Describing artificial intelligence as a disruptive technology is a colossal understatement. We are entering an AI boom, with AI-ification happening across industries globally. The big players are all getting involved, many have played their hand and the others are still working away behind the scenes. Dropbox just laid off 500 people to focus on AI, Apple is reportedly about to launch something. It’s all kicking off.
Businesses are facing an adapt or die dilemma, some for the second time in three years.
What’s happening right now has a similar theme to Covid-19, where businesses were forced to make better use of technology to stay afloat during a few years of lockdowns and restricted travel. To thrive in that crisis, you had to think smart, lest you fell behind or became irrelevant.
Why businesses must act on artificial intelligence
Adapting during 2020 came out of necessity. Doing so meant escaping obsolescence. Now it’s not quite the same, or is it? Bill Gates famously called artificial intelligence the next big revolution, and he thinks AI will teach children to read and write within the next 18 months. There’s no doubt that AI is creating new opportunities, but is it removing them for those who don’t act?
Like with those technologies of the past that completely changed the playing field, sceptics will need to quickly change their views. Maybe you think your business or industry won’t be affected. Maybe you think this fad will simply pass by, like affiliate marketing or crypto. Maybe you think AI advancements are nothing but science fiction, and it’ll be another century before any of this really takes hold.
If you’re in the camp of ignorance or denial, you need to revisit your views and understanding of AI. If you’re still unclear on the power of ChatGPT 4, created by OpenAI and just one of the AI tools being used by entrepreneurs who want to get ahead, watch OpenAI cofounder Greg Brockman’s TED talk on just what their technology can do.
If you’re struggling to see how artificial intelligence will change your business, you need to think more creatively about how your competitors, new entrants to your field, or even your customers will replace part or all of your services in the future. Here are three things to do ensure you adapt rather than die.
1. Do more research about AI
Start from the bottom with a beginner’s mind and find out the state of AI in your industry. What are people using it for, how and why? These people won’t be discussing it on LinkedIn or presenting on stage, they’ll be gathering tips in forums and chatting with friends. They’ll be building prototypes, running experiments and taking new opportunities to become AI entrepreneurs. The AI entrepreneurs who emerge in your industry will be the winners who take all.
As an established business, you hold advantages over new players in the industry, but only for so long. If someone offers a product nearly as good as yours for a fraction of the price, you’re fighting a losing battle. With sufficient research, you’re able to see what some of the smartest minds in the world are thinking about. Use this to figure out how you combat potential competitors and see where you could invest in AI yourself.
2. Go back to first principles
To imagine the role of artificial intelligence in your business, go back to basics with how it operates. Answer the simple question: what is your business here to do? What is the true value it delivers for customers? Why does your business even exist? Go deeper and keep going until you’re at the simplest explanation, likely in the format, “I create [outcome] for [audience].”
Now, your job is to figure out how to achieve the same outcome, for the same people, but in the most effective way possible, using every tool available. Armed with your first principles, which will remain largely unchanged through the AI revolution, you can reimagine how you operate and deliver value. Can you deliver the same result but faster or cheaper by integrating AI? Can you deliver a better product or service using the power of AI? Find the value and pass it onto your customers.
3. Start integrating AI into your processes
One option is to go all in with artificial intelligence, another is to take baby steps. While letting others take the risks and seeing where you land might work, you will still want to get involved on some level. This means that even if you’re not about to launch a bunch of tools and use AI to completely revolutionize your business, you should think about how existing tools can help you create more output. While you don’t have to overhaul everything immediately, you should become familiar with the scope of AI, and experiment with it within your business.
Ignoring this will mean you become an observer and then a user, not a creator and a leader. No one else is going to incorporate AI into your business for you. They’ll simply see you as a potential future client of theirs. If a tiger began to chase you, would you rather already be running away, or standing still, waiting for it to get close? A little experience and understanding gives you huge advantages over those who are burying their heads in the sand, not even trying to understand how it works or how they can use it.
This revolution is not going away. Similar to the essential pivoting that took place during 2020, entrepreneurs cannot ignore what artificial intelligence is going to do to businesses. Do you want to do what everyone else is doing; reading the news and observing the hype, or do you want to make your mark and reap the benefits that the first movers are already seeing? Before you declare it’s not for you and turn a blind eye, do some research, go back to first principles, and look to see where you can integrate the technology.