"This is the worst AI will ever be, so focused are we on the present they can't see the future." - Donald Clark

Let’s pause and consider that statement for a moment...

Since its public release in October 2022, ChatGPT has rapidly become a widely recognized tool, freely available to everyone. In just 21 months, it has already made a significant impact, leaving many business owners wondering: how can I leverage this 21st-century technology to improve my showroom business?

Can AI benefit your business today? Yes.

Do you need to rush to implement it immediately to stay ahead of your competitors? No.

If you're still grappling with how to integrate AI into your business, kudos to you for taking the time to consider the best approach. However, rather than hastily jumping on the AI bandwagon, let's take a step back and carefully assess how your business can truly benefit in the long run from the advancements expected in AI in one month, 6 months and the next few years. Let's also collaborate with our showroom’s culture to ensure your team is equipped and enthusiastic to embrace AI in their daily work lives.

Amidst the flurry of offerings promising revolutionary AI solutions to streamline businesses, it's essential to maintain a level-headed approach. While these tools may tout grand promises of empowerment and competitive dominance, it's crucial not to be swept up in the hype. Two fundamental reasons underscore this caution.

Firstly, the rapid pace of AI development renders any long-term bet on a specific system precarious. This is not a time for an eclipse. The landscape is dynamic, with new advancements continually reshaping possibilities. Secondly, AI represents uncharted territory unlike anything seen before. There is no roadmap; instead, success hinges on understanding business needs, market demands, and exploring potential applications.

It's time to strap in and do the homework to prepare for what could be the next significant step for your business. However, rather than aiming for a single grand leap, success lies in consistently taking small, safe-to-fail steps. Through iterative exploration and adaptation, businesses can navigate the complexities of AI integration and pave the way for meaningful advancements.

And one more pause before we discuss your AI implementation plan. Artificial Intelligence is indeed an incredible tool, inspiring excitement in millions while simultaneously instilling fear in many. This wide spectrum of reactions can intensify our innate fear of change, potentially disrupting the cohesive culture of even the most high-functioning teams. That's why I recommend companies proceed cautiously, maintaining open communication channels and working diligently to address concerns and avoid unexpected challenges.

With AI becoming ubiquitous, your first step is to understand your company's AI IQ and how it influences their daily lives and business practices. Regardless of your company's size or structure, there are various approaches to gather this information. Whether through individual meetings with managers or by engaging an outside group, ensure to include everyone possible in face-to-face discussions. These meetings will offer invaluable insights into several key areas:

  • The current usage of AI among your employees;
  • Perceptions of AI, ranging from its helpfulness to concerns about job displacement;
  • Specific applications of AI currently in use, such as AI chatbots like ChatGPT, Gemini, Claude, Copilot, and others;
  • Preferences for AI tools and their suitability for your company's needs;
  • Identification of tasks where AI can enhance productivity and efficiency, both for employees and in serving customers

As you reflect on the wealth of information gathered from your team, you'll gain valuable insights into your company's AI IQ and its envisioned role in the near future. With this understanding firmly in hand, it's time to translate insights into action.

Empower your team by allowing them to actively engage with AI tools, gaining firsthand experience and insights into their effectiveness. Whether you opt for a standardized system or accommodate individual preferences, encourage exploration of how AI can optimize workflows and productivity. Throughout this process, regularly solicit feedback to understand the impact of AI on their work – identifying benefits, challenges, and areas for improvement.

This holistic approach lays the groundwork for integrating AI into your in-house support tools, tailored specifically to your decorative showroom's unique needs and objectives. By tapping into the collective wisdom of your team, you'll be primed to leverage AI effectively, enhancing both internal operations and customer expectations.

Moreover, successful AI implementation starts by prioritizing usability for your employees. Crafting tools with their needs in mind ensures effective use and lays a foundation for future updates and improvements, especially as AI continues to evolve rapidly. After all, an AI tool is only as good as its ease of use.

While our focus has been internal, it's crucial not to overlook the customer experience. Future discussions will explore strategies for leveraging the gathered data and collaborating with our partner showrooms and vendors to develop an enviable AI solution that meets both internal and customer needs seamlessly.

Lastly, remember to diligently save all gathered data for future reference. This information will serve as a valuable resource for ongoing analysis, refinement, and adaptation of your AI strategies.

In our next installment, we'll explore strategies for leveraging the gathered data and collaborating with our partner showrooms and vendors to develop an enviable AI solution that meets both internal and customer needs seamlessly.

A side note

A comment from John Schulman, OpenAI Cofounder, "It's a more specific persona where it's trying to be helpful. It's not trying to imitate a person. It's answering your questions or doing your tasks.”

It's important to remember that AI systems are fundamentally digital machines. While companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook may promote the idea of AI as intelligent companions, the reality is that we're not yet at a stage where AI can truly think and interact like humans. As B.F. Skinner aptly put it, "The question is not whether AI will think like humans, but whether humans will think like machines."

To maximize the effectiveness of interactions with AI, it's essential to speak its language - the language of bits and bytes. When communicating with AI, whether through questions, quizzes, or instructions, it's crucial to structure your inputs in a format that aligns with the binary nature of AI.

Ensure that your queries and commands are concise and structured, avoiding lengthy or convoluted sentences. By speaking the language of bits and bytes, you'll optimize the AI's ability to understand and process your inputs effectively.

Typical rambling instruction

"Hey AI, I'm looking to compile a comprehensive report on our sales performance for the past quarter. Could you please gather all relevant data from our sales database, including revenue figures, customer demographics, product sales trends, and any notable patterns or outliers? Once you've collected the data, analyze it to identify key insights and summarize your findings in a detailed report format, complete with charts and graphs for visual representation. Additionally, I'd like you to cross-reference this data with our marketing campaign metrics to assess the impact of our promotional efforts on sales performance. Finally, please ensure that the report is formatted in a professional manner and includes actionable recommendations for improving future sales strategies."

Simple and effective alternative

"AI, retrieve sales data for last quarter. Analyze for trends and anomalies. Summarize findings in report with visuals. Cross-reference with marketing data. Include actionable recommendations."

The alternative instruction is concise, direct, and focuses on the essential tasks without unnecessary elaboration. Each step is separated and concise. This format ensures clarity and efficiency in communicating with the AI.