The Mind vs. Machine debate can be clearly seen in the world of writing, as many new applications seek to layer ‘AI content’ into the everyday business-writing process.
‘Business Writing’ can cover all layers of activities related to sales, from writing emails and blog posts, to drafting sales scripts and presentation ideas, to Marketing Agencies coming up with new ideas and copy for Ads.
Both sides of the debate are explored below, as we seek to find the Magic Middle between Mind & Machine going into the future.
Sales, AI & Business Writing
AI Writing Use Cases
Right now, the major “use case” AI-generated business writing is blog posts.
This has manifested with steep competition between a number of ‘AI Article Generators’ vying for a share of marketers, copywriters, and creatives looking for:
- a writing boost for new ideas
- efficiency to scale-up content production
- SEO alpha
There are other use cases emerging in software applications where ‘business writing’ happens (CRMs, automation engines), ones that will be blended more and more into the core product over time. This relatively small poll from @hubspot illustrates what these other applications might be:
Looking at Bard, Chat GPT, Grok, and other AI engines + wrappers being built on top of them, there are really no limits to what types of content could be created:
- sales scripts
- company presentations
- business proposals
Nevertheless, the limiting reagent in sales will relate to trust. As despite any new advancements in technology, humans will be the ones who make the decisions related to transacting.
Trust in AI Content
Only 26% of consumers trust content created by AI (May 2023), while 38% neither trust nor distrust it, with 36% outright distrusting it according to Hubspot.
This number may shift as time goes on and “AI Writing Tools” improve, but the general sentiment towards machine-generated content – oscillating between trust and distrust – will likely persist.
The goal of many professionals is thus to mask the content or to blend it into their own writing styles, a hybridization of sorts.
Salesforce research shows that 64% of of workers have passed off Generative AI work as their own. Further to that, 41% of workers would consider overstating their Generative AI skills to secure a work opportunity.
Right now, with the market in its infancy relative to both policy and prevalence, it is hard to say how the market will react to this. The efficiency vs. originality debate will likely be weighted against economics, especially with many businesses being forced to cut costs and downsize workforces.
But it might also create an “originality premium.’ Not just for those individuals who can verifiably write their own content (as evident by certain style factors, traction with humans, etc.) but for brands who abide by policies surrounding the ethics of the content they produce.
There is nothing inherently wrong with using AI-writing assistants for business purposes. The problems will happen around disclosures and passing off work that was predominantly machine-generated as a work of pure, mind-driven creation.
Nearly half of workers (47%) believe “mastering generative AI would make them more sought after in the workplace.” The demand is there, but the policies are not. This leads to a lot of experimentation and gray areas from which the market will evolve.
AI Content in Marketing Agencies
As of mid 2023, 51% of marketers were currently using Generative AI according to Salesforce. That number has likely increased since that time.
As we discussed last year, the Digital Agency Business Model is under a lot of stress and the inception of Generative AI adds further tension to the business model:
As it pertains to the Digital Agency model itself, the challenge with these technologies is that they decrease the marginal pricing power of a lot of average Agencies because tasks such as copywriting, or email creation, or product photography become less valuable.Digital Agency Business Model
Thus the brands who contract out from premium Marketing Agencies to help generate more sales will likely have some questions about how AI is incorporated into copy, branding, etc. as time progresses.
The top concerns for Marketers themselves with Generative AI according to Salesforce are:
- 31% – Quality & Accuracy
- 20% – Trust
- 19% – Skills
- 18% – Job Safefy
Similar to the workforce, the upside in Generative AI content outweighs the downside, but the downside risks will be enough to sink ships in certain situations. 53% in the marketing world believe Generative AI will be a “gamechanger.”
The ‘Magic Middle’ for AI in Business Writing
All factors combined, there is a certain inevitability to Generative AI’s transformative role in Business Writing. We can thus expect both increased market penetration and scrutiny.
That means there will be opportunities, from which we can surmise the ‘magic middle:’
If multiple professionals use AI as a ‘Creative Muse’ for content, and publish said content, the signature of that content will likely become increasingly more visible over time.
As consumers and brands wake up to that ‘machine signature,’ the risks will be high for those who attempt to pass off ideas that were generated by a machine as their own. “Detection” could be catastrophic in some cases.
Thus original ideas will shine through. Even in cases where such ideas are augmented using AI writing tools, their originality and conceptualization will not be in question.
Accuracy in Data
Many “facts” or data point generated in AI answers have been proven to be false. The technology is still in its infancy in many ways.
That means that all AI-based content will need to be checked by a human. Furthermore, the sources of the data will need to be cross validated.
Content across all business and sales functions increasingly relies on data and factual information to drive home marketing narratives; thus, critical thinking of where and how to layer data into AI-generated writing will be required.
Context, Prose, Insight
The very best writing weaves context into the heart of the reader’s experience, taking them on a journey through the subtlety, emotion, and ultimate importance of the moment.
The best writers are able to use their own prose to weave together all the factors in time that contribute towards how to make such weighty decisions related to business, whether it be for sales, marketing, finance, operations, etc.
Ultimately, a single insight can shift a business’s entire trajectory. Machines are not humans, and thus their ability to garner such sophisticated and nuanced insights will likely be trumped by human minds for the foreseeable future.
The Future of Generative AI for Business Writing
The inevitability of Generative AI entering business and essentially replacing workers, via proxy, is both intimidating and deflating.
Some businesses will use ‘tough economic times’ as an excuse to downsize towards chatbots and robots. Yet, others will see the potential of these applications in their earliest phases and understand how to harness the hybrid, magic middle of their potential.
The market will evolve rapidly and this very post may be obsolete in 6 months relative to where the market is at. Nevertheless, trust and accuracy will remain paramount, and the value of creativity and ingenuity will remain high.