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Obsessed with AI: Corporate America Can't Get Enough, but Should They?

Updated: Feb 21

If you've read an annual report or a quarterly statement from a major corporation recently, you've probably stumbled across these two magical letters: "AI," aka Artificial Intelligence. AI has become everyone's favorite buzzword. You might be asking, is AI the modern-day magic wand or the emperor's new clothes? Let's dive deeper.

Chart of companies using AI
Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/08/24/ai-corporate-hype/

Riding the AI Wave: "It's Like the Internet All Over Again!"

Remember the late '90s, when every business wanted a piece of the "World Wide Web"? Fast-forward to today, and AI is the belle of the technology ball. Tech executives and venture capitalists are comparing AI to the advent of electricity and the internet. Even politicians are getting in on the action, scrambling to draft regulations to keep up with this ever-expanding field.


Is the AI Party Over Already?

Some signs indicate that the AI boom might be slowing down. The number of users for generative AI tools like ChatGPT has seen a decline in recent months. Venture capitalists, who were once funding any startup with 'AI' in its pitch deck, are now a bit more cautious. Building a profitable AI start-up, it turns out, is neither easy nor cheap. So, are we already past peak AI? Hard to say, but the caution tape is up.


"We Use AI Too!" – Every Company Ever

Ulta Beauty uses AI for virtual try-ons. Fidelity employs it to detect fraud. Alaska Air uses it for more fuel-efficient flight paths. Heck, even Yum China Holdings is hopping on the AI train to connect online orders to their KFC and Pizza Hut stores more efficiently. If AI were a celebrity, it would be booked solid for years.


But here's where things get tricky. Joseph Fuller from Harvard Business School notes that AI has become a "suitcase term." Translation: companies are stuffing all sorts of things into the AI suitcase and slapping a label on it. "Look, it's AI!" they proclaim, but is it really?


The AI Labeling Game

We're not saying companies are fibbing, but let's just say some are "creatively reinterpreting" their tech. Georgia Tech Professor Mark Riedl notes that companies have started rebranding existing technologies under the AI umbrella.


Got a simple algorithm for automated emails? Why not call it an AI-powered customer engagement system? It's not lying; it's marketing!


Beyond the Buzz: AI's Real Impact

AI's potential impact can't be dismissed entirely. It's not just chatbots and image generators; AI aids financial institutions in detecting fraud, and much more. But as with any technology, AI comes with its share of risks and challenges, such as regulatory hurdles that could upend business models.


To Be or Not To Be: That Is the AI Question

Everyone wants to be in the AI space or, at least, talk about it. The hype is unmistakable, Kathryn Rooney Vera, chief market strategist at StoneX, sums it up well: "There's a lot of excitement with regard to the role AI will play in the economy going forward."


So, is AI a modern-day elixir that will cure all our woes, or is it an overhyped trend that could fizzle out? We'll have to wait and see. For now, one thing is certain: nobody wants to miss out on the AI party, whether it's the toast of the decade or the hangover of the century.


Racheal Williams, PMP-certified project manager and AI Prompt Engineering specialist, is the founder of My AI Courses. We empower busy professionals with advanced AI skills. Join our AI Course here.

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