April 3, 2023
CLAREMONT, CA—The key to positive AI integration is to explore opportunities and understand where this technology can best be used, according to The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC). Organizations that start the process now will gain a clear advantage of scale, having had more time to test and augment their AI tools.
AI in Manufacturing Boosted by Rapid Scaling
“Manufacturers must have the capability to scale rapidly. With that, they will keep up with new business opportunities from reshoring, nearshoring, and supply chain transitions,” points out Lisa Anderson, president of Claremont, CA-based LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and manufacturing expert known as the Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain™. “To minimize cost and risk, and increase volume, smart manufacturers will use technology more to automate, predict, and scale with minimal resources.
“Artificial intelligence is already used in forecasting and predictive maintenance,” she adds. “ChatGPT-type functionality takes capabilities a step further by helping to solve operational and technical issues, giving interactive manual and training systems a solid base. It can also analyze manufacturing and supply chain data to make predictions, such as run rates, and recommend the reallocation of capacity among sites. Proactive executives will start piloting these capabilities soon.”
AI Must Overcome Two Big Barriers
“In most companies, getting things done with AI faces two big hurdles: legacy systems and executive inertia,” says Steven Hunt, founder of Steven Hunt & Associates and an expert on managing change in global companies.
“Older companies already use a labyrinth of legacy IT systems or outdated automated processes,” he says. “Plus, executives have spent the best part of three decades outsourcing basic processes, like IT support and helplines, to low-cost countries. Integrating the new with the old, particularly when those processes are spread around the globe, will not be easy.
“AI’s biggest impacts are likely to be felt in integration,” Hunt explains. “Start-ups have an advantage because they start with a clean slate. Older companies are best off focusing on five areas: choosing the right AI tools, taking small steps, testing the outputs, training the AI tool to be better, and integrating this smoothly with those tasks that only humans can do.”
Prompt Engineering Becomes a Key AI Skill
“While still in the early stages of exploration and leverage, expect AI tools and capabilities to evolve rapidly in 2023,” notes Mark Cioni, president of MV Cioni Associates, Inc. “Organizations can best position themselves to exploit these capabilities by starting with augmentation versus replacement, and recognizing that Prompt engineering is a core skill in this domain.
“Near-term implications will include new self-service channels for customers and employees, and tight feedback loops as this technology integrates into business processes,” Cioni adds. “AI also includes full organizational commitment to rapidly exploit emergent opportunities, and to jettison what doesn’t work.”
New AI Tools Will Change the Coaching Process
“Most companies produce abundant content to engage with their customers, including articles, blogs, videos and social media posts. ChatGPT can be leveraged to create engaging content in much less time,” says Dr. Maynard Brusman, a San Francisco Bay Area consulting psychologist and executive coach.
“Executive coaches work with leaders and professionals to help them gain self-awareness, clarify goals, and develop requisite skills and habits. Much of the work involves mindful conversations—asking powerful questions, actively listening, and providing customized feedback and reflections. As ChatGPT gets better at language and conversation, it may take over some aspects of this coaching process.”
Dr. Brusman advises his executive coaching clients, “While AI has slowly developed over the last few decades, its adoption is expected to explode within the next few years. Innovative companies that choose to embrace AI will have a strong strategic advantage.”
The Game Changer for Small Companies
“Advanced technology has been a game changer, especially for smaller companies where employees are wearing several hats,” points out Kathleen McEntee, President of Kathleen McEntee and Associates Ltd, a full-service marketing firm focused on delivering results by distinguishing businesses with straightforward messaging addressed in the right media to the right audiences.
“ChatGPT and other AI options can lend a hand to monotonous, repetitive tasks, to fact finding, and to starting the framework of communications,” she says. “They can free up time for people to do what humans do best—be creative, determine strategy, set direction, evaluate customer demand, develop brands and their personalities, and, ultimately, engage with prospects and customers.”
“It is incredible what this software can do,” McEntee notes. “This will not replace the life, branding, and personality we breathe into an organization. Instead, AI will give us the time to do what we do best: improve the customer experience and increase efficiencies.”
The Definition of AI is a Moving Target
For decades, new technologies have been introduced as being based on “artificial intelligence,” according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic firm marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters.
“It seems that anything that goes above and beyond what we are used to seeing is labeled AI,” she says. But over time, these things become part of our daily life and we no longer find them strange or frightening, she notes.
“Siri and Alexa are AI-based tools, as are the algorithms that make recommendations on Amazon or Netflix. We need to strip away the fear of a supreme artificial intelligence displacing the human race, and focusing instead on where each technology can be put to good use, and where human reasoning and experience cannot be replaced.
“To quote Spiderman, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ We need to be aware of what new AI tools do well and where they can cause serious problems without good management and human intervention.”
AI comes with Advantages and Unfulfilled Desires
“From what I’ve seen thus far and also expect to see, ChatGPT should be used with discretion,” said SAC Founder Alan Weiss, PhD. “It’s probably a huge advantage in creating policies, instructions, and simplifying. But it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of relationships: customer communications, employee interactions, and advertising.”
The Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) is the premier association for independent consulting professionals who subscribe to an industry code of ethics and provide significant consulting results among their clients. Founded by Million Dollar Consulting guru Alan Weiss in 2003, SAC offers a series of in-person and online programs to help consultants share best practices and learn from industry experts and thought leaders in the business world. SAC today has members in 14 countries around the world. For more information, go to https://www.consultingsociety.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (909) 563-1803.