• February 1, 2024
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

GenAI’s Time Has Come. Are You Ready?

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Just as it did in 2023, artificial intelligence—and more specifically generative AI—is sure to dominate the news cycles in 2024.

Based on our own internal analysis, seven of the top 10 news stories of 2023 on our DestinationCRM.com website were about AI. New generative AI product releases and integrations were an almost daily occurrence, as technology vendors big and small were under constant pressure to bring something genAI-related to market. Some vendors led, others played catch-up, but almost everyone had some kind of generative AI innovation in the pipeline.

There were also plenty of industry experts issuing stark warnings about very ominous-sounding things like hallucinations and biases, foreshadowing huge damage to company reputations if generative AI gets it wrong.

On the business side, companies in every industry were weighing their options, either actively testing generative AI through pilots or using it on a limited basis while looking for that delicate balance between long- and short-term benefits and costs.

Truly, to say that there was a lot of hype around generative AI in 2023 would be an understatement. Well, now it’s 2024; the hype is over, and the real work of making generative AI work has begun. Proof of this can be found in “A Look Ahead at CRM in 2024.” Not surprisingly, many of the industry pundits whose opinions are presented there had plenty to say about generative AI.

So as we enter the new year, the question becomes how quickly companies will be able to scale up their use of generative AI. Several recent industry studies have found that the vast majority—in some cases, 85 percent or more—of C-suite executives plan to increase their spending on generative AI this year, labelling it a top three priority. If top executives have their way in 2024, we should expect to see more businesses moving past small pilots to scaled implementations.

That’s not going to be an easy task. Amid continued economic uncertainty, budget constraints are a serious hurdle, and generative AI can be an expensive technology.

Successful adoption of generative AI in customer service, marketing, and sales will also require rigorous technical expertise and planning, something that is still in short supply at most organizations.

Beyond limited skills and financial resources, other challenges with generative AI remain and are likely to do so for quite some time. These include data complexity, ethical concerns, privacy and security issues, and problems getting solutions to integrate with other software and infrastructure already in place and with future purchases.

In 2024, navigating the generative AI landscape will not be easy. The industry is fragmented, the pace of innovation is unprecedented, and the options are almost limitless and very confusing.

Nonetheless, companies that have been sitting on the sidelines cannot afford to continue doing so. Inertia is no longer sustainable.

That’s why we decided to start the year off with an entire issue dedicated to generative AI. In our three features in this issue, we discuss what’s possible with generative AI today, what might come to pass in the coming months and years, which considerations must be taken into account when rolling out some form of generative AI, and which business functions are most likely to be impacted.

A common thread in all three of these articles is that assessing your digital and technical maturity, current processes, staffing, and company culture are necessary to maximize the impact of generative AI over the long term.

The bottom line is that everyone must be mindful that we are still in the early stages of generative AI development and adoption. As we progress from pilot to real-world implementation, success models, underlying technologies, and best practices will continue to emerge and evolve.

Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

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