Thanks to the progress made in a special branch of AI called “Generative AI”, people from other professions and industries are recounting similar stories.
Even after spending 10 years in building tools for the Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry, I was blown away when I first tried the ChatGPT last November. The chatbot was way more effective in producing useful and accurate content than I thought was possible with the state of available technology.
Some of the customers in the company where I previously worked were world-leading makers of self-driving cars. Therefore, I had a first-hand experience of how AI was making remarkable achievements. However, I had not imagined a machine capable of engaging in natural conversations with humans at such a high level of fluency.
As a product management leader, I spend a significant amount of time exploring new technologies to see how we can use them to solve problems for our customers. This involves making detailed artifacts about customers’ goals and problems. I team up with experts from fields like engineering, design, data, marketing, and sales to think up new solutions. When we agree on a solution, software engineers write code to make it into working software.
Each of these tasks requires “high-order” cognitive abilities that are only possible with human intelligence. Very little of this has been historically automated.
However, I found that ChatGPT could do many of these tasks with the speed of lightning if only you provided the right prompts. Sure, it doesn’t always get it right. I have to spend time refining and adjusting the results to make them usable. But it has since made me 10 times more productive at my job.
A product feature that took three months to build for 10 individuals can now potentially be built in three weeks by two people. It’s that effective.
And I am not the only one who was caught off guard.
Thanks to the progress made in a special branch of AI called “Generative AI”, people from other professions and industries are recounting similar stories. AI has taken the world by storm.
Marketers are now able to create more interesting copies, operation managers can detect defects and anomalies fasters, HR professionals can hire the right candidate more efficiently, legal teams can draft and review contracts faster, and software developers can accelerate development.
Likewise, moviemakers can create more intriguing plots, pharmaceutical companies can discover new drugs faster, and the list goes on.
Very soon, we’ll reach a point where the people who use AI effectively will easily outperform people who don’t. Likewise, companies that use AI more intelligently will be able to solve problems faster, create more innovative products, serve customers better, and compete more effectively.
Those who rest on their laurels and don’t up-skill themselves will be left behind. Just like the companies who couldn’t adopt computers, the internet, and mobile in the last 10 years.
As you can imagine, there are tons of opportunity for Nepal as well.
Just because we don’t lead in AI in terms of research and development doesn’t mean we cannot benefit from AI. A good start is to begin adopting AI tools and technologies.
At an organizational level, AI can help financial institutes like banks provide personalized customer support or disburse loans more efficiently. It can help e-commerce companies understand what kind of products customers are likely to buy. Travel companies can use AI to create interesting travel packages. AI can help agriculture farms figure out what mix of crops should they grow for given soil and weather to maximize the yield. Hotels can use AI to understand what guests are saying about their service on social media platforms or review sites and use the data to improve their service.
Likewise, at an individual level, the people working in Nepali firms can adopt AI to be more competitive. For example, an HR professional can create more effective interview questions to assess candidates. The folks working for an advertising agency can use tools like Midjourney to produce creative ads. The people working for big stores like Bhatbhateni Supermarket can use AI to design more effective campaigns or shelve their stock with products that are actually popular.
In general, AI will allow companies to create more interesting products and services at a lower cost. There are tools available that can be used by professionals in all kinds of functions in diverse industries. And often using those tools is just as simple as typing in the right URL in their browser.
Yet, the adoption is going to be neither easy nor swift.
Nepal has been historically behind in terms of the successful adoption of technologies.
I recently visited the website of a reputable bank in Nepal that claimed that it uses “AI”. When I tried to contact their support staff via live chat to solve an issue I was having with my card, nobody responded. Most likely, they had embedded the live chat in the website but hadn’t connected it to their support workflows.
Buying and installing software is not the same thing as adopting it. Adopting technology requires an organization to change its way of working as well. You can say a particular piece of technology is adopted when the efficiency gains can be clearly measured.
Most businesses still don’t have a proper website. Or if they do have a website, it doesn’t really give any valuable information or support to the customers.
I still see many companies that require job applicants to send physical resumes.
Every time I use Nepal Telecom’s app to buy a data package, I continue to be bewildered by the confusing array of data packages. It’s still not able to make my job easier by recommending the package that works the best for me based on my usage pattern.
To cut a long story short, we are still behind in the adoption of digital technologies, internet capabilities, and mobile services.
But I also think there is an opportunity to start fresh with AI.
All businesses, including those in developed countries, are still trying to figure out how to use AI effectively. ChatGPT or LLMs captured mass attention only six months ago. We are not 10 or 20 years behind the rest of the world. If we start now, we are starting at the same time as everyone else.
Thanks to the rise of cloud computing, AI is becoming more and more accessible and affordable. It doesn’t cost millions of dollars to start using it. You can start small and then scale as you become more comfortable with using AI.
There are tons of resources online that give people insights about how to start using AI. You just need to take out time to spend learning and experimenting. The bigger challenge isn’t whether we have access to the knowledge and resources. The bigger challenge is if we have the time and commitment to adopt a new way of doing things. Those who can cross this chasm will win. Those who choose to wait and watch will be left behind.
Kailash Badu is the Vice President of Product at Genese Solutions. Previously, he was Director of Product at CloudFactory. He can be reached at email@example.com.