AI won’t replace your purpose.
We’ve been working on trendwatching for the past five or six years. We look at trends consistently in our day to day work, but once a year we compile the top trends in major industries and verticals into a series of documents and eventually into a large book of trends for the year.
In all our years of working on them, we’ve never had such a major shift from one year to the next. Generative AI has taken the world by storm.
What seemed like a soft launch of a new tool by OpenAI at the end of 2022 served as the catalyst for a whole new world, affecting every industry in some way or another.
There seems to be a gold-rush by businesses to accelerate the process of automation, using machines to save on wage costs and the complexities of managing teams. This is, in my opinion, a very short-sighted way of looking at things. If you’re only seeing the rise of AI as a way to save on salaries, then you’re probably looking at it in the wrong way. You might save in the short term, but you’ll be bitten in the backside before too long.
Human behaviour is changing at a much more moderate speed, so we still see overlaps from one year to another around what people expect from businesses, however the dawn of generative AI has brought AI (in all of its forms) to the forefront – making it front and centre on people’s minds as they plan for 2024.
The biggest issue with AI is that it’s moving at such a rapid speed that most people tend to be scared of it. On the one hand you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t keep abreast with everything that’s going on in the industry, on the other you’re overwhelmed by the constant changes, and it makes it kind of tempting to just bury your head in the sand and wait for it all to settle down.
I’m not holding my breath. I don’t think it will settle down any time soon, so my advice to businesses is to really keep on top of things in every way you possibly can.
The revolution is coming and you don’t want to be on the guillotine when the blade drops.
Today we’ll look at what becomes ever more important as we head into a world of constant change.
As every business around you gets access and knowledge of the AI tools around them, you have to work even harder to figure out what makes you special. What makes you stand out, either in a crowded market or in a market that’s being taken over by AI tools.
It might seem bleedingly obvious, but as we move into a world of extreme automation, our humanity comes at a premium. There are tools out there that make it easy to personalise messaging at scale. Tools that help us create the mythical “audience of one”, but these are tools.
Within areas of your business that you can easily automate, using technology makes perfect sense. But in parallel ensure to use the time you’re saving there to create better interactions with your customers and clients. Don’t see the time savings from automation as an opportunity to save money, see them as a great opportunity to give your people more time to build and maintain authentic relationships with your customers.
This will help you stand out from a crowd that is increasingly looking for efficiencies and ways to save money. They’re pushing themselves into extreme commoditisation, effectively creating the perfect environment to be replaced entirely by machines.
We have been preaching the importance of brand from the inception of the agency, but the need for a great brand and a deliberate brand narrative has never been as acute.
And as you work on your brand, look for the aspects that make you stand out, the elements that add that touch of authenticity that people out there are so desperately looking for.
Don’t hide behind broad strokes statements. Don’t try to be everything for everyone. That time has gone, people can build individual chatbots to do exactly what they want, they expect specialisation, and it will only become more important as time goes on.
As we forge ahead with including AI and automation in every aspect of our business, there’s one aspect that we should never neglect or automate parts of, and that’s the relationships that we have with the people around us.
Your team is, and should remain, one of the aspects that deserves most of your real attention. The people who work with you should always feel as if they’re being treated with decency and authenticity. They are at the core of what makes you unique and, if you neglect them, they’ll quickly find that they can move on.
It might seem tempting to let them do so as you automate more and more, however you have to remember that your clients want to interact with humans, and even if machines can do so much, there’s always an element of bringing everything together that only humans can do (for now, I know).
While it might seem to be extra work to keep them motivated and excited about your brand, they’re the ones who will drive it forward because they can feel an affinity to it (and to you, hopefully) that can’t be felt by machines that are built to automate.
If we look at the industrial revolution we can quickly see that there will be a great percentage of tasks that will be automated, and this will happen at a much faster pace given the technologies we’re seeing on the market today.
But over the past decade, we’ve seen a resurgence of importance being placed on human-made products and services. This will become more acute as services become increasingly automated. Tasks that can be automated will invariably be automated, but that puts even more value on things that have been made, designed, written, or shot by humans.
Take a long hard look at the aspects of your business that benefit from being made by people, and concentrate on becoming better at them, and in the process becoming better-known for them.
And in the end…
Look at the aspects of your business (and life) that can be automated. Work hard on getting the advantages that AI will give you, but keep one thing in mind: focus on the stuff that you’re good at. Don’t let the AI revolution blind you. Remember what makes you you, what gives your business the edge, and focus on making that better, no matter whether it can be automated or not.