Let’s Eat AI for Breakfast: A roundtable round-up

  • July 26, 2023
  • Reading time: 4 min

As B2B marketers, we’re not above wiling around the hours in the LinkedIn comment echo chamber – particularly when something as seismic as the emergence of Generative AI happens. 

But sometimes, it’s nice to bring together some clever people in an actual room and have a thoughtful discussion about a big topic. (A big stack of breakfast pastries never goes amiss, either.) 

To that end, we invited six valued OG clients to our recent roundtable: Let’s Eat AI for Breakfast. After settling down with our coffees, we turned our attention to the AI hype cycle, talent concerns, regulatory issues, and more. 

Hype and bandwagons

We kicked off by discussing the AI hype cycle (are we already at peak AI influencer?) and noodled on how “AI” is often used loosely and sometimes misapplied. Many clients whose technology actually uses machine learning emphasised the need to distinguish between this and, say, ChatGPT. 

Several attendees observed the rapid rebranding of technology previously not described as AI by companies. In some cases, this is a genuine and justified shift – the market now feels more confident that the general public understands AI, so companies can describe their tech in those terms accordingly. In other instances, it’s a bit of a stretch… there’s certainly some ‘jumping-on-the-bandwagon’ occurring. 

On the bright side: we all agreed that, unlike the Metaverse, the hype around AI is probably warranted. As one attendee put it: ‘It’s totally different and far more sticky, because it’s a tool you use, not a place you go to’. 

The pitfalls

At this point, it’s hardly worth mentioning that everyone’s worried about drowning in a sea of crap B2B content. The impact of AI on teams, juniors and development was fresher ground for debate. 

As one attendee noted, Generative AI is a fantastic tool for many time-consuming tasks, like analyzing large datasets quickly and efficiently. But this individual only felt safe doing that because they had twenty years of experience, so they could rigorously interrogate the output. There’s a real risk that over-reliance on Generative AI during early career stages could lead to skills degradation, with early-career employees failing to hone valuable skills. 

There were also concerns about the reliance on AI in critical decision-making processes, like relying on AI-generated insights. Everyone stressed the need to have checks and balances in place to mitigate potential errors and ensure accurate decision-making.

The opportunities 

Concern and caution are important for all as we navigate this brave new world. But our guests were equally excited about the wide-reaching opportunities presented by Generative AI, whether that’s making efficiency gains in marketing, improving attribution models or even creating new customer experiences. 

Across the board, ‘producing content’ wasn’t actually the number one use case for Generative AI. But it can be handy, particularly when you’re working with a lean team. For one guest with limited budget and resources, Generative AI has been transformative in producing the drumbeat of content needed to keep pace. Training the model carefully with a good steer on your tone of voice is key here, enabling marketers to ‘get to the good part’ quickly. 

A major opportunity was in research, insight and technical understanding. One client was using ChatGPT to get to grips with a particularly tricky topic, so they could produce compelling content off the back of it. Another was using it for heavy data analysis – and finding that the insights and conclusions it drew were as useful as human analysis. 

The agency / client relationship

The elephant in the AI room, obviously, is how this impacts the client/agency relationship. Clients understandably want to understand if agencies are cutting the time spent on work – and if they can reduce costs accordingly. 

There’s a clear need for agencies to be more transparent about how they price; to clarify exactly the hours they spend on work and when they’re using AI; to prove the value this adds; and to ensure confidential information or proprietary data is protected. But the room on the whole agreed that while agencies might make some time savings on routine work, the genuine ambition is to pour those hours back into the thing that delivers the most value: creativity and connections, particularly in the world of PR. 

Where next?

So; what now? Will we see agencies dedicated to AI? Will clients sack off their agencies altogether, and hand the whole lot over to ChatGPT and Dall-E? 

Probably not. As one attendee put it: the rapid explosion of Generative AI ‘thought leaders’ in marketing has parallels with the emergence of “social media experts” in 2006. In the years that followed, many expert social media shops sprang into life – but the broad trend has been moving back to a more integrated model.

In a similar vein, nobody around the table was too interested in the idea of ‘AI-first agencies’. It’s far from an original comment to make at this point, but one more time for the people at the back… AI is most valuable when it’s a tool, not a replacement. 

Any questions?

As we said at the start: it’s delightful to actually get around a table and chat, instead of existing in a digital echo chamber. And, as well as some interesting perspectives, our roundtable gave us an important reminder: no matter how smart technology gets, there’s something about gathering human brains around the table for a nice chat that just can’t be beat. 

Whether you’re a client, an industry colleague or simply curious about OG’s stance on all things AI: feel free to get in touch with our AI leads, Toby, Nic and Matt. 

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