January 26, 2023
Industry Insight
David Angus

ChatGPT: Does Human Capital Still Matter?

Disclaimer: this was fully written by a human, so please excuse any errors, omissions or jarring turn of phrase throughout.

Since the inception of ChatGPT, there has been a mad scramble to learn more about the capabilities of this generative AI platform. As it rapidly moves through the adoption curve and platform capacity becomes limited, it is clear that the forecasted ‘game changer’ status is very likely to emerge.

Why is ChatGPT such a game-changer?

The game-changing aspect of a platform such as ChatGPT is the ability to deep learn from unstructured topics and data and exhibit creativity. This is no longer just an efficiency driver, but a perceived value add in its own right. The scenarios in which a platform such as ChatGPT can be used and scaled across a business are evidently limitless. Marketing, sales, HR, R&D, IT could all benefit by adding a technology layer to their operations. 

The phrase ‘digital transformation’ was coined to include the scenario above (not just a cheap way to sell a new website build…), as well as creating a technical infrastructure for businesses to thrive for more effective and efficient business processes. Thus, assistive AI technology is just the next part of the story. Alongside this tale as old as time, we have the anxiety and fear that new discoveries cause.

The perceived threat from ChatGPT

Quite quickly after the cacophony of ChatGPT admiration posts littered newsfeeds on LinkedIn, the ones about the moral and ethical implications of assistive AI began.

The age-old argument from technology ‘stealing our jobs’, to cheating in the academic environment, through to reported paranoia being witnessed among Google’s executive team has emerged. There will always be winners and losers from any major market shift, but the reality of the situation is that businesses and brands should (and will) adapt. Early mover advantage will be eroded, duplicity extinguished and the competitive differential gap closed.

The reality is, there are as many opportunities for businesses and humans to thrive as there are threats to human progress at times of such apparent transformation.

How to avoid a race to the bottom

Technology has been streamlining processes since the days of the industrial revolution. Add to that digitisation and automation, and the debate on the potential impact this has had on human productivity and capabilities is nothing new.

The big questions should not be about how technology is replacing human jobs, but how it can create time and space for humans to be more creative, efficient and productive.

Additionally, we should not see technology as the silver bullet to success. There are many scenarios where technology is not being used effectively, efficiently or to the detriment of service:

  • The brand is only using 5% of the power of certain technology
  • The technology being used ‘is like a sledgehammer to crack a nut’ (a phrase that was used in a recent consultation)
  • Technology is causing laziness. One of our forecasted fears is that mass adoption of AI will lead to vanilla comms, which inhibits differentiation and distinctiveness

If you can get yourself out of the silver bullet mindset and think of technology as an enabler, you suddenly open up the possibility of getting significantly more out of the people within the business.

The importance of human capital

Forward-thinking brands and businesses do not substitute their human capital with technology but embed technology into a business to make work more efficient. These are two different pillars of business, just as Data or Marketing should be seen as standalone pillars that work together to create a better business model. 

The challenge is in unlocking human potential. This means that technology needs to be understood and used effectively. This makes the choice of technology platforms even more imperative. Technology can soon become a time drain if misaligned and can quickly be perceived as unwieldy and unruly.

With the right technology and people fit, you quickly can add value to your offering.

Using technology to make roles cost positive

There has recently been a lot of literature about turning cost negative into cost-positive roles within businesses. This is where embedding the right technology really shines. By taking care of the tasks that are taking significant human resources, you soon unlock a greater focus on strategic and value-added thinking. Who benefits from this? The end customer.

Take back-office roles for example. Consider the amount of time staff spend on administration tasks, such as HR policy or contracts. How much of this time can be saved by generative AI and technology? The time saved now allows the team to look forward and forecast, rather than be stuck in the drudgery of day-to-day administrative tasks.

How about marketing? Instead of time compiling endless reporting or manually running data exercises, how about making time and space to think critically about the opportunities the data is telling you? This allows for a more creative and resonant marketing strategy. 

So what does this mean for consultancies and agencies? We have commented before on the apparent shift of value perception amongst brand partners and agencies. With a desire towards an in-housing model or a hybrid of in-housing and senior partners, brands are looking for human innovation and creativity from agency partners. With some forms of agency work becoming rapidly commoditised, the integration of the right technology into a business opens up the value of human innovation.

This also opens up something that we all seek - actual distinctiveness and differentiation. ChatGPT and broadly, technology will not give you this but will enable the people in your organisation that can.

Power to the people is what I say.

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