Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI in Action: A Pragmatic Approach to AI in Business Insights from Industry Leaders

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to reshape the business landscape, leaders with a forward-thinking approach are eager to leverage its potential. On March 27, 2024, Magnetude Consulting hosted a compelling panel discussion titled ‘AI in Action: A Pragmatic Approach for Forward-Thinking Leaders’ at the Weston Art & Innovation Center. The event united leaders from various businesses with a panel of industry veterans and thought leaders in sales, marketing, human resources, cybersecurity, and tech, who shared practical insights and real-world applications of AI that can be directly applied to business.

The panel, led by a true leader of AI in business, Luis I. Cortes, Head of Marketing & Sales Programs at Red Hat, BOD of MyEO, and leader of the AI Group, featured a lineup of industry stalwarts. These included Rob Black, CEO and founder of Fractional CISO; Karen Walker Beecher, esteemed Advisor and Board Member; Kathy Yenke, Founder and CEO of Sales Catalyst Solutions; and Natalie Nathanson, the Founder and CEO of Magnetude Consulting.

Here are some of the highlights from this engaging discussion:

How will AI Affect Work?

During his introduction, Luis I. Cortes referenced an MIT study1 that explored the impact of generative AI on employment. The study found that individuals who work with generative AI experience significant time savings, with productivity improvements ranging from 20 to 70 percent for specific tasks. AI can free up valuable time for employees to focus on more strategic tasks. Interestingly, the study also revealed that AI reduces inequality in the workplace. While expert employees work faster with AI, junior employees work faster and produce better quality output, narrowing the gap between junior and senior employees. This shows that AI can potentially level the playing field and empower all employees to perform at higher levels. Additionally, the study showed that AI leads to less work and effort, helps overcome writer’s block, and improves overall job satisfaction, as people enjoy having an assistant to help them with their tasks. These findings highlight the transformative potential of AI in your business.

The Importance of Experimentation and Learning

One key takeaway from the event was the importance of experimentation and learning in the AI journey. The panelists emphasized the need for individuals and organizations to embrace AI, allowing employees to explore and unlock its potential.

“[I have been] encouraging people to really use it for personal reasons. And I think the stakes are a lot lower on the personal side in a lot of cases. I’ve used it for medical advice, gardening, and cooking. And again, with that multiplying effect, I want to do this, but not that. So, things that you can’t do with Google, and I think that starts to open people’s eyes to what’s possible.” – Natalie Nathanson

Quality Control in AI Implementation

The panelists also highlighted the significance of quality control when implementing AI. Karen Walker Beecher shared her experience from her online art auction business in ensuring that AI-generated content undergoes proper review and editing before publication.

“The AI output is actually in a separate section, so it doesn’t automatically populate what gets published. If someone just cuts and pastes what AI produces, if it’s an exact replica and there’s been no editing, it gets an automatic flag, so it gets reviewed.” – Karen Walker Beecher.

“I’m a big believer in AI plus HI [(human intelligence)]. Because right now everyone is worried about their jobs being displaced, but you have to have human intelligence to go along with it. You can’t just take it for granted that way.”

AI Model Training for Improved Performance

Rob Black and Luis I. Cortes shared valuable insights on model training during the event, emphasizing the importance of high-quality, diverse data and the potential risks associated with using public AI interfaces.

Black highlighted the challenge of curating the correct training data, as outdated or irrelevant information can lead to suboptimal AI performance. He suggests that organizations carefully select the most appropriate and up-to-date data to ensure their AI models are trained effectively.

Cortes advised caution when using public AI interfaces, as the data entered could be used to train models without the user’s explicit consent. He recommends utilizing specific settings or options to prevent the AI from using the provided algorithms or data for training purposes.

Moreover, Cortes stressed the significance of data diversity in model training, noting that if most of the documents used for training are similar, the AI may learn less effectively and accurately to represent reality. He suggests focusing on documents distinct from the rest and ensuring the content is varied and representative of the desired outcomes.

By considering these insights, organizations can develop more effective strategies for model training, ultimately leading to more accurate and reliable AI performance.

Ethical Considerations in AI Use

Another important aspect discussed was the ethical considerations surrounding AI use in business. The panelists emphasized the need for organizations to use AI responsibly and ethically, recognizing its potential impact on society. The cybersecurity industry, in particular, is one area where we’re seeing a lot of non-ethical AI innovations (hackers leveraging AI for nefarious purposes), but ethics in AI are not limited to criminal activity.

“Today, AI is just going to help you do things better. For an ethical organization they’re probably just going to do ethical things better. For a non-ethical organization, they’re going to be doing less ethical things.” – Rob Black.

Real-World Applications of AI

Throughout the event, the panelists provided practical examples of how AI has transformed various functional areas of their businesses, including sales, marketing, human resources, and cybersecurity.

Marketing: Natalie Nathanson shared her experience utilizing AI for content development: “We’ve had good success with utilizing custom GPTs, where we’re programming ChatGPT to do very specific functions within the content development realm.”

Cybersecurity: Rob Black demonstrated how AI can save time in drafting procedures and answering security questionnaires through pre-built prompts and information training. “Claude does a great job in drafting it.” However, the output needs to be altered to apply the processes, philosophies, and guardrails that pertain to the business case.

Sales: Kathy Yenke highlighted AI’s role in sales processes, such as sales playbooks, documentation, and competitive analysis, which are made easy. “On the sales side, understanding who your customer is and pre-writing scripts will give you information on the different aspects of how to sell to certain people.”

Human Resources: Karen Walker Beecher shared an example of using AI for talent acquisition: “It’s definitely getting much better as we’re able to tag skills to jobs.” She noted an example from a biotech recruiting company. “If you think about biotech companies, you may be looking for someone with stage 2 experience, small molecule, and things like that, but by scraping LinkedIn, you’re not going to find that information. The way to find it is knowing, based upon the companies the person has worked for, what stage of development they were in when they were there, and what types of therapies they were working on.”

Applying AI to Your Business

When asked about the advice they would give businesses in the early stages of integrating AI into their operations, each panelist offered the following insights:

Natalie Nathanson:

  • Recognize that AI integration is a change management component at both the company and individual levels.
  • Encourage people to use AI for personal reasons to build comfort and familiarity with the technology.
  • Implement an “AI-first week” where employees try using AI in their work to build comfort and familiarity.
  • Maintain extra rigor in quality control practices, as AI-generated content may contain inaccuracies or “hallucinations.”

Karen Walker Beecher:

  • Embrace AI and find ways to automate work in every department and skill set, as those who ignore AI risk being left behind.
  • Start small, even if it’s just a minor win, and ensure that success influences other areas of the organization.

Kathy Yenke:

  • Focus on achieving a successful case, no matter how small, and ensure that success influences different parts of the organization.
  • Have fun with AI and encourage teams to ask questions and learn from the technology, even if the initial results are imperfect.

Rob Black:

  • Choose a low-stakes internal project to insist that a group or set of people create content with AI, as this will demonstrate the technology’s time-saving potential.
  • Apply extra rigor if the AI-generated content is a customer deliverable, treating it as an input to the process rather than a final product.
  • Encourage team members to use AI for personal tasks to see how it can improve their everyday lives.

AI and Content Creation

As the event concluded, Luis I. Cortes remarked on the future of AI in business, emphasizing its potential to democratize content creation and empower individuals. He noted that AI tools are becoming increasingly accessible, allowing anyone to create high-quality content and assets that were previously only possible for large organizations with significant resources.

Cortes stated, “I think there’s a point in which all these tools are going to help democratize people’s ability to create content. So now everybody’s a creator.”

He elaborated on AI’s potential impact on content creation, drawing parallels to the revolutionary changes brought about by the Internet and digitalization. Just as the Internet drastically reduced the cost of content distribution, AI has the potential to lower the cost of content creation significantly.

However, Cortes also emphasized that while AI may democratize content creation, the quality and human touch will remain crucial factors in standing out amidst the noise. As AI becomes more prevalent, the ability to create unique, engaging, and emotionally resonant content will be a key differentiator for businesses and individuals alike.

The Transformative Potential of AI in Business

As AI advances and integrates into various aspects of business, its potential to drive transformative change becomes increasingly evident. Luis I. Cortes encapsulated this sentiment during the event when he stated, “People like having an assistant; people like using aesthetic knowledge. And that’s something that we’re experiencing every day in the business.”

This quote highlights the growing acceptance and appreciation of AI assistants in the workplace, as they provide support, efficiency, and access to specialized knowledge. Integrating AI tools is becoming more common in daily business operations as organizations recognize their numerous benefits.

One of AI’s most significant positive impacts is the time savings and increased productivity it enables. By automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, streamlining processes across various business functions, and facilitating faster content creation and analysis, AI allows employees to focus on higher-value activities that require human creativity and critical thinking.

AI has the potential to improve decision-making by providing data-driven insights, enhancing forecasting and predictive capabilities, and enabling more informed hiring decisions. This can lead to better strategic planning, resource allocation, and talent acquisition, ultimately driving business growth and success.

AI can enhance customer engagement by helping personalize marketing campaigns, improving lead generation, and better understanding customer needs and preferences. This enables businesses to deliver more targeted and effective marketing messages, build stronger customer relationships, and ultimately increase sales and revenue.

AI also has the power to revolutionize sales processes by automating lead scoring, generating sales scripts and playbooks, and providing competitive analysis and market insights. These capabilities can help sales teams be more efficient, effective, and data-driven in their approach, leading to improved sales performance and customer satisfaction.

AI can help detect and prevent cyber threats more effectively, enhance risk assessment and management, and improve privacy and data protection measures. As cyber threats evolve and become more sophisticated, AI-powered security solutions will become increasingly critical in safeguarding business assets and sensitive data.

AI has the potential to drive innovation and provide a competitive advantage by enabling the development of new products and services, facilitating process improvements, and creating opportunities for differentiation in the market. As AI capabilities become more accessible to businesses of all sizes, it can level the playing field and empower smaller organizations to compete with larger enterprises.

AI can streamline talent acquisition and recruitment processes, enhance employee engagement and retention strategies, and enable better alignment between employees and company culture. Businesses can build more robust, diverse, and productive teams by leveraging AI-powered tools and insights.

Finally, AI enables continuous learning and improvement by facilitating the analysis of large volumes of data, optimizing AI models and algorithms, and adapting to changing business needs and market conditions. As organizations embrace AI and integrate it into their operations, they can foster a culture of innovation, agility, and data-driven decision-making.

The transformative potential of AI in business is vast and far-reaching. By embracing AI tools and strategies, organizations can unlock new efficiency, productivity, and innovation levels, ultimately positioning themselves for long-term success in an increasingly competitive and dynamic business landscape.

Watch the entire panel discussion here or learn more about Magnetude’s view on AI in B2B marketing.


About Magnetude Consulting

Magnetude is a B2B marketing firm that pioneered the fractional marketing approach for small—to medium-sized tech-related businesses. The firm offers a wide range of strategic and execution-focused marketing services that seamlessly dovetail into client growth goals.

The company specializes in growth strategy consulting and fractional marketing department services, including marketing strategy, messaging, branding, websites, content development, digital marketing, demand generation, sales and channel enablement, and brand visibility.

Magnetude services clients across the globe and brings specialized expertise in areas including cybersecurity, big data/AI, SaaS products, B2B professional services, and emerging and established technology-related products and services.

About the speakers:

Luis I. Cortes

Head of Marketing & Sales Programs – Red Hat

Board of Directors of the Boston Chapter of Entrepreneurs” Organization (EO)

Leader of the MyEO AI Group

Rob Black, CISSP

CEO & Founder, Fractional CISO

Karen Walker Beecher

Advisor, Board Member

Kathy Yenke

Founder & CEO – Sales Catalyst Solutions

Fractional/Interim CRO

Natalie Nathanson

Founder & CEO – Magnetude Consulting

1Experimental Evidence on the Productivity Effects of Generative Artificial Intelligence Shakked Noy Whitney Zhang MIT March 2,2023 Working Paper (not peer-reviewed)