AI: Promise or Hype?

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July 26, 2023

6 mins read

Gabe on GTM Feature

AI: Promise or Hype?

Part 2 of a 2-part series on Coming Sea Changes

In part one of this series, I talked about two coming sea changes that I believe will fundamentally alter our world as we know it. The first post focused on “Buying Groups: As big as the shift from leads to accounts.” In today’s post, let’s turn our attention to artificial intelligence (AI), which is emerging as the most transformative technology to hit the world since the internet. 

Let me start by saying what this blog is not going to cover. We’re not going to explore whether AI is good or bad, whether it’s going to take your job or take over the world. I firmly believe that AI has the potential to do much good, to usher in unprecedented innovation and help us find solutions to the biggest, hairiest challenges we face, like finding remedies to “incurable” diseases, and a path forward in our battle with climate change. 

But not all applications of artificial intelligence will be useful or even real. Just as the early days of the dot-com era saw big winners and epic failures, the AI industry will experience a similar boom and bust driven by a host of visionary and me-too companies. Our job is to sift out the bad ideas and champion the truly transformative applications.

So how do we separate the promise from the hype? We need to ask ourselves these three questions.  

Is it real?

Seemingly overnight everyone is talking about AI. It’s as if we went to bed one night not thinking about AI and woke up the next morning to a world demanding that we use it. In knee-jerk fashion, companies are scrambling to figure out how to add AI to their product mix, while Investors are asking, “What are you doing about AI?”

This will result in companies building AI apps just to say they’re doing AI, or worse, simply claiming to use AI for its marketing value. Most of these use cases will lead nowhere.  

If you want to know whether an ‘AI app’ is real, dig behind the marketing claims to see if there’s any differentiation. Is the technology really powered by AI? Was the AI necessary? Did it make the offering better? Or is it marketing fluff or something that will be free in Gmail or Outlook?

If it’s more than an empty claim, then consider whether the AI offering fits into the company’s long-term strategy. If yes, it’s probably real. If not, it’s likely a frivolous one-off tactic that’s doomed to go the way of internet victims, Pets.com and WebVan.com. Remember them? Exactly!

Does AI empower humans?

This is the question of utmost importance. Because robots talking to robots will not lead to better businesses or a better world. AI’s value is not in replacing humans, or even having humans “in the loop” to prompt and direct the AI, it’s in empowering humans with new tools to do more and greater things, as every other technology advance has done. People have to be at the center of AI use cases to unleash its greatest potential.

We know that artificial intelligence excels at processing and analyzing data and it can handle repetitive tasks, freeing up humans to focus on what only they can do best. But here’s the rub. There are, and will be more, AI apps that will save us time — help us write emails, create written and graphic content, wade through massive amounts of data in an instant — and these are all good. Yet the real promise of AI, the promise that gets me fired up, is that AI has the power to help us achieve our goals, dreams, and aspirations more effectively, in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without AI.

Let’s embrace AI to save us time and expose wondrous insights, but then let’s also resolve to use that freed up time and the new insights we gain to solve crushing human challenges and take humanity to new heights. Therein lies the promise of AI. 

Can it be trusted?

I would be remiss if I left this out. If AI is going to transform the world, as I believe it will — or rather, the humans using it will — it’s essential that the AI can be trusted. 

We’re all familiar with the saying, ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ Well it’s doubly true for artificial intelligence. We cannot blindly trust every output or recommendation presented by an AI app. The output is only as reliable as the data it relies upon. So if you’re relying on AI to accomplish a task, to point you in the right direction, or give you insights to power your vision, make sure you understand and trust the data behind the scenes. 

If it’s a black box that prevents you from seeing the data and logic used by the AI models, beware! 

If you’re building your own AI models and apps, consider whether you trust the quality of your data, and make sure you have enough of the right kinds of data. Deep learning models require enormous volumes and variety of data to train and hone them over time. Check out this post by our CMO Jon Miller to learn more about that. 

If you’re unsure about the quality of your data or need to augment it with more types of data, Demandbase can help. We offer rich, AI-validated B2B company and people data, including firmographics, contact data, intent, technographics, engagement data, and more. Companies use our data every day to inform their go-to-market decisions, to feed their data lakes, and fuel their AI models. We’d be happy to connect with you and talk about your data needs. 

Data quality has always been important to drive sound decisions, and it’s also been notoriously hard to maintain. Partner with a trusted data provider. It’s more critical now than ever.

I’ll close with this. Demandbase has been harnessing the power of AI for years. We use it to score leads and accounts, identify intent and technographic data, manage advertising bids, validate data, and power our predictive models. We’ve recently introduced Buying Group AI, and we’re on a mission to deliver outcome-based advertising and a self-driving go-to-market (GTM) platform. All to make your lives simpler and more productive. None of this would be possible without seizing upon the power of AI. We’ve been poised for this moment, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about the future that lies ahead.

As always, I’m eager to hear your thoughts. Reach out to me at GabeGTM@demandbase.com and share your ideas on how AI will reshape our world.

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Gabe Rogol

CEO, Demandbase

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