It’s now grown far beyond simply being a mind-blowing tool for techies and AI enthusiasts, with growing numbers of us using it in our day-to-day lives.
This includes CEOs of some of the world’s top companies – who are increasingly appreciating its power to assist with brainstorming, strategizing, and even making decisions.
Imagine running a company and having a board member who knows just about everything there is to know about everything and who can provide insights and advice at lightning speed. Today, thanks to generative AI, this is a reality for a growing number of top-tier business leaders.
So, let’s take a look at how they’re using it – and what those of us who don’t have multi-billion-dollar companies to run can learn from the ways they’re putting it to use.
ChatGPT In The C-Suite
With all the excitement around AI, and generative AI such as ChatGPT in particular, it can be difficult to separate hype from reality.
It’s a fast-moving scene. Just two months after ChatGPT was unveiled to the public, catalyzing the current wave of enthusiasm for generative AI, one survey found that 49 percent of companies were using it, and another 30 percent intended to use it in the future.
Among those early adopters was online course provider Coursera. What makes this a significant use case isn’t just that Coursera quickly partnered with OpenAI to build ChatGPT’s technology into its services. But also, the technology was adopted and championed right from the very top by CEO Jeff Maggioncalda.
Recently, I spoke to Maggioncalda to find out how the CEO of a $2.6 billion company with over 1,000 employees uses it on a daily basis.
He told me, "As a writing assistant, it's been incredible. And beyond that, as a thought partner, it's been extraordinary.
Relying heavily on it for writing might seem strange to someone who has, as Maggioncalda puts it, “bounced off” ChatGPT.
By default, ChatGPT's written output can seem bland and formulaic – very much as if a robot wrote it. However, as Maggioncalda and others have learned, the trick is to give detailed input and guidance on the specific output that you're looking for.
He tells me, “I’m like, well, don’t always ask it to write from scratch! Give it something to work with. Train it on how you want the tone, how you want the style, and it can be amazing.”
As far as being a thought partner, Maggioncalda talked me through an example involving training it to help make decisions on hiring. This involved feeding it with pages and pages of information on Coursera’s products, customers, competitors, company objectives, playbooks, key results, and many more data points.
He says, "People might say, 'What are you doing? You're not even asking it a question!' and no, I'm not asking a question. I’m loading context into its brain – into the LLM – so now it effectively understands Coursera’s business.”
Is he not worried that, in some ways, he might be making himself redundant by demonstrating that a computer can do his job just as well as he can?
“Some people might be like, oh my gosh, Jeff, you’re outsourcing your whole brain to ChatGPT. Well, if I verbatim took the answer, then fine, you’re right. But I never verbatim take the answer.
"I think of it as talking to one of my executives or a really smart advisor. I'm still the decision-maker."
“Is it perfect? No. Is it as good as my executive team? No. Is it really, really valuable, so valuable that I talk to ChatGPT every single day? Yes.”
Generative AI for Everyday Business
Even if we aren’t company CEOs, we can still use ChatGPT to help us write and make decisions across all manner of work and day-to-day life use cases.
If we do, though, there are some important things we should always keep in mind.
Firstly, there’s the issue of privacy. With the publicly available version of ChatGPT (or many other cloud-based AI tools, particularly if they’re free), there's no expectation of privacy. OpenAI is clear that anything put in can be seen by humans and potentially could be used to further train their own AI systems.
Always keep in mind the importance of keeping a human in the loop. Use it to assist with writing tasks and decision-making, but remember that you have the final say. If you don’t agree with something it states or suggests, double-check and trust your human intuition.
Before letting it make decisions, teach it about yourself or your business. Provide it with as much information as possible and tell it to use it while considering options and making suggestions.
One particularly useful trick is to get it to check blind spots or suggest things we may have missed. Simply asking, "Is there anything I've overlooked?” can often throw up very valuable ideas and pointers relating to many tasks.
Lastly, be aware of how quickly the technology around generative AI is evolving. New tools are emerging every day, and this means new capabilities for us. It’s easy to get left behind, but keep an eye open for new developments that affect your role or industry, and you’ll stay ahead of the game.
You can watch my full conversation with Jeff here: