Beyond Generative AI and the Future of Innovation

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Read more about author Don Schuerman.

The power of generative AI (GenAI) seems to have no limits. Every day, we see new barriers being broken and new use cases that no one thought possible.

And yet, I can’t help but notice that most of these advances we’re hearing about revolve mostly around content creation. While remarkable in its own right, this begs the question: Are we truly harnessing the full transformative potential of generative AI?

Don’t get me wrong: These are some mind-bending achievements. I recently read about a film producer who created an entire feature-length film solely using generative AI – from script development to video and audio creation – and the results were worthy of being shown in my local megaplex.

But in business, we’re mostly pointing GenAI at everyday tasks – “write this better,” “summarize this,” or “generate code to do this.” These examples – as groundbreaking as they are – are largely complementary to how businesses are run. Peripheral AI features like this will quickly become commoditized table stakes, providing competitive advantage for neither the vendors that sell them nor the enterprises that use them.

What if we start thinking bigger? Generative AI can be used not just for incremental improvement, but to reimagine how our businesses are run at their very core. With a different approach to GenAI, we have the potential to completely overhaul a business to run better, faster, and more efficiently and effectively from top to bottom. We can accelerate legacy transformation in ways you never thought possible.

GenAI has the potential to unleash an unprecedented wave of entrepreneurs:

  • It can assist with product development by identifying market gaps and refining ideas to meet user needs with critical feedback.
  • It can design operational workflows by gathering industry best practices to operationalize business concepts.
  • It can formulate targeted sales strategies by analyzing trends and behaviors to drive growth and seize new opportunities efficiently.
  • It can elevate customer service by using AI-powered chatbots and sentiment analysis to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

But that might not be the biggest impact. Starting a new business is always daunting, but transforming an enterprise that has been around for decades can be an even more herculean feat. These stalwart entities are saddled with complicated legacy systems, inefficient legacy processes and ingrained legacy thinking built up over years – which is why startups with more nimble operations are often able to challenge them. 

However, what if we could apply generative AI to analyze the complex web of systems and aging strategies running these established businesses to reimagine a more modern future?  

This could breathe new life into old enterprises by streaming operations in a much faster and cost-effective way than relying solely on expensive business consultants. 

This has the potential to go beyond generative AI – it’s better thought of as transformational AI. We’re not just accelerating the use of AI, this is accelerating innovation by using the power of generative AI to catalyze new business strategies and overhaul existing operations, paving the way for a new era of business innovation.  

Now not all large language models (LLMs) powering generative AI are best suited to support true business innovation such as this. Most models today are trained on general knowledge from the internet, which can only get you so far. But new and specialized LLMs are coming online all the time. By using techniques such as retrieval augmented generation (RAG), you can augment these general LLMs with specific types of data – such as best practices for specific industries – and infuse them into these models so they can adapt to sector-specific requirements without extensive training or fine-tuning.

We are still in the infancy of generative AI. Most companies are still grappling with the basics – how to implement it and ensure it’s safe, secure, and used with control. But forward-thinking companies are already looking several steps beyond. Applying GenAI in a different way could provide the blueprints for businesses to reinvent themselves, ushering in a future where innovation knows no bounds.