AI Is Being Integrated Into All Areas Of Modern Business Processes

April 4, 2024  |  Mark Hillary

The latest artificial intelligence (AI) battle has been kicked off by Elon Musk. Although Musk was an early investor in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, he has now been fighting them over a lack of transparency.

The issue is that OpenAI started out as a not-for-profit business. The aim was to research AI and to publish all their findings — including code — publicly. These good intentions changed, and the company is now very firmly focused on profit.

Musk has launched his own research company, called xAI, which has focused on training a chatbot called ‘Grok’ from the data available on the X system that Musk owns — formerly known as Twitter before he purchased it.

This is just the latest AI fight in an intense period of activity that started when OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022.

Microsoft has emerged from this period as one of the global leaders. Their Co-pilot tools are now integrated into almost every Microsoft tool, focused on enhancing productivity for users that are building a spreadsheet or building a PowerPoint presentation.

I think the Microsoft move is the most important one here. Elon Musk has been fighting with OpenAI over the philosophy of AI — should it be freely available for all companies to use or not? But the argument about making it available to all does not answer the question of what it can be used for.

Companies have been exploring AI for many years. OpenAI didn’t change this when they released ChatGPT. What they did was catch the attention of the general public and media. Because ChatGPT was so simple to use and freely available, it was easy to try it — suddenly people understood that AI might be useful.

But it is Microsoft that has really shown where AI can change modern business by applying it to workplace productivity.

The Microsoft Office 365 suite of office automation tools has been the dominant business software for a long time. It used to be that people needed to buy copies of Word or Excel, but now they just subscribe to Office 365 and these tools are included in the package alongside others such as Teams, PowerPoint, and OneDrive.

Microsoft is playing an important wider role in demonstrating the value of AI here. As Elon Musk and OpenAI argue about the value of AI and whether it should be freely available, Microsoft is quietly rolling it out into all their products.

If you want to make your PowerPoint presentation look better, it is now possible to just describe what you want to the AI co-pilot, and it will instantly make the changes. If you want to query some data on an Excel sheet without understanding the right Excel commands, you can just ask co-pilot in normal conversational language. If you want to format a Word document so that your report is presented looking like a published book, then you can just ask co-pilot to do it.

This is how AI is immediately changing business today.

The media fear has been around the replacement of jobs. Jobs will vanish as robots replace workers. This fear has not been proven because AI is great at handling specific tasks, but not complete jobs. This is why the co-pilot idea works so well. If a human guides the AI, then it can perform the tasks that the human needs much faster than it is possible to manage manually.

So it can make human employees much more productive and generally happier as well — because they are not having to manage all those manual tasks.

What this means is that AI has truly arrived. It is now becoming an integral part of planning how to manage business processes. People in the IT industry may continue arguing about how AI should be paid for, but the Microsoft approach looks like the smartest way forward in the immediate future — integrate AI into every business tool so it helps humans to do more.

AI has arrived, and it is not going to be restricted to ChatGPT and chat tools. It will be integrated into all aspects of business and business processes.

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