think ahead – The Business Implications of AI

How the AI revolution has us all both enamoured and apprehensive


The new era of Generative AI is ushering in a People Power Revolution, making it possible for anyone to create new products and services, irrespective of their technical expertise.

In the business world, this powerful technology is having a no less transformative effect. Companies can only make the most of its potential by weaving human capabilities with creative partnerships set within a wider spectrum of business ecosystems.

It is within this at once exciting and yet daunting landscape that London Business School’s Professor Michael Jacobides welcomed close to 1800 online and in-person guests attending the School’s latest think ahead series of events, The Business Implications of AI, which was held in Lecture Theatre 12 on the 26th of September.

Clare Mortimer, Business Transformation Services Leader for UK & Ireland, IBM; Giuseppe Stigliano, CEO, Spring Studios, and Arka Dhar, Product Lead with OpenAI, joined Professor Jacobides in the discussion which was opened with thoughts about the evolutionary dynamics of artificial intelligence, and considered the radical potential changes yet to come.

Professor Jacobides, who was recently invited to join the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum’s newly launched AI Governance Alliance (AIGA), reflected on the fact that one aspect of the discussion on AI that has changed and transformed the landscape is the development of Generative AI. “GenAI introduces the possibility of not only seeking patterns through computational statistics, but being able to sift through text, document and images in order to provide solutions.”

This is, he said, is a discontinuous change, “not just in terms of what the technology can do, but in terms of the speed at which this technology has been able to improve”.

Introducing Akar Dhar to the discussion at this point, he remarked on how excited they both had been when witnessing AI conversing through images, a capability which attracted huge interest on the day of its first day of release.

The statistics produced by GenAI are unprecedented in terms of historical patterns. “Estimates we have seen drawn from research is that anywhere between 25 to 85 percent improvements in productivity are possible. Set that within the context of the productivity boost from the steam engine, which was around 25 percent, and these are staggering figures,” said Professor Jacobides.

Asked what most excited him recent developments with GenAI, Mr Dhar said that it was astounding to consider that it began as an experiment and he had thought that little would come of it. “We quickly had to hire a lot of people to keep the company going and create good products. It has been phenomenal. Principally getting computers to find new ways for doing things for you, one needed to know programming languages. One saw a journey that moved from machine learning to the adoption of very easy languages like Python. Now, one can use any language at all to talk to a computer in order to accomplish tasks and even write code for you .. this is transformative!”

For Giuseppe Stigliano, Global CEO of integrated creative agency, Spring Studios, the issue of why the company simply did not bypass existing technology and procedures altogether in order to monetise the advantages that GenAI offers proved challenging to answer.

“In education media and advertising one is presented with an opportunity with GenAI, but we need to properly figure out what to do with it within our own environments,” said Mr Stigliano.

 “We believe that we still need humans to oversee creative work lacking as it does emotional intelligence and the all-important bird’s eye view. We need to find the right balance between what we want in terms of value creation and what we want to delegate.”

In the very different realm of medical care, Clare Mortimer said that the NHS service, at 75 years old, is fundamentally different from when it started. “A lot of transformation is driven by technology in some form. Healthcare today is in a fundamentally different place and this is because there are lots of pockets of brilliant adoption.”

Observing the after effects of the pandemic, Clare noted that the imperatives of faster technology adoption in a space where a solution was need “now”, “the rules were not off, but the rules were different so the excuses went away if one could solve a problem and make a difference to what was at the forefront of everyone’s mind”.

One powerful point of connection that brought all the panellists together was a discussion raised by Akar Dhar. News that Spotify will start using Generative AI to translate podcasts into other languages, and the potential to adapt this approach to the 350k audio titles and 70 trillion tokens of data owned by Spotify concentrated everyone’s mind.

Drawing these thoughts into a wider context, there was broad agreement with that it was not who has the technology, and who has the data, but it is the power of partnerships that would make the difference with this new technology.

The discussion concluded with the observation that it would be how those future partnerships would be created that would make the real difference, producing huge amounts of novel IP and with the partnerships evolving the technology in all manner of fascinating ways.