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Will Big-Tech's 'AI Arms Race' Benefit Small Businesses?

Ryan Bialek 2023-02-15
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence AI for Businesses

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT have dominated the technology headlines in early 2023. But what does this all mean for your team's productivity applications, technology spend, and overall operating strategy?

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the capability of computer software to imitate human behavior and intelligence. Through today's AI, software can be used to make predictions, recognize patterns, deeply analyze images, comprehend sound and speech, and interact in natural "human" ways - use reason, discover meaning, and learn from past experiences.

ai-overviewImage Courtesy of Microsoft

With the scale and computing power at which the Cloud operates, it is no surprise that the capabilities of today's AI skills have caught-up to human's science fiction dreams.

The Arms Race

It is being said that AI will define the next great generation of computer software and technology solutions. Put simply, AI will be the "next big thing", so naturally all of the major tech players are vying for their piece of the prize.

This race has recently resulted in the massive acceleration of investments into AI technologies, public announcements, and changes to technology stacks you may be using already. Let's look back:

  • In the early 2000s Microsoft began experimenting with virtual assistants. Anyone remember Clippy?
  • By the mid-2010s, virtual assistants including Siri, Google, Alexa, and Cortana were nearly impossible to avoid on our phones and PCs.
  • By 2016 Microsoft and other tech giants began investing deeply in AI Platforms, including Microsoft Cognitive Services, allowing developers to easily integrate AI and natural language capabilities into their applications.
  • Microsoft announces investments and partnerships with OpenAI.

In More Recent History

What has appeared more recently setting the AI world on fire, is OpenAI's ChatGPT technology. ChatGPT is a chatbot that sits atop impressive improvements in natural conversation, while being praised for its versatility. ChatGPT can compose music, stories, essays, blog posts (trust me a human still wrote this one), and poetry (not a skill of this blog poster). This system can even be extended to write software and mimic existing software environments.

Moreover, ChatGPT is most proficient at answering questions posed in our natural language, making it a very useful way to improve search. If you operated platforms and tools that helped users 'search' enterprise knowledge, or information on the world-wide-web - this sort of thing may be very important to pay attention to:

  • Microsoft recently announced that it will incorporate OpenAI's technology into products like the Bing search engine, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Power Platform, and the Windows operating system.
  • Microsoft also announced Azure OpenAI Services for developers.
  • Google announced Bard, its own competitor to ChatGPT.
  • A multitude of technology companies are rushing their own AI-based offerings (think Meta/Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and similar).
  • ChatGPT becomes the fastest app to reach 100 million monthly active users.

How Can a Small Business Leverage AI Today? 

At Clear Concepts, we have been talking about the idea of "Doing More With Less", and leveraging Robotic Process Automation (RPA) where possible to improve productivity and stay competitive for some time now.

In the last number of years, this readily available form of AI and Machine Learning (ML) has only improved in quality and decreased in price.

Certainly, if your organization or team are looking to conservatively take advantage of the scale economics of AI, RPA is a great place to start, specifically tools like Character Recognition, Forms Process, and Sentiment Analysis. And, if you are interested in getting started right away, Clear Concepts is a trusted partner for RPA and Work Automation implementations.

How Will We Leverage AI in the Future?

In the coming months, expect a deluge of "AI-Infused" features to land in the software products that you use each and every day. These features will likely provide some time-saving capabilities, conversational tools, and easier ways to interact with existing data.

Prepare now for radical shifts in what productivity looks and feels like. Some of these features have already been announced, including AI-Generated Meeting Notes in Microsoft Teams Premium, Smart Compose in Outlook, and Microsoft Designer.

But we need to think a lot bigger to see the full potential technologies like ChatGPT and Azure OpenAI Services have. Consider some examples of how well-trained AI with massive amounts of information and data history may be disruptive to business and operating models in numerous economic sectors:

  • Healthcare: Chatbot-based assistants that can improve patient care by providing real-time treatment information. Reduce the burden of paperwork on medical professionals.
  • Social Services: Connect families and individuals with the services and supports they need, providing personalized guidance from any location.
  • Transportation: Massively personalized travel recommendations, planning, and wayfinding experiences.
  • Retail: Intelligent customer service that improves customer satisfaction, connected to databases of potential troubleshooting answers and recommendations.
  • Banking: Realtime financial advice, helping individuals and organizations made informed spending decisions.
  • Marketing: Automated generation of new graphics, artwork, and document designs using DALL E 2.

While today's AI is still prone to mistakes and programming biases - the promised goal of the technology aiding us to be more connected and productive is within sight. This will be an interesting, and albeit important sector of technology to pay attention to in the coming year. There is no doubt that AI will change how we work and how we interact with massive amounts of data, even in the small business sector.

Contact Clear Concepts today, to begin your AI journey!