the discussion around ChatGPT be used to further the case for AI in an organisation? 

Why do I ask this? Like many technologies, AI remains something of a mystery to many senior executives, as well as most people for whom tech is not part of the day job. The prominence of a platform like ChatGPT normalizes something abstract.

That is a big benefit of ChatGPT. People can touch and feel and use something rather than just think abstractly about AI. Investors and potential partners have been thinking about this already, but with Open AI creating this simple interface, a broader group of innovators are starting to define integration use cases that will become products, services and even companies tomorrow.

We’ve seen high-profile investment from Microsoft, who have integrated ChatGPT into their Bing search engine and, hot on the heels of Microsoft’s announcement, Google shared news of the ChatGPT rival Bard. In what seems like a very short time AI is going from science fiction to consumer tech.

As understanding and acceptance begin to grow, people are looking to see how they can use it within their organization. This is where things get interesting.

Amongst myriad disruptions, headwinds and general uncertainty, many organizations are facing two sizeable and related challenges:

  • Technical debt
  • Rapidly accelerating data volume increases

As data volumes continue to grow and most companies are coping with out-of-date technology. This is something of a perfect storm, leading to considerable value being hidden and/or inaccessible.

In our recent AlixPartners Disruption Index (an annual survey of 3,000 senior executives worldwide, four of the top ten disruptions keeping leaders awake at night were technological.

In today’s ”age of disruption,” no one wants to be left behind. Doing so can quickly become an existential problem. But how can businesses close the gap, and where does AI fit?

The challenges of too much data and poor/ poorly integrated/ old technology need to be addressed. The ongoing growth of a company’s technology stack, inadequate product management that leads to low rates of adoption or duplication, and a lack of capacity within the business to absorb new technology all exacerbate the situation.

In essence, the ChatGPT conversation can serve as a catalyst for a wider move towards AI adoption. The technology itself is likely to be absorbed into existing platforms (Microsoft’s investment promises interesting things for Bing for example) but its role in moving adoption forward is important. In addition, a “buy not build” approach promises faster returns, allowing companies to capitalise on emerging trends, test and learn and find the technologies or combination thereof that deliver sizeable commercial or operational value.

We would suggest starting with some simple yet broad questions:

  • How do you drive data-driven insights to make smart, proactive decisions?
  • How do you free up the system from low-value efforts?
  • How do you demonstrate to senior leadership the new normal that has positive cents to the dollar expenses to revenue outcomes vs. traditional human capacity-based models?

In parallel, driven by a measurable ”test and learn” framework, identifying some low friction/ high impact areas to pilot AI would help build a stronger commercial case for more widespread change. This might include:

  • Resource selection
  • Performance review write-ups
  • Lead management
  • Conflict checks
  • Development of sales material

Finally, in the spirit of technological ‘dogfooding’, I asked ChatGPT the same question:

"Given the positive chat about ChatGPT, how can we use this to move the case for AI forward within an organization?

There are several ways to use positive chat about ChatGPT to move the case for AI forward within your organization:

Demonstrate its capabilities: Show the chatbot in action, highlighting its natural language processing and ability to generate human-like responses.

Share success stories: Share case studies or testimonials from organizations that have successfully integrated AI technology into their workflow and achieved significant benefits.

Highlight the cost-effectiveness: Emphasize how AI technology can help reduce costs, increase efficiency and streamline processes.

Address concerns: Address common concerns about AI, such as job displacement, and provide solutions to mitigate these risks.

Show the potential for growth: Demonstrate how AI can help your organization stay ahead of the curve and be at the forefront of innovation.

Involve decision-makers: Involve key decision-makers in the demonstration and discussions about AI, so they can experience the technology first-hand and make informed decisions. 

Offer training and support: Offer training and support to employees to help them understand and adapt to AI technology, so they feel confident in its implementation."

Not bad, but not the whole answer. The deep sceptics and fearmongers often present a conflict between tech and people. My experience is much different. The value is in the combination. And that is where the real prizes lie.