As I draft this article, a slightly annoying button is floating on my screen asking if “I want help writing” this article using AI. Thanks to the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the global landscape is undergoing a monumental shift. According to a recent McKinsey study, AI could deliver over $13 trillion in global economic value by 2030. 1

While the buzz around AI, including popular applications like ChatGPT, captures our imagination, there’s a more profound story unfolding – the story of AI as a transformative force across industries.

So, what does this mean for executive leaders and product managers? Let’s go beyond the buzz and talk about three ways to harness AI for good. But first: some pitfalls. 

⚖️ The Good, the Bad, the World Changer

The first way to harness AI for good is to not approach it as a singular technology, but as a diverse portfolio encompassing various risk levels. Like any investment portfolio, not every aspect of AI is guaranteed to yield uniform results. Be prepared to navigate a spectrum of outcomes, from the good and the bad to the world changers.

Let’s start with the bad because, unfortunately, much of what is happening with AI currently falls into this category. When tools like ChatGPT first launched, thousands of executives and product leaders rushed to integrate AI into their technology stack, no matter the cost. Then OpenAI announced their vision of a GPT store and hundreds of millions in projected value disappeared overnight.2

Companies should always prioritize time for moonshots and innovation (McKinsey’s Three Horizon Framework is useful here)3 but need to carefully map out expected ROI before investing. What will create long-term value? Will it generate defensible IP? Are there alternative solutions? 

It’s not all doom and gloom. Solopreneurship has exploded thanks largely to these AI-powered tools.4 You don’t have to hire a person for every skill anymore; founders can find most skills needed if they are willing to dig. In larger companies, you can get a quick productivity boost by providing these tools to targeted teams such as marketing.

For those looking for the big opportunity, the world changer: find a customer with a unique problem, or find a unique voice, or find unique data to provide. Or find all 3. Even with the help of virality, you cannot build a business on these tools without finding a way to provide a unique value proposition. 

AI’s potential to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and open new markets is only restrained by our own imaginations. Leaders who approach AI with a strategic mindset, rather than chasing the latest trend, position their companies and products to reap long-term benefits.

🤡 Why so serious?

The second way to harness AI for good is to use it to reimagine how closely your company aligns with the evolving spectrum of consumer values. AI has the power to bring you closer to your consumers, yet this proximity isn’t always what every consumer seeks. 

Take, for instance, tools like Synthesia, where you can use fake video avatars to present content.5 These tools are amazing but necessitate a careful evaluation of brand appropriateness. Historically corporations take themselves too seriously, struggling to capture younger demographics. Conversely, recently we’ve also seen inappropriate usage, with big businesses leveraging avatars in industries like healthcare where authenticity and trust are paramount. 

In balancing innovation with brand integrity, the key is authenticity. Does the AI solution align with your brand’s voice and values? Even within industries, customers give companies permission to offload non-essential functions to AI – some even prefer it. For instance, most do not want to pay full price to receive therapy from a bot. But if a customer wants to quickly learn more about a condition, AI is a big improvement beyond paper-based discharge instructions. 

Over- and under-indexing on aligning with consumer values are both dangerous, so don’t go it alone. The way to get this right is to connect with your customers and build these solutions ‘with them’ vs. ‘for them’.

💎 Beyond the bling

The third way to harness AI for good is to look beyond the buzzy applications that are popularized right now. Companies are rushing to consumer applications and developing micro apps via prompts, but if you step back, a lot of the ROI should come from underneath the hood. Look at your operations, technology architecture, and repetitive tasks to assess how you can take advantage. 

Many operational applications will require more advanced solutions. For instance, Azure’s OpenAI Service allows input of proprietary data to customize and maximize value.6 Behind-the-scenes enhancements may not be flashy, but can drive competitiveness and much higher overall value.

Operational AI isn’t just about automation; it’s about acceleration. Find where novel insights can be pulled into flows. Who can benefit from trends? How to turn analytics into actionable intelligence? This not only saves costs but also drives strategic decision-making.

🔮 What’s next?

This article focuses on some of the recent introductions of AI in the market, but the landscape is vast. Stick to proven product and business principles – like the three I laid out here – and you will position yourself to succeed.

For those looking ahead, we’re ~60% of the way into fully unlocking AI’s potential in business. The next big step? Mastering how we gather and manage data with the same ease we can now navigate the user interface. While making AI user-friendly has been crucial for widespread adoption, the future lies in AI tools that are not only easy to use but are also skilled at handling relevant data and utilizing IP that goes beyond just what’s publicly available.

AI’s true value lies not just in its technological capabilities but in its potential to revolutionize how we think about and conduct business. From operational efficiencies to ethical considerations, AI is much more than just a buzzword; it’s a pivotal element of modern business strategy. 

Be strategic, be authentic, and go beyond the buzz to harness AI for good.


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About the speaker
zachary fleming WellB, CEO Member

Zac is a growth driver with a passion to create innovation within healthcare. With over a decade on the leading edge of digital health, he brings his experience across start-ups to Fortune 30 corporations to help companies transform to make healthcare the way we all wish it would be. He casts bold visions that are grounded in proven strategies to help product-led companies exceed their growth, EBITDA and experience goals. He is the Founding CEO of WellB.

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