I’ve spent a few months diving into AI. Here’s what I know. | ODEA

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I’ve spent a few months diving into AI. Here’s what I know.

At first, I was telling my team I thought professional services, such as marketing firms like us, would be transformed by AI but those of us 50+ could keep on (largely) as we were. It would take years for what we do to be taken over by the AI bots. The 20- and 30-somethings were the ones who needed to reinvent themselves. Or so I thought.

Then ChatGPT came on the scene. Then Claude. And Gemini. And too many others to name. I slowly realized the transformation I originally thought would take at least a decade was happening in months, not years. It was creeping into many of the tools we already use, like Adobe and Google Analytics. And then the moment happened that changed my entire outlook on how fast AI would change how things get done.

A start-up client opened their branding process to input from their entire team of 30+ early employees and they had some, oh shall we say, differing ideas for the direction of the brand. A group of them got together and provided us with some interesting input – including logos they created with the help of ChatGPT. Our first AI-generated client input! In our eyes, it wasn’t great design work. But to them, it represented what they wanted to see. In the end, it provided solid input which helped lead us to a brand the team is excited about.

That was an eye opener for me. I started more seriously exploring ChatGPT and even dedicated my treadmill cooldowns to listening to videos and podcasts on all things AI. We hired our first in-house developer, a tech with the heart of an entrepreneur, who continues to push my AI timeline even faster. We started a Slack channel dedicated to AI that I now have a hard time trying to keep up with thanks to all the new tech finds my team posts.

So after months of digging into AI, here are two quotes that have stuck with me

Seth Goden – “I think AI is the biggest change in our world since the invention of electricity – a bigger change than the internet.”

If you don’t know Seth Godin, he is often referred to as the godfather of modern marketing and was one of the early pioneers of digital marketing. He has written numerous books and still writes every day. I love that at 63 years old, he is embracing the next seismic shift in not just marketing but in business in general. His take on AI being as big a change as electricity will obviously need to play out over time. But he is embracing the opportunity, not fighting against it. For anyone who thinks they are too old to grasp AI or are not inclined to keep pace, Seth is my go-to example when I call BS.

Various – “AI will not replace humans. Humans who know how to use AI will replace those who don’t.”

I’ve heard this statement or one like it in almost every video or podcast I’ve listened to at this point, especially when talking about Generative AI, the platforms that generate novel content on their own. As interesting as that novel content is currently, it is not (yet) able to replace humans. It scrubs, indexes and consolidates data points into often clunky first drafts. It cannot (yet) replicate the full range of human abilities, especially things like creativity, a discerning eye, interpretation based on experiences, or intuition. As marketers, we’ve not (yet) seen AI be able to compete with the brains, hearts, and gut instincts of our team. But AI tools are definitely allowing us to be more efficient on how we use those uniquely human talents. (Thank you, AI-enabled Photoshop for isolating all those images for us!)

As I’ve explored other business applications of AI outside of marketing, I’ve been working with content I thought would be straightforward – things like OSHA regulations. You either meet the standard or you don’t, right? Wrong. Have you ever read an OSHA standard? I hadn’t before but AI showed me just how much room there is for interpretation. That’s where humans still dominate. And why humans who know how to use AI in conjunction with their experiences, instincts and talents will remain in demand.

We are only starting our path with AI here at ODEA and there is much more that I don’t know at this point than what I do. I do believe AI will fundamentally change how we work as marketers faster than I first imagined. It will fundamentally change how I work as a business strategist. And very likely, it will lead us to launch a new AI-focused company to take advantage of these shifts. I now tell my team we will always be part marketing agency, but that will soon look much different and only be part of how we go to market.

I hope you’ll reach out and share what you’re seeing and how your team is responding. As AI becomes more than an assistant, more than a chatbot, how will it impact what you do each day? What your company does? Talk to us at [email protected].