Dean Mozrall for RBJ: Just Ask ChatGPT — Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionizing How Business Is Done
As seen in the Rochester Business Journal on March 17, 2023
Just ask ChatGPT: Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing how business is done
All the buzz lately is about ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot designed to produce, in seconds, natural-language responses to user prompts. As Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb write in a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review, ChatGPT can “tell stories and write code. It has the potential to take over certain roles traditionally held by humans, such as copywriting, answering customer service inquiries, writing news reports, and creating legal documents.” (Actually, the authors admit they didn’t write those words, ChatGPT did.)
Putting aside its uncanny entertainment value—such as explaining, in the style of the King James Bible, how to remove a peanut butter sandwich from a VCR: “And it came to pass that a man was troubled by a peanut butter sandwich…”—ChatGPT has the potential to dramatically change the way business gets done. As Bernard Marr writes in Forbes (December 28, 2022): “In light of this new technology, businesses need to think about how they are doing their work, what products and services they offer, and how AIs like ChatGPT could enhance workflows and deliver better customer experiences.”
ChatGPT is getting the headlines; however, it is just one part of the larger cyber-world, dominated as it is by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). For some, perhaps many, that adjective “cyber” can have troubling, even dystopian connotations, giving rise to images of robots and a world ruled by machines.
“However, ‘cyber’ is more a positive term that really starts to show how we are blending the computer ‘mind’ with the human mind and bringing new meaning to efficiency, productivity, and creativity,” says Rick Mislan, senior lecturer in MIS, Marketing and Analytics in Saunders College of Business and creative director, Cyber Range and Training Center at RIT.
We are witnessing, says Mislan, the advent of a host of AI applications that will have wide-ranging impacts on business. Further, write Agrawal, Gans, and Goldfarb, “As AI continues to improve, more and more current jobs will be threatened by automation. But AI presents opportunities as well and will create new jobs and different kinds of organizations.”
What are some of these opportunities? A taste of them is offered by StartUs Insights, which has identified the top 10 AI trends in 2023 among thousands of startups and scaleups. Some of the more intriguing include:
- Natural language processing (NLP): smart assistants like Alexa, search results, predictive text.
- Virtual agents: AI-powered software that has conversations with customers (e.g., customer support).
- AIoT, combing AI with the Internet of Things: autonomous vehicles, smart buildings.
- Computer vision: “Understands” pictures and video—X-ray or traffic-flow analyses, road condition monitoring.
- Digital twins—based on historic data, can have conversations using an individual’s behavior/communication style.
Of course, ChatGPT will be a significant player in this space, too. As Ethan Mollick writes in the Harvard Business Review, “The businesses that understand the significance of this change— and act on it first—will be at a considerable advantage. Especially as ChatGPT is just the first of many similar chatbots that will soon be available, and they are increasing in capacity exponentially every year.”
ChatGPT will be especially impactful in generating engagingly natural-sounding text to automate repetitive tasks normally completed by humans. According to Bernard Marr, the chatbot will be used to compile research, draft content, brainstorm ideas, write code, translate text, and write instructions, among many other uses.
“Customer service is a huge area of opportunity for many companies,” writes Marr. “Businesses can use ChatGPT technology to generate responses for their own customer service chatbots, so they can automate many tasks typically done by humans and radically improve response time.”
As these and other AI applications improve and proliferate, no doubt managers will consider how they can be implemented in their businesses. The internet is replete with advice in this regard. But one analyst, Ben Sherry, writing in Inc., helpfully boils everything down to “3 Questions to Ask Before Building AI Into Your Business Model.”
First, how can AI improve your business? “Ask yourself,” says Sherry, “if automating part of your business has an easily identifiable benefit, or whether you have routine tasks that could easily be automated.”
Second, do you have the relevant data? You must have access to large amounts of quality data for AI to do its job. Ask if the data are complete, accurate, consistent, timely, valid, and unique.
Finally, how much will implementation cost? Most companies will need to bring in AI expertise to create the algorithms needed to run the new program. Writes Sherry, “You should also be sure that you have the budget to implement what could be a costly and lengthy process.”
Aside from these asking themselves these questions, managers should be aware of the inevitable cybersecurity concerns brought about by AI.
“It’s an exploitable opportunity for hackers,” says Andrew Hoyen, president of IGI Cybersecurity. “People are enamored with it and they can use it for all these things, but at the end of the day it’s a pathway for malware, for malicious content, for phishing.”
So, constant vigilance is required. However, AI itself presents a solution to the problem, according to Caleb Barlow, CEO of Cylete LLC.
“The average security operations center even in a mid-size company gets over a million events a day. You can’t process this with a human,” says Barlow. “These need to be triaged, categorized, and investigated. What’s really intriguing about AI is the opportunity to apply AI to this data set so that only the most actionable events are put in front of a human. A learning model has the opportunity to get in front of this because it doesn’t have to be programmed; it can learn what’s good and bad and begin to apply some rules.”
Without a doubt, AI will continue to revolutionize business. Managers should be aware of the possibilities, ask the right questions, and employ the appropriate technologies to drive their businesses, while also protecting their assets.
Jacqueline Mozrall is dean of Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology.