The Potential & Pitfalls of Artificial Intelligence
There are few innovations that rival the potential impact of budding Artificial Intelligence (AI). In the same way the internet upended everyday communications and ultimately became the shared platform for everything from shopping to entertainment, AI is now poised to shift the traditional paradigms that leaders depend on to succeed in business.
Machine learning and AI improve and develop exponentially faster than any analog or human-driven technology could, so understanding AI means leaving room for relentless advances, changes and new offerings. This is the undeniable challenge that most leaders have become accustomed to when it comes to implementing new tech. It is constantly reinventing itself. With AI, however, this evolutionary process is supercharged. New apps, platforms and tools emerge weekly, daily, even hourly, as this trailblazing technology builds upon itself.
Change like this typically solicits two reactions—acceptance or rejection. While some executives see AI as jet fuel for the engine of their business that can propel them further, faster, others may see it as exciting but scary—something that is to be feared until we know how to better control it.
An argument could be made for both of these responses. But the truth is, most people are already utilizing and relying on AI without even realizing it. Siri schedules our appointments; Netflix learns whether we like rom coms or horror movies; Waze keeps us from getting lost; and our Apple Watches keep track of our steps. The forward motion of this technology is already in place. Regardless of whether leaders within the direct selling industry choose to embrace AI or not, an undeniable movement is underway. From this point on, AI will bring a competitive edge that simply can’t be replicated through traditional practices. The remaining time direct selling companies can stay relevant and competitive without AI is dwindling.
The only remaining question is how long will you wait?
It’s Not Too Late
Technology moves so quickly that it can be easy to feel behind. The good news is that the experts in this field are not lightyears ahead of everyone else. The technology is so new and fresh that the learning curve is still solidly in place.
More than that, expertise in this field isn’t necessarily the goal. Leaders don’t need to become savants in AI and its many iterations. They simply need to adopt a few simple ways to wield it and let the technology do the work for them. There is no need to know the nuts and bolts behind every platform.
There is growing concern that implementing AI will eliminate jobs and downsize employment opportunities. But Blake Mallen, Billion-Dollar Brand Builder and Host of DSN’s Direct Selling SHIFT Podcast, believes that instead of replacing humans, AI is a toolbox that can be used instead to inspire and equip the team members already in place in a way that amplifies their natural gifts while minimizing the impact of tedious tasks that slow down progress.
“AI is really practical; ridiculously low cost; and highly effective,” Mallen said. “We’re at a time when we can give our team what feels like superpowers.”
What AI Can (and Can’t) Do
Typically, when new technology breaks onto the scene, companies need a dedicated staff member who can gain expertise in that field, and then bring accommodations to the organization in a way that makes sense for the business as a whole. With this next generation of AI, that learning gap has been eliminated.
“Now there’s no-code tools,” shared Brandon White, AI expert and File Finder Founder and CEO. “That means they have written an interface that you can interact with on top of the actual technology, and what that allows you to do is basically use AI tools like you would a browser or a word processor.”
This user-friendly format doesn’t mean that AI doesn’t require supervision. ChatGPT, for instance, is a language model that pulls from pre-existing information online to provide responses. That can be incredibly resourceful—as long as it’s building answers based on correct information, rather than corrupt sources. There is still the need for a strong human component within this artificial world.
For now, AI particularly shines when it comes to customer service, data analytics and work flow automation, but the niche is rapidly evolving. New companies and platforms are popping up every single day that are utilizing the power of GPT-4 to pre-write prompts for users that will provide the results they are looking for.
All of these AI tools can save time, meet a tailored set of needs and deliver output far beyond the norm for capacity—as long as leaders lean into strategy first before rushing into total AI adoption.
“Identify the problems in your business first,” White said. “Don’t try to take AI and stick it in your business. Figure out where your problems are today, and then see if AI can fix those.”
AI Success Stories
eXp Realty Founder and CEO Glenn Sanford was one of the first executives within the direct selling industry to leverage the power of AI, describing his strategy approach as being “obsessed with the future to improve the present.” From the company’s virtual eXp World, which gives agents and employees their own avatars that can interact and attend meetings in a virtual campus, to its latest model, Luna, which leverages GPT-4 to assist agents with daily tasks; provide 24/7 tech support; and create brand compliant content generation, eXp is heavily focused on how AI can be used to free up agents’ time to focus on the most critical tasks in their businesses.
“Luna is just our first step toward using AI to empower agents,” Sanford said. “We believe that AI can be used in the metaverse to increase productivity and cultivate creativity. Looking forward, we have AI tools coming out in Frame for meeting summaries, surfacing relevant content during conversations and even improving accessibility for hearing- and sight-impaired users.”
High-performing entrepreneurs looking for their next venture already know the power of AI. Companies looking to attract these momentum builders embrace the robotic prowess of AI that allows users to scale quicker than would be possible without the propulsion of this technology to support them. There seems to be no limit to the potential and possibilities that AI presents the business world, but White wants leaders to remain optimistically aware of the pitfalls and shortcomings this technology presents.
“A word of caution,” White explained. “Unless you are running your own AI large-language model internally, be careful about putting your data into the AI system. The back end to these tools is ChatGPT, and if you read the fine print, it is sending that data back into their engine, which means your competitors can use that information. So, you do want to be careful. If there’s sensitive information, you do not want to put it into these engines.”
There’s an AI for That
Blake Mallen recommends 8 AI tools that take the heavy lifting out of everyday business tasks.
Zoom and Meeting Note Taker
Voice-to-text transcription software that uses AI to turn voice conversations into searchable and shareable notes.
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Keep track of meetings without writing a word, then receive an actionable to-do list that can be sent to attendees. Take a picture of a whiteboard or presentation slide at an event during a recording, and it will insert it in line with the post-meeting transcript.
Content Creation and Automation
AI language model that generates content that mimics human-like text responses.
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Reply to customer questions across social media; convert customers with generated emails that increase click-through rates; develop personalized training materials and scripts; and enhance customer service with a 24/7 customer support messaging platform.
Create videos using a library of AI avatars that support lip-syncing in more than 20 languages.
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Unleash a custom avatar complete with cloned voices; create a talking photo using only a portrait and text; produce studio-quality voiceovers.
Social Media Simplified
Automate social media plans based on measurable analytics.
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Identify and analyze social metrics; streamline posting across all social platforms; enable content planning; monitor what content is getting the most traction; and manage ads.
Content and Competitor Research Platform
Find the best-performing content, viral posts and top influencers online.
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Research high-performing content, study trends, determine what content works and generate content ideas.
Drive sales even while on autopilot.
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Capture interested leads; drive sales and conversations online; automatically add customer contact info to a company database; engage with and attract customers.
How-To Guide Creator
Automatically document processes into a step-by-step interactive walkthrough.
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Document and create step-by-step tutorials, then share with a link or export by pdf.
Flawless Presentations Fast
A fresh take on slide presentation preparation with user-friendly design.
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Create dynamic and visually appealing presentations without having to focus on formatting; utilize nested cards, publishing and analytics to engage with the audience; and add embedded GIFs, videos, charts and websites to documents, slide decks and webpages.
From the December 2023 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.