• July 7, 2023
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

AI Is Generating All the Buzz

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It’s hard to believe that this is already the fifth year that we are publishing our CRM Top 100. In this issue, we identify the top 100 suppliers of software to help companies with their customer service, marketing, and sales initiatives. We also highlight what we and trusted industry insiders consider to be the hottest trends and technologies, both today and in the short-term future.

Not surprisingly, artificial intelligence—or more specifically, generative AI—makes up a huge share of our coverage this year. It was first introduced late last year, and its impact was immediate and widespread.

Generative AI is causing quite a buzz in CRM circles and boardrooms across the world because of the increasing popularity of programs like OpenAI’s ChatGPT to produce content, including marketing and sales emails, product descriptions, web content, social media posts, ad copy, automated responses to customer and employee queries, sales call follow-up recommendations, and so much more, within seconds.

Since its introduction in November, ChatGPT has become extremely popular, luring in more than 1 million users in just its first week. Many other companies, including Microsoft and Google, have since rushed in to develop their own competing generative AI products. Their number is sure to keep growing as an array of startups emerge and major technology providers compete for mindshare.

The market for generative AI is still very much in its infancy. While such tools have been in development for years, the wide-scale rollout of these models is a recent phenomenon. Many vendors’ products are still in the beta or initial launch stage.

CRM software suppliers of every type have also been quick to introduce generative AI capabilities into their solutions, allowing large language models to create everything from contact center staffing forecasts to sales forecasts, from automated responses to customer chatbot inquiries to customer objections to marketing messages, from single blogposts on social media to videos to be used in large-scale social media advertising campaigns. And, as our experts point out throughout this issue, we are just starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible with generative AI. The introduction of new integrations and new use cases is a daily occurrence. Just scan the news stories on our website if you need proof.

Or, you could consider this stat from Statista: 73 percent of U.S. marketing professionals reported using generative AI tools, such as chatbots, as a part of their work today.

Additionally, a new S&P Global Market Intelligence report predicts that the market for generative AI offerings will reach $3.7 billion this year and expand to $36 billion by 2028, at a compound annual growth rate of 58 percent. That kind of growth would certainly be unprecedented.

Generative AI works by taking huge amounts of information from across the internet and internal company data sources and then using that information to make predictions and create output based on preset prompts and guardrails.

And while this output can be crafted in an instant, with AI performing in mere seconds what would have taken a team of analysts and data scientists hours, if not days or weeks, to complete, there are no guarantees that what the generative AI generates will be correct. The responses might incorporate biases inherent in the content it ingests or the models on which it was trained. Problems only multiply if the data from which the generative AI draws its conclusions is flawed or outdated, as is so often the case in many companies.

These generative AI tools don’t necessarily know whether the things they produce are accurate, and users have little way of knowing which information was used or how it was processed by the AI algorithms to generate content. Therefore, it would be unwise, certainly in the short term, to rely solely on the information or content they create, or worse, to scrap humans entirely in favor of such automation.

Frank Schneider, a vice president and artificial intelligence evangelist at Verint, said it perfectly:

“That is folly. It’s not just another chatbot. It’s a new source of data that is easier to query and leverage. But like nuclear power, it’s a little more dangerous at times.”

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

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