July 13, 2023

How should your business use generative AI?

hero image for blog post

This post is a sneak peek at our workshop, Generative AI Business Strategy.

Building with generative AI will separate winners from losers over the next five years. I’ve seen it before – first with the advent of the browser-based web in 1993, then with native mobile apps and cloud/API-based apps in the 2010s. These massive technology shifts catch incumbents flat-footed

Take it from me, an old guy: If you don’t harness generative AI for your business now (and push through the frustration when it doesn’t work immediately), you will fall behind.

But not every business should adopt AI in the same way. Some are ready to enter new categories or build new products; others should be focused on automating repetitive tasks and lowering costs.

Your AI journey starts with assessing where you are, and where generative AI can help. So let’s get started.

Why should you care about generative AI?

AI has been around for years in different forms – manufacturing, driverless cars, etc. But generative AI is the first time that AI has proven it can do knowledge work. And while it can (and will) take some of our jobs, for most of us, it will be a force for augmentation and acceleration.

The reason? It’s highly accessible, and it enables fast time-to-value.

In the old world, an AI-powered project would cost $500K to millions, require a team of 5+ AI/ML engineers, and take 1-2 years to get to positive ROI.

Now, we’re looking at a cost of $20/month, 1 knowledge worker, and less than a week. That’s insanely fast time-to-value.

The winners won’t just be those who can build AI-powered tools, but those who can use tools the fastest to get things done.

The five generative AI use cases

There are five areas where AI can make the most significant dent in your business.

1. Text, code, image, or video generation.

This means drafting email copy, blog posts, product pages, code, etc., using tools like Copy.ai, Adobe Firefly.ai, and Midjourney.

2. Text, image, video, or data synthesis or processing.

This means using AI to process a large amount of content or data and spit out insights. This is being used to do things like detect fraud, moderate content, and summarize product reviews (see Amazon’s new feature).

3. Idea generation.

This is using AI to act as a thought partner. You say, “Come up with ten ideas for a social media campaign on eco-friendly waste disposal,” AI provides them, and you go back and forth. TripAdvisor has leveraged this to provide vacation ideas.

4. Agents or co-pilots.

You can use AI as a personal or functional assistant, to manage your calendar, act as a sales BDR, or plug into tools like Windows or Google Sheets.

5. Chatbots.

Customer service companies are already using AI to act as chatbots, tutors, therapists, and coaches (with varying amounts of success).

At the moment, generative AI still has some weaknesses because it was trained on humans. It hallucinates (aka lies), it has biases, and it’s only as good as the data it’s trained on. And because it sounds like it knows what it’s talking about, it can be easy to take its misinformation at face value.

But while it has weaknesses, the foundational model companies are solving these issues as quickly as they can.

And these weaknesses will scare away a good percentage of your peer group – meaning you have a big opportunity to push through and persevere when others will quit.

The AI Strategy Framework: Optimize, accelerate, or transform

There are three ways that you and your business will likely use AI:

  • Using someone else’s application (like Fathom or Copy.ai) developed on top of a general model
  • Using a general, open access AI model like ChatGPT or Dall-E
  • Building your own model on top of your own training data to create an application for your users

But what you’ll do depends a lot on the state and mindset of your business. Here are three “modes” we’ve developed to help you understand how you should use AI at work right now.

Optimize ($)

Use AI to make your internal efforts more efficient

Accelerate ($$)

Use AI to make your existing product or service better

Transform ($$$)

Use AI to create a new product or service line

How to identify the right AI mode for your business

The right AI mode for your business depends on a number of factors – from organizational buy-in to access to data. We’ve developed this proprietary framework to help you assess your readiness to leverage AI.

Go through this framework (downloadable here) to assess your current situation.

Scoring system

Low = 1 point

Medium = 2 points

High = 3 points

Total score

0-7: Optimize

8-16: Optimize and/or accelerate

17-21: All three: Optimize, accelerate, and transform

Below, you can read Section’s take on this exercise. We used this framework to assess our business and determined we should be focused on optimizing and/or accelerating – not transforming, quite yet.

If you’re on the bubble (scoring 5 or 6, or 13 or 14), go and do some more research. The data may move your scores up or down.

What’s next?

After you identify the right mode for your business, we have a framework to take you through idea generation. Stay tuned for our next post, or join me to do this exercise in person at my Generative AI Strategy workshop.

Remember, there will be three types of companies:

  • Those that do nothing for now (or even ban GPT for internal use)
  • Those that learn and prototype, testing the water with 1-2 pilots
  • Those that make a bet to accelerate and transform their business

My hope for you: To use this framework to make a clear, confident recommendation for your business. Let me know if it’s useful, and I’ll see you in class.

Greg Shove
Greg Shove, CEO