Business owners are freaking out about artificial intelligence, and you can see why. Even though the technology has been around for a while, it’s now at the forefront of their minds thanks to the popularity of ChatGPT which launched in November 2022 and took just five days to reach one million users. That kind of growth cannot be ignored, and its implications for modern businesses and how they operate is huge.
While there are opportunities around that business owners may decide to pass up, there are also serious threats that can no longer be ignored. Here are the 5 key threats AI poses to business owners in 2023, and how you can stop them ruining your business.
1. Your business will become obsolete in its current form
There’s a very strong chance that, in the near future, AI will render the current iteration of your business obsolete. It won’t exist like it does now because it simply won’t be viable. If it hasn’t already, your business will lose product market fit. Once upon a time, the market was willing to pay a certain price for your product or service. Thanks to the economic supply shock that’s taking place, the market equilibrium has shifted and you’re likely way off.
The writing is on the wall, evident from the advanced AI tools that are popping up. Finaloop aims to replace your bookkeeper, accountant and accountancy software. Robin AI is the legal assistant in your pocket, drafting and editing the contracts that previously cost thousands of dollars. Equivalents are being dreamed up in every industry and there’s no ignoring the future. Where content creation is concerned, agencies might have a problem. It’s now easier than ever for high quality productions to be made in-house, or without a house. Your agency might find it’s losing clients because they are using tools to replace your service.
The solution? Get tooled up yourself. Find out what’s out there and integrate new software to make your work better or reduce the costs it takes to deliver and pass the savings onto your clients. Step your game up and ramp up output. Demonstrate that what you’re doing is better than AI. A junior exec with a subscription can’t compete with your experience and knowledge if you do your research and arm yourself suitably.
2. There’s an increased threat of cyber attacks
Cyberattacks have always posed a risk, but we’re in a new age of threat. We’ll see far more sophisticated malware and hacking attempts than ever before. AI programs are better at identifying weaknesses in security, partly because they are more prolific. With regulation further into the future, it’s the wild west out there. AutoGPT can be given an instruction and simply keep going, and it’s only going to become more advanced. Imagine an AI program was told to, “ruin that company,” and that company was yours.
After that there’s impersonation. Malicious impersonators have better technology at their disposal. They can clone your voice, your face and your style. They can trick even your closest friends into parting with cash or giving up information. Voice cloning software can recreate someone’s voice with less than five minutes of them talking, and many entrepreneurs have this across their social media and YouTube. It wouldn’t be hard for someone to clone you, make a call, and coerce your team into transactions the real you wouldn’t authorise.
So what should you do? Understand what is possible. Educate your team, friends and family, and consider paying for an audit by an ethical hacker. AI can also enhance security, so use that to your advantage instead of being left behind. If someone was hellbent on destroying your world, could they do it? Know how technology could be weaponized to prevent it happening for real.
3. Recruiting genuine talent will be incredibly challenging
AI recruitment tools exist and they are aimed at helping applicants. It makes sense. Looking for a job can take hours, with each employer requesting information in a different format. Applicants could spend all day rewriting their resume and covering letter to fulfil different roles. ChatGPT makes rewrites take minutes, meaning application volume can go through the roof. Even email exchanges can be done with AI, avoiding spelling mistakes and realistically building rapport on your behalf as they book your interviews and answer questions.
Great for candidates, less good for your hiring manager. Not only might you find that the number of applicants for every role gets unmanageably high, but there’s a far greater chance of being catfished. If each applicant has simply fed your job description into a tool and fabricated the response it knows you want to hear, how will you know who is suitable for the position? You might need to have more face-to-face interviews, which takes up more time. Or run more trials, which involves additional resource. While you could engage recruitment AI tools yourself, soon it will just be robots talking to robots and no one will know what’s what. Plus, they’re easy to trick with clever prompting.
The solution here is not to hide. It’s less about banning AI tools or trying to sniff them out, and more about being more creative with your requirements, so you can find the exceptional candidates you know are around. If ChatGPT is a writing and comprehension assistant, stop setting writing and comprehension tasks. Require that people impress you in other ways. Include more easter eggs in role descriptions. Finally, don’t forget that prompt engineer is now a very high paying role, someone who knows how to do it well is likely worth having on board.
4. Lazy team members will blag their way through
While AI stands to increase the productivity of resourceful team members, it means lazy team members can get away with working less. And the low-integrity, unscrupulous employees will do exactly that. They’ll get ChatGPT to produce on their behalf, and take shortcuts where they find them, resulting in lower quality work that might not be scrutinized. Instead of researching, writing and editing their articles, they use a copywriting tool to churn out five in one go, then take the rest of the week off.
AI tools are awesome when they replace human processes, but not when the human who previously did them is pretending that they still do. They’re certainly not awesome if the task is done badly. Most AI writing tools write like someone who is blagging an exam, and while the output quantity can be enhanced, the quality might be dramatically different. It’s definitely not what you want for your brand or clients. For AI to work for your business and not against it, you need a curious team, excited about improving for the benefit of the hive.
If your team want to co-create with AI, discuss it together. Talk about how they can increase their output, hear their ideas for how they can supercharge what they do. Listen to their productivity tips and solutions for winning more press, impressing more clients, or appearing higher in search results. Empower them to use the tools to be better at their job, not just spend less time doing it. Make your policy for what is and isn’t acceptable and consider that everything you enter into ChatGPT is now public information. Apple, Amazon and other companies banned it, for fear of privacy concerns. Whatever you decide, be proactive.
5. You will lose business to a wave of new entrants
The barriers to entry that exist in your industry are quickly coming down. Perhaps before you needed an office, a qualified team, and years of experience to provide your service. Now you need less than an hour. Someone with an idea and a little AI knowledge can create a brand in a few clicks using Looka, a website in 60 seconds using 60sec.site, and populate it with 100 high-value pages using an SEO copywriting platform. They create the impression they’ve been delivering the goods for decades. They can run ads to the page to assess demand, and soon have the traffic and enquiries that should have been yours.
Imagine someone in an experimentation phase, using AI tools to set up ten different agencies in ten different niches, spending $1000 to market each one and see what sticks. The one that sticks could be your next biggest competitor, taking business from under your nose in a far slicker way. Yes, this was possible before, but now it’s magnitudes faster and cheaper, so there’s less to lose.
What’s the antidote? Just be better. Look at your site with fresh eyes. Assess your online presence as a third party. If you were creating your business from scratch, what would you do differently? A simpler value proposition, more compelling offer, better case studies and a more seamless way for customers to get booked in might be exactly what you need. Get intentional about improving your shop window to deter the next wave of business owners so they go elsewhere.
Your business has a strong chance of being hacked, having trouble hiring, producing lower quality work and becoming obsolete in its current form, not to mention fending off competition from all angles. While you could sit in the corner, cover your eyes and pray for it all to go away, that’s not in your nature and that won’t do any good. Get intentional about learning and applying every new technology to see what you can do. Know the lay of the land so nothing takes you by surprise. Proactively survive every new threat and be one of this revolution’s winners.