What does “Investment in Generative AI” actually mean?

I’ve found myself in a number of conversations recently where the discussion has turned to the speed at which organisations are investing in generative AI.

More and more, however, I find myself asking: “What, exactly, do you mean by that?”

Sometimes I get a meaningful answer, but often I don’t, especially when people are looking at things through a technology investment lens, which many seem to be doing.

The challenge is that generative AI can enter organisations through many routes.

At one end of the spectrum we have passive adoption, with AI features being included as standard in solutions we already use. Sometimes such features are offered as paid-for extras, and we’ve seen these offered by pretty much all of the SaaS providers we use at Freeform Dynamics and Triadic Zone.

On that note, I’m not sure if providers expect customers to pay for the same or similar capabilities over and over for the same users, but this really isn’t sustainable.

Moving on to the next level, we have business solutions like CRM, marketing, service management, creativity, etc, for which AI is becoming more fundamental rather than simply an add-on. Even here, though, it’s generally embedded into the solution by the provider and may or may not be explicitly paid for.

Lastly, there’s the direct use of AI models and tools to develop bespoke solutions.

From our initial research (watch this space for some fresh data soon), CIOs currently place a lot less emphasis on the development route, anticipating that most adoption will take the form of generative AI being embedded to enhance familiar solutions.

That being said, what’s clear when you talk to both IT and business leaders is that no one really knows how things will develop, and I personally think a lot of pundits are underestimating how quickly AI-driven features will become table stakes in many areas.

Against this background, the more interesting discussion for me is about risk management in relation to generative AI, but that’s a topic for another post.

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