Enterprise hits and misses - generative AI doesn't replace marketers, copywriters get a cost-cutting AI wake-up call, and software pricing must modernize

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed June 5, 2023
This week - no, generative AI doesn't replace marketers, but as companies look to dump costs, copywriters are (rightly) concerned. Software pricing needs to change - but how? Your whiffs include AI-washing media shenanigans, and a loving farewell to Microsoft Cortana.


Lead story - No, generative AI is not a replacement for marketers - the generative AI hype balloons are everywhere, blocking out what should be an exciting time to improve and rethink.

But as Barb points out in the aptly-titled Why generative AI is not a replacement for marketers...whatever the cost-conscious CEO might think!, it's not just a misunderstanding of the technology. It's the temptation to use AI as a cost-cutting sledgehammer, and worry about the consequences some other day. Barb shares a revealing moment via Lisa Ames of Norwest:

Multiple leaders were coming to Ames to help them understand how to best leverage generative AI ChatGPT (or some other generative AI tool). One portfolio marketing leader even had a request to fire the content team and replace it with generative AI.

Yeah, replace your content team - awesome idea. Well, that is, if you want to publish mediocre copy, spiked with the odd factual error or outright hallucination. What to do? Barb continues:

Her response was to hold a marketing huddle with Barak Turovsky, an AI expert and former Google employee. They brought the community together to discuss generative AI and work to create a "talk track" that would help show the CEO that ChatGPT is not a replacement for marketing people.

Here's the generative AI paradox: once you define the limitations (and, ideally, take the fear-mongering threat of massive job cuts off the table), then the possibilities emerge.

Convincing the CEO of this was only part of the discussions during the huddle. The marketers came with a lot of other questions on how to best take advantage of generative AI and ended up trading ideas and, in some cases, becoming more open to the bigger opportunities it offers.

Ames' team then launched a survey. No surprise: marketers are actively using the tools.

In the Norwest survey, 93% of marketers said they were using generative AI (66% used ChatGPT), with 38% being active users working with AI one to four days a week on average.

This level of adoption is why enterprises must take this seriously. I'll add: a good chunk of this usage is likely "shadow AI," if you will, with individuals using third party LLMs like ChatGPT that may be exposing some of their own internal data (or opening up new copyright issues of many flavors). Clamping those risks down - without losing the spark of experimentation - is the trick here. Then there is the productivity reality check:

As per the survey results, marketers are worried about the accuracy and quality control of AI produced content. So they might save time creating base content they can edit and do more creative work with, but then they have to double-check and make sure that base content is accurate and isn't accidentally sounding a lot like what another competitor says.

When you are compelled to double check a machine's work for accuracy, that machine can't take your job. But it can certainly change it. (For a sharp take on generative AI's open questions, check George's How generative AI is enabling the greatest ever theft/opportunity - delete as applicable).

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Earnings report rundown: macro-economic factors and AI are the big themes.

Top customer use cases of the week:

Jon's grab bag - Phil looks at how Accenture is pressing ahead with skills mapping in Accenture sees enterprise talent moving to a data-driven approach, accelerated by generative AI. George asks: is the construction industry ready to take digital transformation up a notch (or two) in Digital Construction Week – measured progress going digital.

Big oil is getting pretty good at sustainability press releases, but Neil has questions: Big oil in VC funding of GreenTech - positive sign or cynical greenwashing? Finally, Chris looks at AI challenges well beyond AI in: Hands are more critical for robot intelligence than AI, says robotics CEO.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • Do You Need a Graph? - Lora Cecere explains why the relational databases underpinning supply chain management systems are falling short: "The role of batch interfaces takes time. If a company wants a perpetual inventory signal that is current and representative of the network, the unified data model allows roll-up in minutes, not hours. This enables a quick response for Available-to-Promise (ATP) and Allocation based on shortages. Dealing with shortages and improving customer response is top of mind in most organizations."
  • The art of software pricing: Unleashing growth with data-driven insights - Perhaps not as edgy as I would have liked, but McKinsey does a solid job of showing how enterprise software pricing needs to adapt to a more fluid market. Vendors need to figure out the consumption-based side or software pricing and reduce the contract and pricing friction - but somehow still provide customers with a predictable budget. Not easy, but stalling out on this topic will mean lost deals.
  • Ford CMD: The Right Goals Are Set; But Can The Company Execute? - Evangelos Simoudis goes assesses an automotive industry transformation.
  • Nvidia is poised to join $1 trillion club thanks to AI-driven surge - When it comes to providing AI tech infrastructure, Nvidia is clearly in a winning position. But as VentureBeat explains, Nvidia's edge goes further: "While other players offer chips and/or systems, Nvidia has built a strong ecosystem that includes the chips, associated hardware and a full stable of software and development systems that are optimized for their chips and systems."
  • Learning from the Mistakes That Cost CIOs and IT Leaders Their Jobs [Career Advice] - Eric Kimberling penned a couple strong posts on the art/perils of digital transformation last week; I picked this one because of the project stories.
  • An early warning system for novel AI risks - This research document from Google's DeepMind is a useful contribution towards AI risk management, from a tooling angle.
  • AI-washing is taking over humanity - I don't agree with all of this post from HfS Research, but the central argument sets up this week's whiffs section nicely: "Goldman Sachs anticipates 300m full-time jobs exposed to automation, and this message took headline in a recent Forbes article in a similar vein to the BT news mentioned above, with AI also here the culprit at center stage. But in GS’ actual report, the prediction is quickly followed up with: 'Worker displacement from automation has historically been offset by the creation of new jobs.'"

Overworked businessman


Looking forward with anticipation:

I'd say good riddance, but I suspect Microsoft has even more intrusive/annoying/pseudo-adorable helpful virtual assistants in store for us:

And now, for this - hardly the worst "generative AI is going to take your job!" article, but it's the one being tweeted like fresh popcorn:

Even replacing a high-level intern is really a stretch:

I'll give the article this much: it calls attention to a concerning aspect of this - cost-cutting run amok. Employers that are happy with an apparent tradeoff between cost-cutting and substandard/error prone copywriting are now weaponized for job layoffs:

Hmm... I think we've come full circle. See you next time.

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed.

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