ChatGPT and similar AI tools are currently gaining much attraction in the media, with many of us concerned about the possibilities of ChatGPT and similar generative AI tools being used for nefarious purposes. But should (or can we afford to) let these inhibitions hold us back from using some of today’s most exciting technologies? Innovation should be a central focus for all organisations as without it there is a risk of falling behind the competition.
We wanted to find out how IT decision makers (ITDMs) feel about ChatGPT, both personally and professionally, so we conducted a handful of in-depth interviews with technology leaders from large companies in the UK to gain a rich understanding of their thoughts. Our interviews uncovered a mixture of approaches and attitudes: from companies jumping head-on into ChatGPT usage, to those who currently have banned its use on company devices.
Among ITDMs there is an overarching sense of personal excitement and expectation that the future will be heavily influenced by AI. But will ChatGPT persist, or will it soon be overtaken by other platforms? And will organisations overcome the fear-factor to hone AI as a force for good?
A cautionary approach to AI-generated data
ITDMs acknowledge the ways in which ChatGPT could be detrimental if used for malicious and non-ethical purposes. Perhaps it will make us less productive or enable individuals to take credit for work that is not their own. There are also feelings of doubt surrounding the accuracy of the data, which would need to be verified separately.
This concept of controlling what data sits within ChatGPT and similar AI tools is a key consideration for ITDMs. It manifested itself in different ways in different conversations. Whether it’s to ensure that it is not used to create templates or how-to guides for cyber-attacks, or to prevent misinformation that could, for example, unduly damage company reputation. In one instance, it was suggested that the best way for ChatGPT to be harnessed within an organisation, would be to have it running exclusively with internally approved datasets.
Business snags, but excitement and hype prevail
ITDMs are impressed by the potential for ChatGPT and similar AI platforms, and how it will shape the future, both in a personal and professional capacity. Thinking more specifically about business use cases, chatbots were singled out as something in use but that could be enhanced by further reducing the need for human intervention.
Currently, tools like ChatGPT are helping take out the mundane workloads in organisations, by compiling, generating, and checking documentation. In this way, potential time-savings are immense. One respondent we spoke to reflected on a task that would have taken 4-5 lawyers a whole week, being carried out by AI and machine learning technology in “probably 10 minutes”. Thinking again about the need for organisations to remain competitive, something that can not only save time but also adapt core business models, is worthy of serious investment.
Of course, with certain tasks becoming redundant, people are bound to fear for their jobs. However, ITDMs viewed the impact ChatGPT will have on the workforce as positive overall, in modifying existing roles and opening new opportunities.
But some are held back by reservations and hesitancies surrounding regulations, with one respondent revealing that using ChatGPT on company devices was prohibited at their organisation, and could result in dismissal if something were to go wrong. Whether this is the correct course of action remains to be seen.
The future of ChatGPT
A lot of hype surrounds ChatGPT right now, but there is consensus among ITDMs that as other organisations rush to produce their own versions, it may well be overtaken. Microsoft 365 Copilot is one such product we’ve been advised to look out for. AI in a much broader sense is what ITDMs regard as important and while ChatGPT may be replaced by other tools, there is no indication that AI chatbots will be going away any time soon.
So, what have we learnt about ChatGPT in the view of ITDMs?
It’s clear organisations that embrace and adjust to the ever-changing landscape of AI will be best equipped for the future, whether that includes ChatGPT or another AI chatbot remains to be seen. Job security is not a major concern for our respondents, at least not any time soon, as they perceive the tool as an essential component in alleviating mundane tasks, thereby enhancing worker productivity and enabling them to concentrate on other tasks. However, apprehensions regarding security and control of data, as well as unethical usage, are prevalent among many, potentially impeding the advantageous potential it holds.
Whether you feel optimistic about ChatGPT, or are on the more cautious side, there is no denying that it is gaining attention and having an impact. But will it be replaced by other tools? And will it have more of a positive or negative impact on the workplace?
Only time will tell…
Five 30-minute in-depth interviews were conducted in June 2023 with IT decision makers in the UK. All respondents were from organisations in the private sector, with 1,000 or more employees.
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