First of all, I did not use ChatGPT for this post. I probably should have, but this time I went solo (okay, our folks probably used Grammarly or some other tool to edit it). Secondly, there are A LOT of articles about ChatGPT and other AI tools flooding your social media feeds lately. I wanted to take a step back and reflect on what I think the key takeaways are with respect to all the hype. Full disclosure: I usually downplay the hype. But this time, it’s different. This. Changes. Everything.
While ChatGPT gets the most attention, conversational AI tools already out there and coming soon (think Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Co-Pilot, which is based on their investment in ChatGPT) will have a profound impact on your business, and it is already happening. There is a lot to unpack about that statement, so here we go:
- Anyone in the process of adopting the whole Low-Code/Citizen Developer model (building your own apps or technical solutions) should be happy (and maybe more than a little bit worried). Right now, ChatGPT can help you code anything from a spreadsheet to a website and anything in-between. That’s right. Want to know how to create a formula to extract and analyze data from your spreadsheet or database? Ask ChatGPT. While it may take some iterations, it will get you the answer you need to do it yourself. Once Microsoft’s Co-Pilot is rolled out … you can literally ask it to create an application for you. While those apps might be simple right now, they get you started, and you can iterate from there (using the chatbot). Moreover, this capability will only get more advanced … and it will happen quickly. Bottom line: You can do more yourself with people who are not professional developers. This is empowering, but it comes with baggage.
- Governance has never been more important. If anyone can create an application or otherwise engage in building a solution, you need to have standards and a process to control how these things are developed and rolled out. You don’t want just anyone creating and publishing an app (no matter how easy it is to do or how useful it may be). This is just asking for a security breach (either releasing privileged/confidential information or creating a hole in your network). Of course, you can always ask the chatbot if there is a problem…
- The pace of change will be hard to keep up with. While you and your staff will be empowered in ways never thought possible, even a few months ago, you will need to keep track of what is going on yourself. After that, you will need help from a vendor. Here’s an example: Once Microsoft’s Co-Pilot is released, you will need to constantly track how it works, and what it is capable of, all the while keeping track of advancements. But remember … you can always ask ChatGPT (via Co-Pilot) to help you do these things! Nevertheless, I recommend that you designate people inside the organization to keep track of these capabilities so you can exploit them as quickly as possible. A trusted vendor is critical in this process as the pace of change may be too much for some folks … especially those of you in small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profit organizations.
- Speaking of vendors, your relationship with technology partners will change. If you are a Microsoft shop, you will need help in adopting and understanding how AI-infused tools work and what they are good at (and what they are not so good at). This goes for any technology platform you have (think Salesforce, Oracle NetSuite, etc.). But just when you think you have it worked out … capabilities will have changed. You will need a vendor who knows what’s coming and how to make the best use of it. Remember, you will be able to do more yourself than ever before, but your vendor will also be able to do things faster and better too. This constant push and pull between you and your vendor will accelerate. The bottom line: the nature of what you get from your technology vendor is changing as fast as AI technologies themselves. Choose wisely.
It’s hard to overstate that we are in a transformative time. The capabilities at our fingertips are both exciting and a little scary. The trick now is understanding how to take advantage of these capabilities without them taking advantage of you. And just when you thought you had a handle on it … it will have changed. Get trusted advice, and expect things to change very, very, quickly.