Are we at the start of an AI Chatbots revolution?
Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots have the potential to revolutionise the way businesses interact with their customers and operate internally. These chatbots, which use AI to carry out conversations with users in a natural and intuitive way, can provide a wide range of benefits to businesses, including improved customer service, increased efficiency, and cost savings. However, there are also potential negative impacts to consider when using AI chatbots in business.
Benefits of AI chatbots for businesses
- Improved customer service: AI chatbots can handle a wide range of customer inquiries and provide assistance or information in real-time, 24/7. This can help businesses to quickly resolve customer issues and improve customer satisfaction. In addition, chatbots can be customized to provide personalized experiences for customers, helping businesses to build stronger relationships with their clients.
- Increased efficiency and cost savings: Chatbots can handle tasks such as booking appointments, processing orders, and providing information, freeing up human employees to focus on more complex tasks. This can help businesses to increase their productivity and efficiency, leading to cost savings.
- Personalized marketing: Chatbots can be used to create personalized marketing campaigns, providing targeted and relevant content to customers based on their interests and needs. This can help businesses to effectively reach and engage with their target audience.
- Social media integration: Chatbots can be integrated into social media platforms, allowing businesses to quickly and easily interact with their customers and build brand awareness.
- Data analysis: Chatbots can analyse customer data and interactions to provide insights into customer needs and preferences, helping businesses to tailor their products and services to better meet the needs of their clients.
Potential negative impacts of AI chatbots for businesses
- Job displacement: One concern is the potential for job displacement, as chatbots can automate tasks that were previously carried out by humans. This could lead to job losses and the need for workers to retrain for new roles.
- Biases: There is also the potential for chatbots to perpetuate biases if they are trained on biased data, which could have negative consequences for businesses and their customers.
- Security and privacy: There are concerns about the security and privacy of data used to train and operate AI chatbots, as well as the potential for chatbots to be used for malicious purposes.
- Limited capabilities: While chatbots can handle a wide range of tasks, they may not be able to handle complex or unusual requests as well as a human would. This could lead to customer frustration and a decline in satisfaction.
- Misuse: There is also the risk that chatbots could be misused by businesses, for example by providing false or misleading information to customers or using customer data for nefarious purposes.
AI chatbots have the potential to bring significant benefits to businesses in terms of customer service, efficiency, and cost savings. However, it is important to carefully consider the potential negative impacts of using chatbots and to ensure that they are used ethically and responsibly. This may include developing policies and guidelines for the use of chatbots, training employees on how to use them effectively, and regularly reviewing and updating the chatbots to ensure they are meeting the needs of customers and the business. It is also important to consider the potential for job displacement and biases, and to take steps to mitigate these risks. Ensuring the security and privacy of data used to train and operate chatbots is also critical. By carefully managing the use of AI chatbots, technology leaders can help their businesses to realize the full potential of this technology.
Is the AI revolution here and will it be televised? Would the fact I didn’t write the above, ChatGPT did change your answer? All I did was asked for a blog post on how AI chat bots will change the world for businesses, wait 30 seconds and voila, blog post done. There are clearly implications for a tool such as this, both positive and potentially negative as it outlined above, but I wanted to summarise with a more human perspective.
If you can construct a well worded question, utilise your creativity into text or challenges then the answers it can provide are often accurate and appear almost considered. It is powerful and with great power becomes great responsibility. Organisations need to be quickly look at their policies and procedures around AI to ensure its safe adoption. It has its uses and its limitations, it is just a manmade tool after all and like any other manmade tool, needs human interaction to get the most out of it. If used in the wrong way there can be repercussions. Hammers are great at bashing things, not so good at dusting fragile ornaments.
There may wider challenges often not always thought about. How is plagiarism going to be detected especially within education, coding or scientific communities needs to be carefully considered and needs to be supported with robust polices as well detection tools which are AI aware. Licencing implications of its output such are created code or copyrighted material which was able to call on could open up legal challenges and need to be carefully considered.
I reached out to the wider Advisory team and the other Account Chief Technologists at Softcat for their thoughts on it to give a wider perception on the possibilities. The general consensus was that of excitement. In Alex Mold’s view, she sees this an real opportunity to solve challenges for businesses that have been trying to shift left their IT operations. This is often in order to optimise costs and reduce wait times to increase customer satisfaction. When attempted recently there has been a somewhat timid successes often due to limitations of the existing technologies and the complexities of existing services, policys, processes and information which has hindered the ability to shift left. Traditional technical support channels (such as phone & email) haven’t been displaced yet as the functionality just wasn’t good enough yet. ChatGPT and others now may be at the level where they can potentially go further. It is better equipped to shift left, but could eliminate 1st line support completely where it can categorize, troubleshoot and triage potentially all service requests, incidents all the way to 3rd line support. This empowers a shift right instead without overloading the technical teams and maintaining customer experience.
Paul Fleming rightly raised the energy and ecological cost implications of such powerful computing being something to be aware of, whilst its wider impact can only be measured by the creativity input into it. But the ability to self create code / applications is a paradigm shift for the democratisation of code which will disrupt markets at a faster rate. If the AI platforms can be powered by renewable energy aligned datacentres then the benefits could easily outweigh the ecological cost.
We are also seeing enhancements to our advisory and consultancy workloads. “Co-creating content with AI will enable us to produce better quality output faster and move the starting blocks further along the process which can only enhance customer experience” – Andy Hermsen ACT. In the words of our Chief Technologist for Healthcare – Phillipa Winter “It’s bloody brilliant”.
So, are ChatGPT and other AI chatbots something to be embraced or feared, is Skynet upon us, is it time for the tin foil hats and to become preppers? I don’t think so. It is clearly a very powerful new tool, it has the ability to be daunting like any new revolutionary break through of the past. The industrial revolution was daunting to some as automation of manual tasks were taken over by machines. This feels like another industrial revolution of the digital age, driving machine enhancements to replace more manual and soon to be archaic ways of working. AI and its usefulness has hit enough of a threshold to be revolutionary, and finally to start to provide the benefits it always promised. The adoption of AI is here to stay and will continue to evolve. Viva la revolution.
As a foot note I wanted to share what I felt was a rather heart-warming side to tools such as ChatGPT. After a trip to the national space centre last week, I was asked by my 4 year old son what a singularity was. After failing to a couple of times to answer the question in a way he could understand I turned to ChatGPT. The explanation it provided was tailored and simplified to my son’s level he was able to clearly understand it finally, which opened up a world of new questions for him and continued to drive his passion for all things space related. We then applied what he learnt into the AI to generate a new bedtime story which covered all the areas and characters he wanted such as Felicette the first cat in space. With AI picture generation we could even create pictures for his story of space exploration driven by what he was learning and his imagination. The excitement on his face when we read the story he created to my wife and his brother was a truly magical moment. Even as technological progress continues to drive forward a never ending stream of enhancements, there is always space and time for the human touch.