Which of us hasn’t spent hours toying with the mind-blowing ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that’s already become the hottest tech of 2023? But far from being a waste of work time, the GPT-3 language model that powers ChatGPT is already a well-established business tool that could make a huge difference to your company.
From making your business communications more professional, to rapidly analysing what your customers think of your products, to documenting code changes for your software developers, there’s an enormous range of ways in which GPT-3 can be put to work. Better still, you don’t need coding skills to take advantage of it. In fact, you can get GPT-3 to write code on your behalf!
Here’s how your business can take advantage of GPT-3 right now.
The OpenAI approach
Your business can tap the same AI power that’s used to deliver ChatGPT by signing up for an account on the OpenAI website. You can literally be up and running in minutes. There’s no waitlist, no account approval. You even get a slice of free credit to see what the AI can do (we’ll come back to the charging model shortly).
Once you’ve signed up for an account, you’ll notice that there’s a lot more features available here than you’ll get from ChatGPT. You can experiment with lots of these in OpenAI’s Playground, where you can select from the many different presets that are on offer. These presets include parsing unstructured data, converting natural language commands into Python code, summarising huge chunks of text and loads more.
However, the real power comes with access to the API. This allows you to write your own apps or take advantage of third-party tools that interact with GPT-3. You might, for example, create an AI assistant to answer questions from customers on your company’s website. You can even train the AI on your own company data, helping to ensure that the answers that it delivers are relevant to your individual business.
Unlike ChatGPT, access to the GPT-3 API isn’t free. However, it’s not as expensive as you might think to bring this powerful AI capability into your business. We don’t have space to go into great detail on the charging model here, but GPT-3 is basically a pay-what-you-use scheme – the more data you ask the AI to analyse or deliver, the more you’re charged. But a simple text query that delivers an answer in a line or two of text will cost a tiny fraction of a penny.
We have one key tip when it comes to billing. You must dive into the account settings and set spending limits, at least until your familiar with the ‘token’ charging model. This will prevent a nasty case of bill shock. If you hit your spending limit, the AI simply stops working until you grant it more funds.
What can GPT-3 do for businesses?
Entire books have been written on what GPT-3 can do for businesses, so we can’t hope to do justice to its full range of capabilities here. But a good place to start is the examples that OpenAI provides to Playground users.
Writes professional copy
At the more basic end of the scale, GPT-3 is hugely adept at writing in a professional manner. Whether you need promotional copy for your company’s website or to write businesslike email responses to customers, it’s one of GPT-3’s core skills.
The impressive thing is how little user input this requires. If you’re an accountancy firm, say, and want a section on your website explaining inheritance tax, you can simply ask GPT-3 to “write 500 words on UK inheritance tax” and within seconds you should have several passages of coherent copy.
It will need to be fact-checked, not least because the vast swathes of internet data GPT-3 was trained on is a couple of years out of date. But it will be much faster than starting from scratch.
Analyse customer feedback
GPT-3 doesn’t only write copy, it can interpret other people’s prose too. Let’s say you’ve recently launched a new product line and you’ve been inviting customers to tell you what they think of the product via social media or a web form.
You could pay a staff member to spend hours wading through the thousands of text responses, determining whether your new product is a hit. Or you can quickly collate the responses, feed them into GPT-3 and have the AI accurately determine whether customer sentiment was positive, negative or neutral.
The AI is pretty good at working this out for itself, but you can give it further nudge in the right direction by manually rating the first few reviews.
And so much more
There are dozens of other examples of how GPT-3 can help your business. It can brainstorm brand names (“give me five different brand names for a low-fat Strawberry yoghurt drink”), it can summarise a long transcript of an online meeting into the key action points.
Building AI apps
The OpenAI Playground is great for experimenting with GPT-3’s capabilities, but to really unlock the power of AI you’re going to want to build your own business apps. If that immediately sounds intimidating and beyond your tech capabilities, fret not, because it’s perfectly possible to build your own workflows using tools such as Zapier.
Zapier has lots of pre-defined OpenAI ‘zaps’ that can use with your existing business applications. For example, there’s one where you can push a Slack message to Zapier, which uses GPT-3 to summarise the message and add it your task list in Todoist.
Alternatively, you can use it to create business emails, with a zap that takes a new email you’ve created, enhances it with the AI, and then puts that message in the drafts folder. This can be of particular use to people who struggle with written communication, such as dyslexia sufferers, allowing them to write emails in telegramese (“thank Mrs Jones, confirm appointment at 3:30 on thurs, call me if probs beforehand”) and have a fully-fledged, businesslike email waiting to send after review.
If you can’t find a zap to do the tasks you need, you can build your own with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Bespoke business apps
If you do have people within the business with coding skills, there are plenty of options open to them for building bespoke business apps. OpenAI has official libraries for Python and Node.js, and there are several more community libraries for languages such as C#, Go and Swift.
Bringing your own code is arguably not as beneficial as bringing your own data, though. As we’ve seen with ChatGPT, the range of knowledge and skills that GPT-3 has exhibited are nothing short of extraordinary, but that knowledge pool is confined (for wont of a better word) to the information that’s publicly available online and what the AI can infer from that. OpenAI lets developers fine-tune applications with their own training data, so that it can generate results that are better tailored to the business.
Take, for example, email classification. Your business might have bespoke categories that you would sort incoming customer emails into, that the AI couldn’t possibly know. However, by uploading hundreds of samples of customer emails and manually categorising them, the AI can quickly learn how to categorise future emails like a trained member of staff would.
Once trained – a process that will often only take a matter of minutes – you can use your company’s own fine-tuned model to handle all of your customers’ emails in the future.
Third-party GPT-3 apps
Of course, instead of coding your own apps, it’s often easier to pay for apps that other developers have already built. There are hundreds of apps built on GPT-3, many designed with very specific tasks in mind.
Viable is one example. It uses AI to evaluate customer data and feedback, allowing companies to quickly identify reasons why customers abandon purchases in the basket on a website, for example, or problems they might be having with a particular product.
Viable exploits GPT-3’s ability to interpret unstructured, qualitative data (such as customer feedback forms) and turns them into reports that businesses can use to quickly identify areas of customer dissatisfaction or if a new product line is generating positive feedback.
Other apps use GPT-3 to ease some of the pain points for employees. Stenography, for example, is an app that can scan pages of code and automatically document what that code is doing. It’s available as an extension for Visual Studio Code and removes one of the great headaches for developers – having to document what their code is doing, so that colleagues can pick up where they left off.
These third-party apps built on GPT-3 aren’t only useful tools for other businesses: they are businesses within themselves. One of the best things about OpenAI making GPT-3 publicly available is that entrepreneurs can develop these AI-based apps without necessarily having any AI development skills of their own, let alone the massive computing resources needed to train and host AI models.
Microsoft and OpenAI
So far, we’ve talked a lot about ways in which businesses can seek out opportunities with GPT-3, but there’s a strong chance it could soon be coming to the business apps that you already use.
In January, Microsoft announced a multi-billion investment in OpenAI to extend a partnership that begun in 2019. Part of the new deal saw Microsoft announce “new AI-powered experiences” across Microsoft’s consumer and enterprise products and we’re already beginning to see the fruits of that.
In the Premium tier of Microsoft Teams, for example, GPT-3 is now being used to automatically generate meeting notes and text highlights from video meetings. Not only does that help participants follow up on action points and quickly refer back to matters discussed in the meeting, it gives people who weren’t in attendance a quick overview of what was discussed, without having to wade through a recording or a full text transcript.
Microsoft’s other traditional Office apps are rumoured to be getting the AI treatment shortly. The company has reportedly already built GPT (possibly GPT-4) into Microsoft Word, using it to power the software’s autocomplete feature. GPT is also being used to improve Microsoft Outlook’s search results, according to a report in The Information, and could also provide suggested replies to emails.
PowerPoint and Excel are also in line for AI enhancements. You can already use GPT-3 to generate Excel formulae based on plain-English commands (“write an Excel formula that averages the values in column C, excluding cell C4” for example). It’s easy to see how the AI could be pressed into action to make Excel less intimidating for employees.
Meanwhile, the ability to create AI-generated images from text descriptions means you might never need to go hunting in stock libraries to get the image you wanted for a PowerPoint slide again.
AI has arrived
In practically no time at all, AI has shifted from a science fiction concept to an everyday business tool. Businesses that aren’t exploring ways in which they can exploit AI to automate tasks, generate recommendations, create reports, analyse customer data or perform any of the other tasks we’ve explored here, are at risk of being left at a competitive disadvantage.
The encouraging thing is that it’s not expensive nor hugely complicated for businesses to start experimenting with GPT-3. The tools are there and can be activated near instantly. Now you just need to decide what you want AI to do for you. Stuck for answers? You could always ask the AI to give you a few suggestions…
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