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AI Report: “If it doesn’t solve a business problem you’re wasting your time”

In this excerpt from our latest report entitled “How Technology Especially AI & Web 3.0 Will Shape The Future of Media“, key presenters at FIPP Congress 2023 share their views on AI and Web 3.0. A key takeaway is that publishers should start experimenting, but only on a small scale. Crucially, all AI development must be backed by a business use case.

How should media companies perceive AI? A technology that can elevate their productivity and generate higher levels of revenue? Or a threat that could plagiarise their content and ultimately deliver even greater power to the tech platforms. The answer is somewhere in between.

Rafat Ali, CEO of Skift, remains positive, “You should be an optimist in ‘Age of AI’ because if you’re a pessimist then you’re dead. There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing that you control.”

The tools potentially make the creation of media a lot more efficient. They take some of the drudgery out of the low level tasks that either journalists or people within the media have to do, making work more efficient and better.

“We do a podcast. The company that was doing the podcast for us went out of business. We used to create the script daily and then send it to them to be able to voice it. What did we do? We’re now using the AI voice tools to basically create a daily podcast.”

If it doesn’t have a business case, forget it

How then should companies assess the potential of technologies like AI and Web 3.0? How do they integrate them into their workflows? In some ways the technologies may be more sophisticated, but the methods of experimenting with them have been with us for decades.

One of the most insightful presentations at Congress 2034 came from Dan Pacheco, Peter A. Horvitz Endowed Chair in Journalism Innovation, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University.

Dan, who has worked for publishers including The Washington Post, spoke about emerging technologies and the way in which media companies need to learn to engage with them, and then experiment with potential uses.

He also had a word of warning for publishers, emphasising that they need to spend time stress-testing the new technology in a highly forensic way. After all, as he pointed out, the vast majority of tech ‘sure-fire bets’ turn out to be failures.

“Don’t invest really big unless you’ve tried things that are very small that deliver some data. Find unmet needs for a target audience. If you’re not solving a problem for somebody in some way, and that’s an information problem for media, you’re wasting your time. You need to have that somebody in mind and the problem in mind then come up with an idea.

“It could end up being wrong. That’s okay. As leaders, you need to allow the people who work for you to try things and fail. It’s constant iteration. Once you have that idea, perform a test. Be ready to fall out of love with your best ideas.”

Dan advised, “Stop thinking about the internet as being just a bunch of rectangles. Regardless of what you think about virtual reality or augmented reality, the fabric to make the technology work is already here. You’re probably already seeing more of this kind of content.

“Go into Google search right now, you search on a tiger and you can project the tiger into the room with the phone. So none of these things are kind of going away. They’re just getting more interactive, more immersive. But how do you as a media professional or media company decide what to do with that, right? And where do you put your eggs? I think this is the big question right here.”

To watch Dan’s full presentation on AI and emerging technologies, please access here.

To download the latest Mx3 Leadership report, AI, Technology and the Media – updates from the FIPP World Media Congress 2023, please click here.