Artificial Intelligence. It’s a phrase that has long been found in science fiction books and movies, but it’s also a concept that has been a reality (in one form or another) for decades. Predictive text was making it’s appearance as early as the ‘90s, while early Microsoft users might have fond memories of Clippy popping up to offer assistance in Word and Publisher. And while many would argue that these examples aren’t strictly AI – since they weren’t thinking for themselves or using any real ‘intelligence’ in the assistance that they offered – it’s clear to see that Artificial Intelligence has been getting smarter over the past few years, and over the past year in particular.
What Is Chat GPT?
If you haven’t heard about Chat GPT over the past few months, then where have you been? Or maybe it’s just an indication of how addicted to technology I am, since Chat GPT has been on my mind since it was first announced.
Think of it as Google on steroids. You ask it questions, and it delves into its database of information to formulate answers for you. But not just stock-standard answers. You can ask it to write poems, to put together code, to reword sentences in better ways for different purposes.
To me, it is a clear example of where the future is heading. And Microsoft agrees! They’ve already incorporated it into Bing search engine, and are integrating it with tools like Teams. And while Google might not be investing in Chat GPT in particular, they are looking into the creation of their own AI. In two, five, or ten years’ time, I think that the internet is going to be a very different experience to what it is today.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to wait that long to be leveraging Artificial Intelligence for your business’ advantage.
How Can You Use AI For Your Business?
While AI is advancing at a lightning fast rate, there are already great AI developments that can be put to use for your business. Let’s look at just a few examples of Artificial Intelligence that are already at your fingertips:
1. Data Analysis
Companies gather a huge amount of data on a daily basis, most of which ends up being stored on a server somewhere without ever really being looked at. This is because the more data you have, the more difficult it can be to gain meaningful insights from it. It becomes hard to see the wood for the trees, as they say. But it doesn’t have to be.
There are plenty of tools available for data analysis and visualisation. Power BI is one of the most popular tools in Microsoft 365 for a good reason. But you don’t even need to go that far. There are data analysis tools right at your fingertips. Take Microsoft Excel, for example. It’s a tool that millions of people use every single day. And there’s a little button in there that most of those millions have never even noticed.
It’s called ‘Analyze Data’. And I’m willing to bet that you haven’t clicked on it before. Even those who have seen it sitting there at the top of their menu probably haven’t, because they just don’t know what it’s going to do. You’ve spent hours fine tuning your spreadsheet – the last thing you want to do is click on a button that’s going to mess it all up!
But do it. Click that button. And prepare to be amazed at how Microsoft is incorporating AI into every facet of Microsoft 365 to make your life easier. It won’t make any changes to the information that you see in front of you, but it will provide you with visualisation tools for seeing that data in different ways, will highlight statistics that you may not even realise, and will offer the option for you to ‘Ask a question about your data’ that it will try to answer through analysis.
2. Trend Prediction
I’ve mentioned Power BI already in terms of the value it can hold for visualising your existing data. But one of the biggest strengths of the platform is its ability to not just analyse existing information, but use that analysis to predict trends for your business.
Keeping your company ahead of the marketing curb is a challenge that every business in every industry faces. And here is a tool that can help you to do just that. Power BI not only looks at your existing data, helping you to discover trends that already exist in your services and customer base, but it also takes that information and uses it to forecast future trends within your business and your industry.
The more data that you have, the more insights you are providing the AI with to understand your business, your service offerings, your customer base and your market. This will allow it to more accurately predict trends for your business, allowing you to better manage resources or develop product models.
3. Improving Communication
The way that we search for answers and insights is changing. It’s become less about typing in a keyword and seeing what pops up, and more about finding answers to specific questions that you might have. And while Google is great at the whole keyword thing, bringing up website after website where you might be able to find the answer that you’re looking for, AI is far better at taking that information and collating it for you.
Let’s take a simple question as an example. “What is a Managed IT Services provider?”
Type it into Google, and you get 446 million results. Depending on which browser you’re using, you might find a summary about what Managed Services are straight from Wikipedia, which isn’t quite answering the question, but is a good starting point for doing your own deep-dive into the topic. If that’s what you wanted.
Now let’s type it into Chat GPT. Here’s what I got:
“A Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) is a company that provides a range of IT services and support to businesses and organizations. MSPs take care of a company’s technology infrastructure, including hardware, software, network, and security, and they often do this remotely, without the need for an on-site presence.
MSPs offer proactive services to manage a company’s IT infrastructure to prevent downtime and ensure optimal performance. They typically work on a subscription basis, providing ongoing support and monitoring services for a monthly fee.
Some of the services that MSPs offer include:
1. Network Monitoring and Management: MSPs monitor a company’s network infrastructure to ensure that it is operating smoothly, and they can quickly identify and resolve any issues that arise.
2. Data Backup and Recovery: MSPs provide data backup and disaster recovery services to ensure that a company’s data is safe and can be restored in case of a disaster.
3. Security Management: MSPs provide cybersecurity services to protect a company’s data and network infrastructure from cyber threats.
4. Helpdesk Support: MSPs provide helpdesk support to their clients, helping users with any IT issues they may encounter.
5. Cloud Services: MSPs provide cloud services, such as hosting, data storage, and software as a service (SaaS), to help companies reduce their IT infrastructure costs.
Overall, an MSP helps businesses to focus on their core competencies by taking care of their IT needs, allowing them to improve their productivity, efficiency, and security.”
As you can tell, there’s quite a difference between the responses. One is great for research, for learning more about a subject over time, while the other is perfect for just getting a simple answer to the question that you’re asking.
That’s not to say that search engines are obsolete. Not yet, anyway. But they serve a different purpose, which can be well supplemented by Artificial Intelligence. Knowing when to use each platform can save you hours of time, frustration and procrastination.
4. Improving Communication
Being a wordsmith is not everyone’s life goal. Some people are just not great at communication. This is why tools like Grammarly exist. They help you to not just fix spelling and grammatical errors, but to improve the overall tone within your emails and write in clear and concise ways.
And how does Grammarly achieve this feat? Through AI of course! It uses artificially intelligent algorithms to detect intonation within your communications. It can detect when you’re writing an email to a friend, and when you’re writing a formal document, all based on the language that you use. And from there, it makes recommendations for improvements. Because, while comma splices, idioms and verbosity may be great for a blog post, or a friendly email, or a novel, they won’t work well when you’re emailing your lawyer, putting together terms and conditions for your services, or generating a contract for your employees.
5. Honing Your Messaging
While Grammarly does a fantastic job of analysing everyday communications, and ensuring that your spelling, punctuation and grammar are on point, there is another aspect that it is less well-versed in. Marketing.
Your marketing communications, your company culture, your brand alignment, all of these need to be on point for targeting the right customers for your business. And there are plenty of tools out there that can help you to analyse your existing marketing messaging, creating messaging that attracts people to your business, and create call-to-actions that convert website visitors into viable leads.
There are tools like Headline Analyzer, which analyse short sentences and determine how well they will perform. If you’re as into Chat GPT as I am, then you can even paste your messaging in there and ask for advice on how it could be improved. The fact is, there are plenty of tools available to your business to ensure that your messaging is as perfect as possible – and there is no more need to rely on guesswork when it comes to crafting the right communications for your audience.
Where Will AI Go From Here?
It’s so hard to say how AI is going to develop – not without a crystal ball! But one thing is certain – it is advancing in leaps and bounds, and is going to continue to do so for years to come. Finding ways to take advantage of these advancements in technology to make your life easier and to boost your business should be a top priority. Because if you don’t find ways of embracing AI, your business is going to soon find itself being left behind.