I don’t usually make predictions. However, there has been such a powerful recent event that I am going out on a limb. If you are a business owner and don’t know about ChatGPT and how it will affect your business, you need to get on it. ChatGPT was released at the end of last year and is a text-based chatbot powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The ChatGPT market disruption is going to change the world and make some companies and industries obsolete. If you don’t believe me, trust that Microsoft is investing $1 billion in the organization and expects it to be a game changer. This is not news that will just impact BigCo or nerds – companies in the lower middle market need to raise their eyebrows, too.
The ChatGPT Market Disruption has already started.
From experience as a business owner myself, I can tell you that you can never take your eye off market research. Some leaders have not done full-scale market research at all. Others have done it as part of a marketing strategy and don’t keep up with it. And still others only keep up with competitive research. None of that is enough in today’s fast-moving technology world – you also need to have your eye on potential disruptions inside and outside of your market.
I still remember the disruptive market shift that occurred when the iPad was released. We had an enterprise software company at the time. Quite quickly, users expected enterprise software to behave like an iPad. It was a fast-occurring shift. We developed a new user interface to counter the tide, but it was impossible to react fast enough. Shortly after, we saw our market competition swell from a handful of providers to more than 250. The market shift brought more competition as new providers sought to offer users with more flexibility. This is an example of how an external threat was realized. We were doing great competitive analysis regularly, but this shift did not come from a competitor, just like what is about to happen with ChatGPT.
Traditional market research includes competitive analysis; brand sentiment; customer decision-making; customer segmentation; market messaging; product pricing, and product development. All companies should know where they stand in relation to their market in these categories. How? By observing customers, conducting surveys, focus groups, and interviews. You should know how your customers buy and what is important in their decision-making process. In most cases, customers have done all their independent research before engaging with you or your sales team. They only engage in the last 20 percent of the buying decision process, so if you haven’t gotten on their radar screen in the first 80 percent, you likely will not be able to at all.
Although the above methods are crucial, leaders must also keep their eye on the world around them. Enter ChatGPT. How do you stay up to date on trends? What sources do you rely on to feed you information that could be useful or harmful to your company? The leader that is in touch with more than your industry will be the one to exploit new technologies rather than be overcome by them.
My husband is writing a science fiction novel. He provided his table of contents to ChatGPT and asked it to explain what had been given. ChatGPT provided back an entirely accurate description of the novel. It was so accurate it could be used as a book sleeve. He also asked it to write software code for him, and it did. He asked it to write a song about a topic, and it did. In each case, every exchange was 100% accurate. Can you say the same for customer interactions with your company? Humans make mistakes but AI, not so much.
On the flip side, for those concerned that AI will take over all jobs, we need to level set. We should be thinking now about how to transition our human resources for the greatest return. AI needs human training and guidance to be utilized correctly. AI can’t replace the human factor and our creative abilities. We will not replace humans with AI anytime soon, but we can make adjustments now to use our human resources more precisely to complement their strengths. AI will reshape many of our processes, for example, in the sales field, but it will not be able to replace the relationship component of sales that humans provide. Let’s remember that targeted data mining has been around for over ten years. We’ve been automating sales processes for over twenty years. Does anyone else remember sales pre-CRM? Automation in the sales process did not replace sales people. We just moved people to perform more valuable activities. AI will automate repetitive and manual tasks to be helpful in the sales process but will not replace humans completely.
ChatGPT will be extremely useful in marketing to conduct surveys and gather feedback. This information can be used to create relevant and engaging content for marketing teams. The speed at which ChatGPT can work and the number of sources it can review are astounding. This will fundamentally change and enhance a marketing team’s precision in developing content.
Every company is different, but a leader with vision thinks in the future, not necessarily today or tomorrow. What do you think ChatGPT would tell you if asked about your company’s future or industry? How will it affect communication with your customers? It is not a coincidence that despite massive amounts of dry powder, venture funding is drying up for companies except in the AI space.
This would be an excellent opportunity to refresh your strategy. Consider how your company will be affected by this technology and others. What do you need to do to embrace it and get ahead of the trend? How will different departments in your company need to restructure? How will customers’ expectations change and how will this affect their buying habits? The sooner you evaluate these and other questions, the better prepared you will be to embrace the change that is undoubtedly coming.