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AI and Machine Learning

3 ways Gen AI will impact the way we work this year

February 14, 2024
Kristina Behr

Vice President, Product Management, Google Workspace

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Editorial note: This article originally appeared in Fast Company and has been edited for length.

Google Workspace’s Kristina Behr says businesses of all sizes—from mom-and-pop shops to global enterprises—will hone in on their top prompts to help improve everything from creating content for email marketing campaigns to drafting and refining customer support responses.

In 2024, generative Artificial Intelligence will grow to be a potential part of work at every small business, every team in a bigger company, and every individual worker. What does that mean for how we’ll work?

Since last year, we’ve seen people work with gen AI across our own products in Google Workspace. Sometimes it’s improving existing skills, as when writers smooth their work with a virtual editor, or designers brainstorm new ideas. Or sometimes it’s adding new skills to someone’s tool belt, like when a spreadsheet novice taps into AI to become a spreadsheet power user. 

There is a lot of technology innovation under the hood when it comes to generative AI, but what matters to solo business owners or employees at small businesses is the impact of the output and how well it frees up desperately needed time, keeps them on their best game, or improves customer interactions. This year, we’ll see the effects in three big ways.  

Multimodal AI models will improve SMB processes     

In 2024, we’ll start seeing the power of multimodal AI—that is, AI that understands information across text, images, video, and more—help propel organizations of all sizes, including small and medium-size businesses. 

Not only does it deliver more powerful results, but it offers the ability to work in several modalities at once. Results of a spreadsheet calculation might go in the content of an email, written with reference to previous customer interactions, for example, perhaps accompanied by an appropriate diagram or illustration.

It’s a benefit for organizations of all sizes, but especially for small businesses, where one person may be doing the job of many. For example, the owner of a local bike shop could get a photo from a customer about a problem, and multimodal AI will be able to understand the image and describe the problem. 

This is business AI as a kind of auxiliary capability, allowing customers to best represent themselves and their work by drawing on a diverse range of expressions. And, with the conversational interactions of AI attuned to how individuals work, people can sharpen their internal and customer communications for a more personal touch. 

SMBs will hone in on their top prompts

The two most important things about gen AI in the workplace are how people work with it, and how it works with people.

In 2024, businesses of all sizes—from mom-and-pop shops to global enterprises—will hone in on their top prompts to help improve everything from creating content for email marketing campaigns to drafting and refining customer support responses. 

For a small business, this might be crafting a customer email that presents a special offer, talks about previous purchases, and evokes a voice that accurately represents what’s special about working with this provider. Or perhaps it’s drafting or refining the content or monthly newsletters, or even suggesting a response to an unanswered email from a vendor. 

Here are a few tips for prompt writing to help deliver more helpful results:  

  • Use natural language

  • Be clear and concise

  • Provide context

  • Use specific and relevant keywords

  • Break down complex tasks into separate prompts

Collaborating with Gen AI will become a new must-have rhythm at work

One of the most striking things about gen AI is that it’s a natural interaction with exceptionally powerful computation. You talk or type a prompt, and in the background millions of computer interactions deliver what you need in the blink of an eye. Ideally, gen AI products should get better over time, securely and privately working with people and their data to help them create, communicate, and collaborate better. 

In 2024, we’ll see even more powerful dialogs with people and gen AI, as machines get better and people ease into the rhythm of this new type of working. Unlike many previous types of writing and productivity applications, much activity will happen within the flow of creation, perhaps with suggestions that hasten work, or open up new workflows or processes that were previously unknown. 

Equally, AI is getting better at reading situational needs inside a business, and will be able to suggest the highest-value workflows it can invoke in a given moment. These conditions might be at a meeting, where it might offer to summarize the conversation and send that to an interested party. It might be in personal work, where it can suggest which tool or image to work with while designing a new offering.

Gen AI gets its power from data, so the most powerful expressions will likely come from cloud-based services where privacy and security are built-in versus legacy applications that store data on laptops with files shared as attachments without access controls. Cloud-based systems have the power to change the working world with suggestions that are personalized and relevant, and leverage the context of your work, such as emails or files stored in the Cloud in a way that respects your privacy. 

The real dialog, however, the one that matters most, is between you and your colleagues, your company, and your customers. I’m excited for all that’s in store for you, the users who will benefit from generative AI in 2024 and beyond. 

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