Almost Timely News, May 19, 2024: 🗞️ Are You Falling Behind on Generative AI?

Almost Timely News: 🗞️ Are You Falling Behind on Generative AI? (2024-05-19) :: View in Browser

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Almost Timely News: 🗞️ Are You Falling Behind on Generative AI? (2024-05-19)

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What’s On My Mind: Are You Falling Behind on Generative AI?

This past week, I had the pleasure and privilege to be a keynote speaker at the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Food & Grocery Australia conference in Melbourne. If there was one refrain I heard more than any other, it was the worry about falling behind, something that Katie also talked about in this week’s INBOX Insights newsletter.

A few of the ways this manifested at the event:

  • One speaker said, “America moves ahead boldly, sometimes even recklessly when it comes to new technology. Australia by comparison tends to be much more conservative, and we risk being left behind when it comes to AI.”
  • One participant tearfully expressed a deep concern they were falling behind and they would have no future career.
  • An executive said, “We fell behind on social media and mobile marketing. We can’t afford to fall behind on AI.”

Which raises the difficult and important question: are you falling behind? What does that mean?

To each person, falling behind means something different, but the general top-level concept is that something is moving and you’re not moving fast enough to keep up with it. You’re chasing something, and it’s moving farther away from you, and the fear is you get left behind in the dust as the world moves on. In the context of AI – especially generative AI – that means keeping up with what the technology can do and deploying it in ways that keep you current.

But that still isn’t really tangible or concrete, so let’s break it down further, into the personal, organizational, and national.

At a personal level, why would someone be afraid of falling behind? That’s fairly straightforward: other people can take opportunities away from you. As noted in the 2024 Work Trends Index, Microsoft and LinkedIn pointed out that 66% of corporate leaders say they wouldn’t hire someone without AI skills, and that they’d choose a less senior person with AI skills over a more senior person without AI skills.

And it’s not just hiring; the very real fears and concerns about falling behind also show up in worries about relevance in the workplace. If you fall behind, your career won’t advance as quickly as others. Your earnings potential may diminish, compared to others who use tools like AI to be more productive and capable.

In addition to the tangible, financial fears, part of the fear of falling behind is a loss of control, a loss of agency. When you’re behind, you have less control over your life, your career, your choices. And if a machine consumes a significant portion of your tasks, you may begin to question what value you bring at all.

A fourth and final part of falling behind fears at the personal level is the general feeling of inadequacy every day as the news hammers you about how fast AI is moving. New models! New architectures! New features! New capabilities! It’s a very breathless pace that can feel incredibly overwhelming, especially if you are comparing yourself and your knowledge to others.

At an organizational level, fears of falling behind manifest in worries about competition. If your company falls behind, you produce less. You get less done. You aren’t as productive, agile, or fast as a competitor is, in every business function.

The smarter, faster, more productive company typically ends up with more market share, more customers, bigger margins, and higher profits. That’s why the C-Suite is so unsettled by generative AI; it’s a highly disruptive technology that could allow a smaller competitor to punch far above their weight, seizing market share from the incumbents.

There was a great quote in the Hollywood Reporter the other day about the covert use of AI in entertainment, from David Defendi:

“Producers, writers, everyone is using AI, but they are scared to admit it publicly,” agrees David Defendi, a French screenwriter and founder of Genario, a bespoke AI software system designed for film and television writers. “But it’s being used because it is a tool that gives an advantage. If you don’t use it, you’ll be at a disadvantage to those who are using AI.”

Those fears about decreased productivity, about competitive disadvantage – those are real fears.

And at a national level, the worry about falling behind is about losing a competitive edge against other nations. Losing companies, losing talent, losing prestige… the list is endless. Part of the reason Mistral is so prominent is because France specifically and the EU generally is deeply concerned about a tech oligopoly (again) in Silicon Valley.

The fears of falling behind are fundamentally rooted in a fear of loss, and each of the fears is like a fractal, the same pattern repeated over and over again, from the very small to the very large. The fear of competition occurs at the individual level, worried about employment prospects, to the national level, worried about losing market share to a more agile international competitor.

When you face a fear, there are generally three categories of responses – you face the fear head on, you remain paralyzed in place, or you run away. Each solution has a time and place when it’s appropriate.

Here’s the thing: all these fears are valid, and we all share them.

You might scoff at that statement. There’s no way I have those fears, right? I’m elbows deep in AI all day, every day. How could I possibly feel like I’m falling behind? Because when I read new technical papers, see new sample code on GitHub, etc., I absolutely do feel behind in those areas. Am I actually? It depends – but there’s a tsunami of new stuff every single day, much of which is exceptionally promising, and it’s hard to keep up with it all.

So what do you do?

Well, first you have to figure out what behind means. Do you feel behind because there’s a lot of general conversation on the topic and the buzz makes you think something really important is happening? Or do you have more focused examples of shifts in your business and your industry, actual data that could hint you are behind or are about to be?

Are you behind on something that doesn’t matter? For a couple of years, people asked me why I was behind on crypto and Web3, how it was the hottest thing and I wasn’t talking about it at all. I was 100% way behind, because that wasn’t a direction I was planning to go. Being behind is irrelevant if where things are going is the wrong direction.

Ok, so let’s say you have some valid, specific use cases where yeah, you’re behind. How do you catch up? First, it helps to understand the specific problem you’re trying to solve. The Trust Insights TRIPS framework for generative AI is a great place to start. It’s free to download, no forms to fill out, no information to give.

Once you’ve established the use case, you apply the Trust Insights 5P Framework to the use case. You know what the purpose is. Hopefully you have some kind of performance, some kind of outcome. Then you figure out the people, process, and platform necessary to accomplish the thing.

Here’s an example. At breakfast the second morning of FGA, a sales representative said she was unsure how to make all the different ideas from the event gel together into something coherent, something tangible that she could take back to her team and do something with. I asked her – let’s go with Cara, since FGA operates under Chatham House Rules for the most part – what she was trying to accomplish, and she said that her job was all about getting her company’s products and services to be sold by a specific market segment, but it was getting harder to have their message resonate in the face of rampant inflation. She felt like generative AI was going to make it even harder for her to keep up and compete against bigger players in the market.

I said great, that’s a good place to start. Sales messaging is a solid use case for generative AI. There’s a clear purpose. There’s a clear measure of performance. We know who the people are – people like Cara, and we have a general sense of their sales process. All we needed to do was take those components plus a language model platform and start putting the puzzle together.

Part of the sales process for Cara is identifying the reasons someone would buy from her company versus a larger competitor. Their value proposition was about buying local and supporting the Australian economy. Conveniently, the previous night, the Australian Federal Government had released their next fiscal year budget, which is a whopping 400,000 words spread out over 5 different budget documents. Well, 400,000 words is manageable in today’s large language models, so I dumped in the budget and then said, what kind of ordered effects will this have on the consumer? What sorts of investments was Australian making in domestic companies? How would it impact the industry? We got a nice analysis of what the budget would do for consumers as well as Cara’s clients.

From there, I had the language model recall what it knew about Cara’s company and some of her clients, and we had a solid ICP2 profile built. (ICP2 = ideal customer profile + company profile) With that knowledge, I directed the language model to build a sales presentation for one of Cara’s customers, using all the ordered effects of the new budget, emphasizing not only her customer’s pain points but the consumer’s pain points, then took the sales outline and put it through Tamsen Webster’s Red Thread framework.

What we ended up with was a very solid, thorough, timely, and relevant presentation outline that she could go give tomorrow to any of her customers and stand a good chance of persuading them that not only did she understand their issues, but her company’s products and solutions would be a good fit.

The time this took? Under 25 minutes, and that was mostly because I was eating at the same time.

Why did this work? Cara was clear about her purpose and her performance, the outcome she needed. Was she behind on the platform? Yes. But she wasn’t behind on her sales skills, her knowledge of the customer and their customers, and the process by which they made decisions – and that’s the key to catching up quickly. The technology is changing very fast, but if you are clear on every other part of the 5P framework, slotting in the technology is relatively straightforward. Getting all the other pieces is much harder – and if you’re behind on those, it’s much more work to catch up.

So, are you behind? If you are unclear on more than one of the 5Ps, then yes, you are behind. Get clear on everything else besides the technology; you can get help with that – even from the technology itself. You could literally ask one of today’s modern large language models what platform to use based on all the other requirements of the 5Ps and you’d get some solid answers.

Fight, freeze, or flight – those are the choices you have when dealing with fears. In the context of generative AI, that means you dig in, you do nothing, or you run away from the technology. I would suggest that digging in is the best general course of action here, with the acknowledgement that overcoming fear can be an incredibly daunting task. But once you have the emotional willingness to dig in, you have a pathway forward for the rest.

As always, shameless plug, if you want help with building your generative AI systems and processes like I did with Cara, this is literally what my company does, so if getting started with this use of generative AI is of interest, hit me up.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the newly updated Generative AI for Marketers course I’m relentlessly flogging, this week I did my lukewarm take on a lot of the announcements from Google IO over on YouTube.

Skill Up With Classes

These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.



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If you work at a company or organization that wants to do bulk licensing, let me know!

Get Back to Work

Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.

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How to Stay in Touch

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Events I’ll Be At

Here are the public events where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:

  • Society for Marketing Professional Services, Los Angeles, May 2024
  • MAICON, Cleveland, September 2024
  • Traceone User Conference, Miami, September 2024
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Boston, November 2024

There are also private events that aren’t open to the public.

If you’re an event organizer, let me help your event shine. Visit my speaking page for more details.

Can’t be at an event? Stop by my private Slack group instead, Analytics for Marketers.

Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn

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2 responses to “Almost Timely News, May 19, 2024: 🗞️ Are You Falling Behind on Generative AI?”

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