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Prof. Yudhvir Seetharam | The benefits, and potential difficulties, of ChatGPT as a business tool

Prof. Yudhvir Seetharam | The benefits, and potential difficulties, of ChatGPT as a business tool
04-04-23 / Professor Yudhvir Seetharam

Prof. Yudhvir Seetharam | The benefits, and potential difficulties, of ChatGPT as a business tool

While ChatGPT has created something of an Artificial Intelligence storm in recent months, AI is anything but a new concept. In fact, businesses have been using it, to a greater or lesser degree, for decades now, whether to automate basic processes, analyse datasets, or deliver digital customer support.

What ChatGPT has done, however, is raise awareness of the potential that AI has to add significant value to businesses of all shapes and sizes. As an AI language model trained to understand and respond to human language, ChatGPT has itself become a popular way for many businesses and employees to save time and improve efficiencies. However, while there are many benefits to using ChatGPT, there are also a number of limitations, even risks, that businesses should keep in mind in order to ensure that they are indeed making the most of this exceptional technology.

The first, and arguably most valuable, of these benefits is the opportunity that ChatGPT presents for businesses to save time when gathering knowledge or doing research. Instead of spending hours scouring the internet or consulting with expensive experts, businesses now have the option to simply ask ChatGPT for information on a particular topic, and receive a response in a matter of seconds. This can be particularly helpful for small businesses or start-ups that may not have the financial or human resources at their disposal to conduct extensive research on their own. It can be a quick, cheap, and useful way to conduct market research, identify trends, and gather insights into customer behaviours.

However, it's important to be aware of the fact that the information ChatGPT is able to provide is highly contextual. While ChatGPT can quickly identify trends and patterns, it is unlikely to be able to provide the same level of analysis as a human researcher. Therefore, businesses must balance the benefits of speed and efficiency with the need for accuracy and depth of analysis. For example, if a business asks ChatGPT "What is the best way to win customers in LSM 4 to LSM 6 income categories?” the response they will receive is likely to be very generic and not add significant value, or provide any real strategic insights that they don’t already have. The reason is simply that ChatGPT does not know any of the finer nuances about the business, or the geographic and demographic factors that may influence its marketing efforts. So, the response, while probably fairly accurate, will likely be far too broad to be useful.

The second benefit of ChatGPT is that it can help businesses improve efficiency by automating certain tasks. For example, ChatGPT may be useful in generating generic content for social media or marketing campaigns, thereby saving businesses time and resources. However, this content is once again going to be fairly generic and may not capture the finer marketing requirements of the business. It is unlikely to be aligned with a business's brand or messaging and it may not always be able to capture the subtleties of the brand voice. As a result, businesses need to be careful when using ChatGPT to generate content and ensure that it aligns with their overall branding and messaging strategy.

The third business benefit of ChatGPT – and possibly the one that has the potential to be of highest value - is that the AI platform can serve as an objective sounding board for those looking to figure out whether they are asking the right questions about their business. By asking ChatGPT for information on a particular topic, and then critically assessing the responses they receive, businesses can gain valuable insights into whether they are actually asking the right questions or focusing on the right intelligence that will help them grow and prosper. So, for example, when asked the right questions, in the right way, ChatGPT may identify patterns and trends that would not be immediately apparent to human researchers. This can help businesses identify blind spots in their operations or generate new ideas for growth. This feature of ChatGPT can be particularly helpful for businesses that are just starting out, or those that are looking to pivot in a new direction based on market movements or competitor pressure.

Of course, it's important to remember that ChatGPT's insights are only as good as the questions it is being asked. In other words, if a business is asking the wrong questions or focusing on the wrong information, ChatGPT may be unable to provide the insights they need. This means that any business wanting to derive worthwhile benefits from ChatGPT needs to be highly strategic in its use of the platform.

Ultimately, it is imperative that business users of ChatGPT keep in mind that it is a tool, not a solution.

While it can undoubtedly assist with certain tasks, it’s no substitute for human insight and creativity, and it should never be the sole source of business intelligence or market information. So, as fantastic as ChatGPT may seem, an AI language model is not (yet) a substitute for a holistic business approach, built on relevant quantitative and qualitative data, and underpinned by deep experience and an integrated approach to understanding markets and customers.

*Professor Yudhvir Seetharam is Head of Analytics, Insights and Research at FNB Commercial.


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