Harvard Business School A.I. guru on why every Main Street shop should start using ChatGPT


The sudden rise of artificial intelligence generating has led to billions being invested by the largest technology companies around the globe. Every small business can start using gen A.I. for $20 per month. use that may ultimately prove to be a difference maker in the cost of their operations and the scale of the company they want to grow.

That’s the message from Karim Lakhani, a Harvard Business School professor who has been studying technology for 30 years and says the oldest adage about AI in computer science will be as true on Main Street as it is in Silicon Valley.

“Machines won’t replace humans, but humans with machines will replace humans without machines,” Lakhani said at CNBC’s Small Business Playbook virtual event on Wednesday.

For small business owners, Lakhani said, the AI journey should begin by looking across three platforms: OpenAI’s ChatGPT+ (which can be purchased for $20 a month), Microsoft’s Bing Chat (which is free) and Poe, which offers access to a variety of gen AI tools. Starting to experiment with these tools will quickly show small business owners the power that AI offers to their core tasks.

OpenAI with Microsoft – Bing seen on mobile, seen in this photo illustration.

Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

He cited three areas in particular:

All consumer contact.

  1. As a thought partner for new business ideas.
  2. As a “super assistant” being able to handle much of the “drudgery” owners face alone today.
  3. While there has been criticism of gen AI for “hallucinations,” i.e., inaccurate results in search, Lakhani said business owners should not be distracted by this. This is a real problem, but not one that will affect how small business owners use the tools. It was expensive to hire translators for email and text campaigns. Now they had this superpower,” he said. Now they had this superpower,” he said.

The same business logic is true for an e-commerce vendor on a platform like Shopify looking to translate a website into multiple languages for other markets, which could be costly with traditional translation services.

AI and handling irate customers

Small business owners can take irate customer emails that need to be addressed and ask ChatGPT for options on how to best handle, and have a series of bullet points ready to go to calm down the customers. Lakhani stated that ChatGPT would provide options. He said that allowing workers to use ChatGPT would help with all marketing copy. ChatGPT will make the process more efficient and effective, he added. It is like thinking with you. “

And that should be extended to gen AI image generation tools too, such as Midjourney, DALL-E, and Stability AI.

Ultimately, Lakhani says, AI will prove critical to three keys for business success: scaling, scoping and continually learning. The question is how to serve more customers, create more products and services, and keep learning. “The operating model, how you deliver value, can be supercharged,” he said.

Where to begin AI learning

The place to start, according to Lakhani, is YouTube.

“YouTube is your friend. YouTube is your friend, says Lakhani. … I’ve been spending a lot of time on YouTube. Great creators spend their time thinking of problems and solutions using ChaGPT and Gen AI. Build a crash-course on YouTube. The key to success is to get started and start practicing. He said that you need to know how to use it and its benefits as well as its limitations. He said that ChatGPT was never angry with him for changing his mind or asking it 10 million questions. But having an AI become a thought partner can only occur through practice, and unlike big businesses encumbered by bureaucracies, small businesses have the advantage of being nimble and being able to start on this AI journey without any friction or delay.

“ChatGPT is the Ironman suit,” Lakhani said. “Tony Stark’s not a super-hero or god. He is a mere human being. Gen AI and AI tools are able to do this for each worker. This is your AI powersuit. He said that a team of 10 could have a 1,000-footprint.