Lead story - the impact of generative AI on content marketing - and enterprise teamwork
Generative AI has limitations, but it's also versatile - provoking necessary evaluation of its viability across the workplace. Phil examined the impact of gen AI on collaboration in How generative AI has changed the face of digital teamwork:
The upside is that adding AI supercharges teamwork, bringing new superpowers to users that help them create new content, find answers faster and collaborate more effectively.
Collaboration vendors have responded quickly:
In the past year, every digital teamwork vendor has added generative AI-based tooling that helps users draft content, summarize information — especially key points from meetings or discussion threads — find answers from content stores and knowledge bases, or prioritize actions.
But is there a downside? Phil:
But there are potential downsides too with generative AI — inaccurate information being surfaced as fact; confidential data being shown to the wrong people; contamination of the dataset by AI-generated content; or failure to train users to properly instruct their AI assistants and vet their answers.
Phil delves into ways to mitigate that - including cleaner/current data (garbage in/garbage out never changes). But it's worth remembering that gen AI doesn't technically understand the context of the data it's surfacing, so even perfect data can yield unsatisfying or problematic answers at times.
Nevertheless, readers might be surprised to read that I'm quite bullish on this area of gen AI. When I talk about AI overreach, a huge factor is the cost of inaccuracies and outliers. I don't see the cost of most digital teamwork AI outliers as being that high. That frees up more aggressive usage. With responsible design, this looks like a use case winner to me.
On the other hand, Barb wrote about Can AI improve content marketing? Well.... Before I go further, I would just like to ask - when was the last time you heard someone say:
Gee, I wish I could read more AI-authored blog posts about my job/role/industry.
Marketers might want to bear that in my mind? Churning out mediocre public-facing content is really for black hat web site shenanigans. On the other hand, when we shift from AI-generated blog posts to a rethink of content production, distribution, and personalization, things get interesting (I generate short video clips from longer videos using an AI service, and I'm quite impressed). Nevertheless, as Barb notes from various reports, marketers are plowing ahead. But what does Barb think?
The only way AI has made me more creative is to show me how not to write like AI and everyone else. It forces me to think about what new or additional angles or ideas I need to add to a bland outline, or piece of content. But do I need AI to help me do that? Not really.
AI can make me more productive because I am not starting from scratch, but it doesn't make me more creative.
Barb is right: the AI productivity conversation is individual. Some folks are simply not natural writers, or they need to write in a language they are not fluent in. I believe them when they say that gen AI gets them going.
But why are we so obsessed with gen AI generating original content, when it truly excels at repurposing high quality, human-generated content in other formats (text to video, white papers to slides, webinars to video highlight reels, product documentation to FAQs, etc)? Not to mention the ability to personalize the social outreach and content distribution? Where is the imaginative content conversation about what AI excels at? Good luck flooding the market with mediocre AI-authored articles while your audience drifts.
Sidenote: anyone in the publishing business (which is most companies), should also check Barb's must-read How SEO is affecting the way we create content, which is really about the area of AEO (Answer Engine Optimization).
diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week
- President Biden hails US progress since signing AI executive order three months ago - Derek updates on the US government's vigorous (or splashy?) AI regulatory moves, but it's not yet clear how this will impact the big AI giants inside US borders.
- An avalanche of mixed news re: HR – the month that was - Brian revamped his month-in-review format to bear down on HR executives' January (mis)adventures, with RTO (return to office) policies on the front burner: "Empathic leadership was not in attendance and neither was great thinking on the part of these same executives." (Ouch!)
- PTSB, Ireland’s oldest retail bank, combines EX and CX to ensure ‘consistency of behavior’ - refreshing to see a use case where EX and CX are part of the same implementation, instead of EX being an afterthought (by Gary).
- Why diversity in STEM is critical for success – and especially for research - Chris filed a notable series on STEM, via new reporting data - and a Westminster STEM forum. Also see: Chris' Improving diversity in STEM and tech means finding new role models, says forum.
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- Microsoft cloud revenue rises, but Google Cloud reports stronger year-on-year growth rate - Stuart on the latest cloud infrastructure numbers. In sum, both vendors posted strong numbers, but: "growing AI investment expenses spooked Wall Street..."
- 2023 - the year of generative AI discovery for AWS customers, says CEO Andy Jassy - You could argue Amazon has been much quieter about gen AI than Microsoft or Google. But judging from the latest news cycles, that's clearly changing. Stuart's on the case. Oh, and I'm looking forward to putting "Rufus," Amazon's "expert shopping assistant," through its paces.
- Putting "more wood beyond the most important arrows" - Neil Barua's priorities as he steps up as PTC CEO this month - Barua took the lead on PTC's most recent earnings call. Stuart breaks out Barua's go-forward growth strategy, which includes closing deals with a combo of ServiceMax and PTC assets.
Acumatica Summit 2024 coverage - I was on the ground in Vegas to track the progress of a cloud ERP player in high growth mode. But in the AI/data platform era, every vendor has a new set of challenges. Here's what I took from candid talks with customers, partners, and Acumatica execs:
- Acumatica Summit 2024 - customers sound off on sustainability, AI, and why ERP user licensing matters
- Inside Acumatica's generative AI strategy, and why cloud ERP vendors must become data and innovation partners. Also check: most post-show podcast review with Josh Greenbaum.
A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- EQ brings data together on its Workday platform to hone services provision at scale - Phil
- How IBM Consulting takes on projects with its gen AI platform, IBM Consulting Advantage - Katy
- ThoughtSpot expands AI offering - but keeps ‘humans in the loop’ and highlights importance of accuracy - Derek
Jon's grab bag - Madeline continues her fine series with What I’d say to me back then - don't wait for the perfect time to go for it, says Salesforce’s Carolan Lennon. George is back in his digital twins wheelhouse in ScaleOut open sources real-time digital twin development tech.
Gary has a open source use case from one of the top digital effects studios in the world in DNEG - the team behind Oppenheimer’s special effects - adopts Red Hat OpenShift to boost productivity of CGI artists. Madeline also has an open source angle in Travel giant HBX Group ditches 10 years of tech debt with move to open source cloud stack. Finally, Martin wraps the diginomica week with a tech goodbye/hello in VDI is dead; long live VDI! Here's why.
Best of the enterprise web
My top seven
- How audio-jacking using gen AI can distort live audio transactions - If you can handle VentureBeat's UX nightmare autoplay video indulgence, your first stop should be Louis Columbus' article on AI audio deceptions: "Using simple techniques to retrain LLMs, IBM Threat Intelligence researchers were able to manipulate live audio transactions with gen AI. Their proof of concept worked so well that neither party involved in the conversation was aware that their discussion was being audio-jacked."
- Microsoft Actions Following Attack by Nation State Actor Midnight Blizzard - It's rare that I select a piece from a corporate blog, but this matter-of-fact notice from Microsoft hits the right cautionary tones: "The attack was not the result of a vulnerability in Microsoft products or services. To date, there is no evidence that the threat actor had any access to customer environments, production systems, source code, or AI systems. We will notify customers if any action is required. This attack does highlight the continued risk posed to all organizations from well-resourced nation-state threat actors like Midnight Blizzard."
- Intel's humbling - After a series of pieces propping up questionable ideas from OpenAI and Apple (Vision Pro), it's good to see Stratechery's Ben Thompson applying his formidable intellect to a different matter entirely: Intel's competitive woes.
- Are You Caught in Word Salad Dribble? - Lora Cecere ain't playin, and she doesn't care for supply chain buzzword salad either.
- From trials to triumphs in building materials circularity: Takeaways from Davos - I know what you're thinking, re: takeaways from Davos. We don't usually get applicable tips from such occasions. But this McKinsey piece surfaces interesting data: "Demand for low-carbon buildings could be three times higher than supply, thereby driving the circular transition."
- How to Bridge the IT Talent Gap: Challenges and Strategies - Kyler Cheatham of Third Stage Consulting provides a comprehensive guide to closing that pesky IT talent gap.
Read this Vice excerpt about Apple Vision Pro, then I have a question for you:
"While the creators behind many of these posts and videos lauded the Vision Pro—Neistat called it the “single greatest piece of tech I’ve ever used”—many observers pointed out that this is all just a little bit Black Mirror, and lamented a possible future where people walk around not looking at the real world with their real eyes, but a video feed. Even Tomasso, the YouTuber who went viral for eating out with the headset on, said there’s “something bizarre, something weird about having this buffer of technology between me and you” in his video, which is called “the sad reality of apple vision pro.” [Apple Vision Pro Turned the Real World Into a ‘Black Mirror’ Episode Overnight]
Does that sound like a next-generation workplace productivity device to you - or a classic Virtual Reality human disconnect, with a twist of Apple's design elegance? I believe the day of mainstreamed augmented reality is coming, but when it comes, it will come in the form of much-more-subtle glasswear, rather than outtakes from Styx's Mr. Roboto video, with Apple bros doing viral lifestyle stunts.
Reader Clive is en fuego, sending me a flurry of whiffery:
might even go cheaper via ebay auction :)
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) February 4, 2024
We might need a new phrase for "I had a rough day at the office" when it includes sending $25 million to fraudsters:
Finance worker pays out $25 million after video call with deepfake ‘chief financial officer’ | CNN https://t.co/rKcghSV6Xt
-> via @iC a double whiff, whiff on sending $25 million like an Uber tip, but also a collective whiff on Ai doomsday debates. The deep fake problem is now.
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) February 4, 2024
While I'm skeptical about the Apple Vision Pro as a workplace productivity device, I can't knock its winning social charm:
will be interested to know if this guy is alive in six months. :) will add to my list of very niche use cases.
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) February 4, 2024
Be careful out there, and 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.