What is the potential impact of AI applications for business on team structures? Should businesses be hiring more people, or relying on tech to replace or augment their existing teams?
James welcomes back ex-banker turned people-and-systems fixer Lloyd Thompson to help him explore these topics.
Together, they’ll look at AI and business strategy.
They’ll talk about the benefits of AI in digital marketing.
And our experts will share their recommendations for how to get started with AI.
Table of contents
1. Why you need to get on board
2. What Lloyd does for a living
3. Will some roles need to go?
4. What you really need to know now…
5. Why humans are still essential
6. A measure of AI’s significance
7. How important is it to adopt AI?
8. Can you trust the data source?
9. If you want to get started…
10. For the uncertain team member
11. The role of customization
12. Learning the tools but playing it cautious
13. The trend James is seeing
Why you need to get on board
Lloyd believes AI in everyday applications is the next big revolution in technology, on a par with the Industrial Revolution or the rise of the internet. He says, in fact, that businesses not taking advantage of AI and automation might be likened to the Luddites, a group known historically for resisting the advancement of technology.
AI’s potential is huge, says Lloyd, particularly in content creation and graphics generation. A combination of ChatGPT and SlidesAI, for example, can produce a presentation on an entire book, complete with visuals, and use AI-generated voice to read it out.
The current AI trend reminds James of the internet’s early days. And as with the internet, he sees imminent mass adoption of the tech.
What Lloyd does for a living
What does Lloyd do and what kind of perspective does it give him on AI in business?
Lloyd’s business, VirtualDOO, helps busy online entrepreneurs by providing a fractional Director of Operations on a month-to-month subscription basis. This professional manages the team, oversees projects, and drives process improvements, freeing up the business owner to focus on strategy, relationships, and business development.
Lloyd sees the potential for AI application across various business areas, however, and not just operations. He believes that areas like sales, marketing, and finance could all benefit from AI and automation, to enhance productivity and streamline processes.
Ai is something for everybody in the business, he says.
Will some roles need to go?
What if those somebodies don’t actually need to be there, James proposes? What if, say, you could do away with an entire department and need just an operator who can run a piece of software?
It’s already been suggested in previous episodes that integrating AI into businesses might lead to some roles becoming redundant, especially in areas such as data entry or generic content creation.
James points out, however, this shift presents opportunities at the same time for professionals skilled in content creation, marketing, coaching, or graphics design. He stresses that a high-level, strategic awareness of this is important, as opting to use a particular AI tool or process could redefine roles within an organization.
What you really need to know now…
Technology has a trickling effect, where high-end advancements eventually reach everyday users. In view of this, Lloyd stresses the importance of learning AI skills in the current context.
With AI and automation likely to replace many jobs, Lloyd sees those equipped with AI skills replacing those without. He urges team members to acquire these skills, and founders to stay aware of the capabilities of AI.
However, Lloyd also cautions that AI is not infallible. The quality of its output depends on the quality of input – “Garbage in, garbage out”.
Instances of AI mishaps – a fatality with a Tesla car, and Amazon’s male-only recruitment results – underscore the need to validate AI processes and outputs.
Why humans are still essential
James believes in the indispensable role of humans, despite the spread of AI technologies. While AI is advancing rapidly, human expertise, emotional intelligence, and experience are crucial aspects that cannot be entirely replicated by machines.
He and Lloyd also agree on the growing value of the human touch, particularly in fields like customer service and content creation. This is even as AI tools are integrated into these processes to handle basic tasks.
And while AI might replace many jobs, it could also generate new roles, ‘prompt engineer’ for instance.
That said, like most technologies AI has dual potential – it could be a force for good, aiding in fields like medicine and solving global issues, but it could also be misused for harmful purposes like hacking and military operations.
A measure of AI’s significance
James underlines the significance of AI by observing that even people outside of tech are discussing ChatGPT, in casual settings. This reflects, he says, a major shift in market acceptance and awareness.
This also speaks to the pervasiveness of AI technologies, as they have started to impact sectors like the teaching and recruitment industries.
And the evolution of AI platforms is fast, says James. ChatGPT4 has some substantial improvements over ChatGPT.
James predicts the influence and integration of AI will happen faster than we anticipate. And in episodes like this, he and his guest have a duty to represent these trends accurately, for the benefit of their audience.
How important is it to adopt AI?
On a scale of one to 10, asks James, how important does Lloyd find the adoption of AI?
Lloyd puts it close to an eight, 10 being critical.
Lloyd shares the case of a client – using AI and automation, they were able to streamline a high-value audit process from 50 steps down to a few, dramatically boosting speed, efficiency and the scale of the business.
Both James And Lloyd see the need to adapt and innovate with AI and automation to stay ahead in the market, or risk being left behind. Things are moving quickly, they warn, making integration of AI a vital business move.
Can you trust the data source?
It’s been established AI does great things. It’s crucial, however, to vet data before trusting its validity – unverified AI data can lead to inaccuracies and misconceptions.
Checking the info, say James And Lloyd, involves calibrating, validating, and reporting on it to ensure its accuracy. They also note the need to track changes and trends in the data, to prevent it becoming inaccurate over time.
It’s important as well to have someone accountable for the data used by AI tools, ensuring its accuracy, proper storage, and security.
If you want to get started…
In case all this sounds complicated, Lloyd advises starting with simple applications of AI technology – say, using ChatGPT to answer queries instead of Google.
James suggests installing ChatGPT on your phone, using it regularly to become familiar with what it can do.
They also touch on the iterative nature of AI like ChatGPT, that lets it refine and modify results based on user feedback. They recommend using the technology to manage separate client portfolios – this allows the tool to progressively develop more accurate and in-depth responses as it gets more conditioned to a particular subject or client.
For the uncertain team member
As a new and perhaps unfamiliar entity, AI might pose some uncertainty for team members.
Lloyd says it’s important to reassure and support team members who may be anxious about integrating AI into their work. He suggests starting with the why, explaining how the tool gives a competitive edge, equips them with new skills, and enhances their job roles.
By being an example and showcasing the value of AI in various tasks, leaders can demonstrate the practical benefits of these technologies to the team.
Lloyd is also for creating a supportive environment where team members can learn and share their experiences with AI, maybe a dedicated channel on a platform like Slack, just for AI discussions.
He cautions against saying “people with AI will replace people without AI”. Focus instead, he says, on the advantage that AI offers.
It’s important, says James, to recognize the rapidly changing hiring landscape and prepare the team accordingly.
The role of customization
How important is it, asks James, to customize AI for our specific business needs?
This applies to software solutions in general, says Lloyd.
While customizing a solution can enhance efficiency and flexibility, he says, it also requires increased support and specialized skills. Therefore, the need for customization should be balanced against these considerations.
Lloyd gives the example of an onboarding process involving a service agreement, payment, and meeting scheduling, where using a platform with all that built in might be more efficient than creating a tailored solution.
A tailored approach is suitable for unique scenarios or when creating a product for sale, such as Software as a Service (SaaS). The more a solution is tailored, the more support it will require, which can increase costs.
Lloyd and James mention the benefit of building enhancements into a single version of a product, ensuring all customers benefit from these improvements. This approach minimizes the need for individualized support and keeps the product streamlined for all users.
Learning the tools but playing it cautious
The AI software market is a volatile one, James has observed, with many new companies emerging and disappearing quickly. James has his team practice caution – they avoid annual tool subscriptions in favor of monthly payments.
James believes in the next year or two, the AI market will stabilize, with established players offering reliable and supported tools.
James And Lloyd agree that businesses should stick with well-established platforms that have wide support and a large user base.
Although AI will inevitably change the dynamics of teams and hiring, our experts say a strong human aspect is vital, especially in customer support. AI should be utilized to perform repetitive tasks, freeing up the human team for work that requires genuine human interaction and support.
The trend James is seeing
James notes a growing trend among his peers, moving away from large team structures and high revenues towards maintaining smaller, more manageable operations. This shift supports the idea of “nano products” and emphasizes the value of a smaller, happier team.
He likewise sees an increasing focus on lifestyle business and lifestyle design, which puts personal satisfaction and wellbeing over raw profit. This shift is supported by the intelligent use of AI tools that can run smoothly and efficiently even with a smaller team.
To wrap up the episode, Lloyd encourages listeners to start exploring AI and automation, particularly with ChatGPT – start small and scale gradually.
If you need help with systems and people in your business, look up Lloyd at VirtualDOO.com.
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