The use of AI and leveraging ChatGPT for business is revolutionising the way even small businesses can grow and scale. No longer a secret sauce, it’s becoming a key ingredient for increasing efficiency, productivity and creativity – but what’s the truth about working smarter not harder using AI.
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If you haven’t been living under a stone, and I mean that with the utmost respect because it does depend on the work you do and what you read … across both education and business sectors the field of AI has exploded. and particularly over the past year.
Artificial Intelligence or AI and more specifically the new and fast emerging tool ChatGPT has to be one of the most disruptive technologies since social media came on the scene. ChatGPT is exploding … so what is it, why should we care, and how can we use it to best effect to support our business?
And how can you get started, even if you haven’t even looked at it, and I really do encourage you to at least have a play. In your web browser, type (or click) chat.openai.com and sign up – the free account is fine to begin with – and just experiment asking it to generate stuff for you.
The business landscape is rapidly evolving, and AI is at the forefront of this transformation, offering a myriad of opportunities to harness data, streamline operations, and make data-driven decisions. Whether you’re a small consulting firm seeking to optimise client engagements or a solo entrepreneur looking to enhance productivity, AI is your ally in the pursuit of growth and success.
In this 3-part mini-series, we embark on a journey into the realm of Artificial Intelligence and its profound impact on small businesses today. Those burying their head in the technical sand, will lose the AI competitive advantage.
AI is more than just a buzzword; it’s a strategic imperative for businesses of all sizes. It empowers organisations to tap into the wealth of data at their disposal, extracting valuable insights that drive innovation and competitiveness.
From automating routine tasks to offering predictive analytics, AI has the potential to revolutionise business. There’s also a huge impact on the production of content, on the writing of copy, and on creation of courses, which we’ll look at in the later parts.
As we delve into the intricacies of AI in business, keep in mind that this is your gateway to understanding the limitless possibilities that AI presents. The world of entrepreneurship and consulting is on the cusp of a technological revolution, and by embracing AI-driven strategies, you’re not only future-proofing your business but also positioning it for sustained growth and prosperity.
In this first article (and podcast episode 97), we’ll unravel the multifaceted world of AI applications, from customer service chatbots to data-driven marketing strategies. Join us as we explore how small businesses are leveraging AI to stay ahead in the ever-changing business landscape.
The AI Revolution?
The use of AI and ChatGPT technologies are literally revolutionising the way businesses operate, market and grow. By leveraging these powerful tools, there’s potential to substantially increase efficiency, productivity and profitability to accelerate your business growth.
Sound far-fetched? Let’s explore what it enables, what are the benefits and challenges and how to turn the opportunity to your competitive advantage.
There may be a lot of hype, but sometimes it’s justified. In this article, I’m going to attempt to highlight what AI and specifically generative AI tools such as ChatGPT enable, how it’s changed the game for many marketers and course creators.
What I want to focus on is what AI and ChatGPT is, what challenges it presents to us as professional education-orientated service providers, and where’s the leverage to be found in using it in your business.
Because with the right strategies, businesses can make use of AI-powered tools to maximise their efficiency, profitability and growth potential. Small to medium-sized businesses can make their operations more efficient by using AI tools to attend to tasks they might not have the time or the resources for.
In fact, the topic of AI is likely to pop up all over the business and political landscape, because like it or not AI technologies and the likes of ChatGPT are not going anywhere. It’s something that will be integral to our digital world from now on.
But it’s important to keep in mind that AI is only a tool and cannot replace human expertise, experience and contribution.
AI is not ‘new’…
In the 1960s, MIT computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum created ELIZA, a chatbot that mimicked human-like dialogue. The programme shocked users, sparking public interest in the opportunities afforded by artificial intelligence. While ELIZA’s capabilities were limited, it set the groundwork for the current AI revolution.
When most individuals are asked about artificial intelligence, they usually approach the topic through the lens of science fiction. They’ll talk about Blade Runner, I, Robot, Terminator, and other Hollywood-produced parodies.
So, the concept of AI is not new. In actuality, its significance in our daily lives beyond what we see in movies or TV has been generally overlooked or under appreciated. Did you know, for instance, that AI is used in many of the everyday applications we use on our smart devices; it determines the advertisements we see on social media, and even follows and predicts our activity across these platforms?
What’s new, then? What’s making us shift our attention over the past year? Well, in particular it’s a new phase of AI known as generative AI, which came to public view with Open AI’s introduction of ChatGPT in November 2022.
A large quantity of text data from several sources, such as books, articles, websites, and other textual resources, was used to train ChatGPT, an OpenAI chatbot, until September 2021. It can provide replies and offer information on a broad range of subjects thanks to its training.
At the heart of this sharing are algorithms that decide what to display you in your feed or on the website you’re viewing. Those algorithms have been fine-tuned throughout time with the express goal of capturing and holding your attention. There’s no discernment whether the material is useful or accurate or biased.
Now, let’s also just be clear. AI is only machine learning based on data and algorithms. AI is not sentient. Yet, seriously, just what’s landed in our world and what it’s capable of is staggering, surprising, and in many ways downright shocking. The fast emergence and growth of ChatGPT, is absolutely astounding.
And yes, that’s a lot of hyper-hypey adjectives. And despite being in the technology consulting field, I’m not one for jumping on any technology bandwagons, shiny object syndrome has never really been a thing for me. But, if you consider it was only released to the general public less than a year ago (Nov 2022), both its use and its proficiency have already grown exponentially. If you’ve been using version 3.5, then 4.0 will blow your mind.
A plethora of additional generative AI tools emerged in the months that followed ChatGPT’s debut, as other software companies scrambled to keep up.
So let’s kick off with just a few headlines on how to leverage AI and ChatGPT. We’re going to explore this in regards to productivity and business growth, but first we need to understand how to use it well and the risks in the marketplace of people using it … badly.
How Can AI Help Your Business?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly progressing, as seen by recent accomplishments like as OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Midjourney’s image generating tool, to mention just two. Emerging AI solutions may automate and assist a wide range of commercial processes, cutting costs and increasing the speed and efficiency with which humans can work – from decision-making to data analysis to writing.
AI is already being used by large corporations, small-to-medium-sized organisations, and single entrepreneurs. According to DigitalOcean’s May 2023 Currents poll, around 61% of organisations anticipate to boost their use of generative AI/ML this year.
However, before jumping into implementing AI for your business, it’s critical to grasp how this technology works, including its benefits and drawbacks. Because while there are many advantages that organisations may receive from implementing AI technology, there are also the concerns that come with incorporating this innovation into your company’s arsenal.
Artificial intelligence encompasses several disciplines, each with its own set of technical procedures: machine learning, deep learning, robotics and automation, and the ones we’re probably mostly ourselves going to harness first, natural language processing and generative AI, which have led to the development of sophisticated applications like voice assistants, chatbots, content creation, and language translation.
These last two are fast-growing subsets led by Open AI’s ChatGPT, which is already driving much of business’s content creation. By finding patterns in massive datasets, generative AI, a rapidly expanding type of AI, is excellent at creating digital material including text, films, music, and photos.
AI is the use of machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as learning, reasoning, and problem-solving. By leveraging AI, you can automate repetitive tasks, gain insights from data, and improve decision-making. If you’re looking to scale your business, you need to consider incorporating AI into your operations.
For example, AI-powered chatbots can handle customer inquiries and support, freeing up your staff to focus on more complex tasks. AI can also analyse customer data to identify patterns and preferences, allowing you to tailor your marketing and sales efforts. By implementing AI, you can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the customer experience. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to accelerate your business growth with AI.
If you’re looking to double your productivity, we’re seeing a whole host of use cases in both the education space and business arena. On the one hand, using AI tools like ChatGPT can be equivalent to adding a reasonably competent assistant to your business.
On the other hand, the fact these are tools anyone and everyone can use, presents certain obstacles and new challenges too in terms of authenticating content like books and courses.
Across this 3-part series, I’ll be sharing some of the use cases we’re seeing in relation to key business processes, including marketing and sales, content creation and online courses. I’ll be taking you through some of the biggest obstacles for professional educators and expert service providers and how to tackle them in the age of AI.
The AI Competitive Advantage
In today’s fast-paced business environment, companies need to stay ahead of the game to remain competitive. One way to achieve this is to invest some time into learning how to leverage the power of AI.
As I’m recording this series, I’m in the process of finalising the manuscript for a short monograph to accompany my book Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age. It’s a specific and detailed run through both possibilities and pitfalls of AI, which I hope will help point you to many of the genuine ways small businesses can accelerate their profitability and growth.
WANT an Advanced Readers Copy?
If you want an advanced copy and are happy to provide me with feedback and possibly a review when it’s published, opt in below and I’ll email you the download link when the first manuscript draft is ready.
Artificial intelligence provides high-performance technologies that help businesses increase efficiency, save costs, and boost revenue, and is already transforming the corporate environment. According to 2019 McKinsey research, over 63% of the companies questioned reported more revenue and a better return on investment after implementing AI for resource optimisation and cost reduction.
The major business applications of AI range from operations and sales to marketing and customer support, then more onto content and course building opportunities, AI has the potential to transform the way businesses operate. By automating repetitive tasks, AI can free you up to focus on more strategic work, such as developing new products or improving customer experiences.
AI can also help businesses make better decisions by analysing vast amounts of data and providing insights that humans may miss. This can lead to improved forecasting, better risk management, and increased revenue. Furthermore, AI can help businesses personalise their marketing efforts, improving customer engagement and loyalty.
The integration and deployment of new technologies, as well as the comprehension of the ethical and legal ramifications, provide a number of difficulties and issues when using AI in business. For organisations to properly utilise AI and capitalise on its promise to spur innovation, productivity, and expansion, they must effectively navigate these obstacles.
Even the small business owner and solo professional service providers can expect to see major productivity benefits and cost savings from using AI. Working smarter across a whole array of key business operations from automating repetitive tasks to predicting and providing better customer and client service, AI tools can take the heavy lifting out of much of the work they and/or their team performs every day.
Some key use cases for AI in business were captured in a recent article by Digital Ocean: https://www.digitalocean.com/resources/article/artificial-intelligence-in-business such as for:
- Conducting data analysis for predictive sales forecasting
- Automating tedious administrative tasks
- Improving customer service and boosting lifetime customer value
- Upgrading marketing efforts
- Enhancing cybersecurity and fraud detection
Despite the vast range of possible uses for AI, consultants, coaches and service providers would do well to employ the technology with focus and caution in order to best suit their own requirements.
Forbes recently published an insightful article outlining the various ways you can start to leverage AI for growth and efficiency. But many of these examples are not ripe for a small business or solo entrepreneur.
While AI offers significant advantages to the SME / SMB, leveraging its capabilities is not without challenges. A lack of technical capability and comprehension of the field means many business owners find it hard to know how to integrate AI technologies into current business processes is one of these. It can also be challenging for organisations to stay up to date with the newest advancements due to AI’s fast developing nature.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, the potential benefits of AI make it a worthwhile venture. The chance to significantly improve productivity, improve customer service, and eventually raise profitability is a compelling reason for firms to engage on the AI path.
By setting up an AI Chatbot, businesses can also improve their customer service by providing instant and personalised responses to inquiries. The hurdles may be effectively addressed with the correct approach and resources, revealing AI’s transformational potential. It’s a bit more of a step implementing it, but the payoffs can be quite substantial, and immediate.
And in fact, chatbot messengers are nothing new. I’ve been on many people’s websites or Facebook profiles or ads where there’s an automated chat box that opens up and asks you if you need help. This has been around for years, but few small businesses are taking advantage, perhaps assuming it’s technically difficult or only for larger businesses. Maybe you think it’s not how you like to do business.
But the reality is it really works to engage your potential customers or clients, they feel supported interacting with your brand even though we all know it’s not a real human on the other side.
Instant AI Use Cases for Small Businesses
I’m not going to do an AI or ChatGPT 101 here. You can go look up what AI and ChatGPT is and what people think and what’s happening anywhere on the internet. There are already a plethora of articles and courses teaching the basics including a vast array of use cases. What I want to do here, is to raise awareness of the potential, the “right here, right now” use cases: that is, how small businesses can immediately start utilising AI tools.
The first step in getting on board with AI is to identify the specific business needs that AI tools can address. This involves a thorough requirements gathering process to understand the unique challenges and opportunities within your business where AI can be beneficial.
Once you have a defined goal in mind, the AI augmentation you need will become obvious, and the time between idea and solution will be lot shorter.
Leveraging AI requires a strategic process that encompasses establishing business requirements, selecting the appropriate AI technology, deploying it, monitoring and assessing its success, and growing it.
AI and ChatGPT can certainly help reduce the overload of tedious and repetitive tasks, generate insights, and create personalised customer experiences. And this is really what helps you do more with less, meaning increase your productivity without increasing your time or spending money on on outsourcing and hiring staff.
The wild claim to double your business productivity and accelerate business growth – is not actually wild, it’s something people have been experiencing – who are only just starting to play with this.
Despite having less resources than larger corporations, small businesses may expand their operations by leveraging AI to do more in less time, pretty much for free. From automating expenditure management to creating a sales copy to creating inventive artwork from text.
Given that small businesses are still in the early stages of adopting generative AI, it would be advantageous to use the technology sooner rather than later to get a competitive edge. If by using these tools we can speed up many of the tasks we do ourselves – personally or across a team – then it’s like outsourcing. It frees you up to do the high-revenue focused activities that only you as the expert can do.
Imagine you can program a tool to do things that you CAN do, but would take you hours. What about things you’re actually not very fast at, or lack good skills to do?
Here’s some quick examples before we get into everything:
What if we could ask ChatGPT to give us a list of target companies that meet certain criteria? What if we then ask it to give us some market research information on those companies … what they value, who their customers are and so on.
How about ideas, outlining, even drafting? Avoid staring at an empty page desperately hoping for inspiration to come. With ChatGPT, you can’t make a start. Ask ChatGPT to give you ten ideas, write outline content, build out each section, create sales pages, email sequences, heck even write a whole book. Now, you need only spend your time or paid copywriters’ time, refining and restructuring, putting on the finishing touches that makes it truly your final voice and creation. How much time and money might this save you?
What if we use the power of AI to ask ChatGPT to suggest topics for a course that fits the needs of our ideal client? What if we then continue and ask it to suggest a curriculum outline for that course? What if we ask it to suggest lesson plans, write a video script for each lesson? We’d have done a TONNE of the work that would otherwise take us or our team hours even days to design and script.
What if you could use an AI-driven image generator to create realistic imagery from your requirements via text commands? You could avoid spending hours hunting out stock photos or icons?
These are just some of the things my team and I have been playing around with. And we’re just getting started…
Similar to how students know not to recite Cliffs Notes (Coles Notes) on a test, businesses should not rely solely on AI output but rather use that output to get more productive, more creative and work smarter. If we can use AI-ChatGPT for the initial research, outlining, and drafting, we increase our capacity without hiring any staff. How much does the idea appeal to you, using a tool to cut out a lot of the legwork of tasks we spend hours on in our business?
So far, our wild claim is mostly about speed, efficiency, volume … I have to say it’s harder to find good use cases in terms of delivery if you’re only delivering everything 1:1 to clients. But if you take on some of the leveraged business models I work on with my clients, and we talk about in this podcast, AI-driven ChatGPT and other tools offer up a gigantic opportunity to increase your reach and revenue through content, copy and course creation.
Transitioning your service model to more leveraged approaches is something I talk about in more depth in my book Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age, where Chapter 6 looks at Leveraged Delivery to enable growth and scaling through online and blended programs (aka hybrid courses).
So we covered a fair amount of ground and still really only touched the surface. Nonetheless, I hope it gave you insights and what to go explore further that relate to how you run your business.
Next time in Part 2, I’m going to share How ChatGPT can help you boost your business marketing, sales and revenue, and then in Part 3 we’ll delve into AI-powered course building. So, don’t forget to subscribe to the iNSIGHTS newsletter or podcast show so you get alerted when the next blog article and pod episode drops.
And if you want more, I’m finalising the manuscript for a short monograph to accompany my book Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age to address both possibilities and pitfalls of AI, which I hope will help point you to many of the genuine ways you can leverage AI to accelerate your business’s profitability. If you’d like an advanced copy and are happy to provide me with feedback and possibly a review when it’s published, go to jayallyson.com/leveragedbusiness/the-ai-advantage/ to register your interest.
Talk again soon! Ciao ciao for now.
- Jay’s book: Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age and accompanying monograph (coming soon, see below)
- Key use cases for AI in business were captured in a recent article by Digital Ocean
- The Economist: How businesses are experimenting with ChatGPT-like services
- Forbes article outlining the various ways you can start to leverage AI for growth and efficiency
Go to the second article in this series Survive and Thrive in the Age of AI:
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