June 11, 2020: OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company based in San Francisco, releases an API to access its latest artificial intelligence system, GPT-3, shaking up the tech world with its capabilities. That same day and after several failed attempts with delivery apps, my aunt (60) finds the perfect way to order groceries: snapping a picture of a handwritten list and sending it to a nearby merchant, via WhatsApp.
In the spring of 2020, companies around the world finally understood what "digital transformation" stood for as most customer interactions became mediatized (or "digitalized") due to social distancing and lockdowns. Suddenly, those who didn't have a distribution/transaction digital platform needed one, and those who couldn't deliver their product or service over remote, began to falter. On top of this, a generation with enormous purchasing power found itself unable to transact, using interfaces that were never really meant for them. We woke up and the dinosaur was still there, asking for the Wi-Fi password to FaceTime with her family. "Every company is now a tech company," and even harder to grasp: every company is now an AI company (or will do... or will disappear).
The digital transformation happened while we were "busy making other plans [John Lennon]." Because even though the SAR-CoV-2 pandemic and it's ripple effects throughout the world have shaped the human narrative for months now, 2020 will also be remembered for another acronym and another paradigm shift: GPT-3, a novel AI platform whose potential is yet to be fully grasped. If the computer is a "bicycle for the mind," according to the late Steve Jobs, this AI is a motorbike.
GPT-3 (Generative Pretrained Transformer-3) is a task-agnostic language model that was trained on 175 billion parameters (basically, all text available on the internet) and thanks to that, achieves human-like mastery of language as it is naturally spoken. Even though it's limitations are well-known and acknowledged by its developers, GPT-3 represents a leap forward in the massification of AI in our everyday lives. It can write poems, creative prose, SQL queries and even functioning React apps (yes, it can code very decently). You just have to ask him in plain English, as if you were texting a coworker. There are more use cases for GPT-3 coming every day and it has the potential to become not only the new "App Store," but also the new "Excel." It can be your designer, front-end developer, legal clerk, DBA, secretary and venture capitalist (still without the money). It can even tweet about...
“Marketing is seduction, but it’s hard to seduce someone when you’re not interested in them.”
"Robert Frost once said that poetry is what gets lost in translation. Applied, analytic value probably is lost in a good 200 companies in Silicon Valley today.”
“If you are competing for money, you are racing to transform an ant into a butterfly.”
“Attention is the new scarce resource. Platforms that master that will rule the world.”
“Without perpetuating it, a word is dead.”
Think about every activity that consists of listening, speaking or coding upon a known body of knowledge and it certainly will be performed by an AI in the near future. This doesn't only mean that the days of call centers/chatbots/interns are over and that Fiverr freelancers will need to step up their game; it means that every customer-facing role will be rewritten in the next five years and every customer-facing company with them. Startups will rise on unsuspected verticals and solid, well-run companies will fall. It's no longer about size or speed, it's about what you focus your efforts on.
Customer centricity that fosters loyalty through efficient logistics/product delivery is what success looks like in a world where every interaction is mediatized, subject to measurement and improvement, all enabled by first-party data about every touchpoint with the customer. The pandemic accelerated 10 years of e-commerce adoption, but maybe AI will help us catch up. Companies need to become serious about acquiring, protecting and leveraging customer data in order to stay ahead of already-established digital companies that have redefined traditional industries, such as Amazon, Netflix and Uber.
Imagine a world where you wake up and your meals, packages and calls are already scheduled according to your calendar. You work on solving the tricky parts of your code or business memo and leave the tedious parts to an AI-enabled writing assistant. You go on a stroll to your favorite café and your latte is already waiting for you at the perfect temperature. You go to a "cloud-mall" to try some new shoes, buy them with your voice and they're already in your house when you arrive. Turn on the TV and surf through movie recommendations tailored to your mood. Science-fiction as it sounds, this will be common for a lot of people in 2025.
At Klustera, we've enabled some of the best performing companies in Latin America and the Middle East to fully accelerate their omnichannel efforts by measuring user activity in the real world (store visits, other places visited, customer persona) and correlating it to already-owned data (like CRM, transactional or data lakes). We measure nine out of 10 users in a physical space and process gargantuan amounts of data, so you only receive what's relevant to your strategy analysis and workflows via a dashboard and an API in real time. Measuring your customer across different moments and channels is key to increasing loyalty and truly owning the customer, instead of relying on third-party platforms.
*Thanks to GPT-3 for helping write parts of this article.