I recently heard a wonderful quote from a presenter at an AI conference. It essentially said – “Whatever disruption you can imagine AI will create, is nothing compared to what you cannot imagine”. This article explores this insight and what, as a business, you can do to benefit, or at least not suffer, from this likely scenario.
Let’s examine what other fundamental business models have been created through technology. Twenty years ago, would you have imagined the following?
- You land in a foreign city (or country) in the middle of the night. You walk out of the airport and get into a car you have never seen before, driven by someone you do not know. The driver takes you to an apartment you have never seen before, owned by someone you do not know. You take the key from a box and enter. You stay the night in the apartment.
Twenty years ago this could have easily been a life-threatening proposition. However, between Uber and Airbnb, many of us now do this regularly. We trust the combination of data, analytics, crowdsourced feedback, and AI, that make up these services. We cannot imagine our lives without them.
The same goes for AI. The obvious disruptions are already very serious. Take as an example – what happened to Chegg – whose stock dropped nearly 50% in one day after generative AI’s impact on business was known. This is the case when an AI powered version of a competitive product poses nearly instant and serious threat to an established business by creating an appealing alternative . However, as time goes on – we can expect AI to generate fundamental shifts to underlying business models, in ways that are hard to fathom today.
So – what can you do?
You may ask yourself – what can I do? I don’t even know what these new ideas are that can threaten my business? Here is what I suggest
- Integrate AI into as many of your products as you think reasonable – but to at least some of them. Do not wait for the biggest idea. Invest in small improvements that generate meaningful ROI. Invest time in thinking about how AI can improve your existing products and enable new products. Learn along the way.
- Train your employees on AI. These new business models will come from somewhere. If your employees understand what AI is, and have experience using AI to improve your current products – it is far more likely that these foundational ideas will come from your company.
- Once your employees understand some AI – it will be much easier for them to process the deluge of AI news, new products and technologies that are raining down on us now every day. It will be easier for them to see potentials for your business, instead of being overwhelmed and avoiding it.
AI is not going to go away. My recommendation is to jump in and learn to navigate. It will make it much easier to see new places where you can take your business or, if someone else beats you to it – to be a fast follower.