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Embracing AI: why starting small is the secret to success

Over the last year we’ve been at the forefront of embracing the arrival of AI in the WordPress space, and we’ve learnt a lot along the way…

Whether it’s by building new tools in the open, hosting, sponsoring, and speaking at events, or in the work we’ve been doing with clients and partners, AI has been high on our agenda over the course of 2023. And that’s not set to change in 2024.

There’s no doubt that AI will continue to transform the way we all work and live over the coming year(s). And it’s exciting to think that over the course of the year ahead we’re likely to move out of the hype zone and into an era of practical application, with tangible real-world benefit.

It’s not a given, though. Here are four things we all need to do to maximise the chances of our investments in AI bearing fruit.

1. Think smaller

While the influencers populating your social feeds declaring the ‘world has changed’ and ‘you’re falling behind if you haven’t…’ aren’t technically wrong, their bombastic assertions aren’t terribly helpful in terms of facilitating tangible change for most of us. The business imperative is often to ‘think big’ – more sales, more success, bigger opportunities. But if you’re too focused on the biggest picture, AI inertia can creep in. Revolutionising your entire tech stack, and going ‘all-in’ on AI overnight isn’t feasible for most.

What is way more realistic is to run a series of smaller AI-enabled projects to establish what’s possible, extract incremental value, and to shake-off the otherness of this new tech. Maybe it’s looking at an SEO metatag assistant, something to help with image resizing, or a tool allowing writers to edit and distribute content at scale. By embracing smaller ring-fenced projects, teams can start to make progress and build up to the larger changes around the corner.

2. Explore beyond generative AI

We recently ran a series of roundtable events focused on how AI is going to impact the future of publishing. Something that struck me during these sessions was how large a percentage of the groups involved automatically jumped to talking about generative AI when discussing artificial intelligence. The go-to was always the image of an AI tool writing content or creating images, and this brought up all the conversations around trust, authenticity, and a race to the bottom in terms of standards. And while these conversations are – of course – important and relevant, they are really only part of the puzzle.

Generative AI has captured the imagination of companies embracing AI, partly because ChatGPT has stolen so many headlines, and partly – probably – because it’s the easiest to play with and understand. But AI – as a tool for doing things, finding patterns and executing quickly – is incredibly useful beyond its powers of creation. It would be a mistake to ignore the benefits here because of uncertainty about other aspects of its application.Think data sorting, recommendations, and administrative overhead reduction: there are myriad uses for AI within enterprise organisations.  


Another theme I’ve heard discussed recently is centred on a sense of discomfort around the amount of power a relatively small number of companies seem to be about to hold – it’s not often companies like Google and Facebook seem outmanoeuvred, but here we are. And while embracing AI can lead to seeking quick solutions, like companies pouring data into Open AI and Microsoft, there is another way.

By training their own LLMs in a controlled environment, companies can wrestle back control and build AI tools in their own image. The more world-building you can do for your model, the better it will understand your business, your aims, and your place in the world. There are viable proprietary and open-source options out there. Some of the most inspiring and practical examples I’ve seen of enterprise organisations building AI tools recently have been when people follow this path. 

4. Have fun

Perhaps above everything else, we all need to embrace our inner child, our inner scientists, and our imaginations. We’re right at the start of this thing, and the only real difference between the people and businesses ‘doing things with AI’ and those either too afraid or unsure where to start is that they’ve tried something. Maybe something small, maybe even something not immediately work-related, but they are learning and experimenting. That’s really the order of the day.

Architecture, Building, Observatory

Wondering what AI can do for your organisation? The easiest way to get started is by having a chat with the right partner. Check out our AI consultancy services or get in touch.

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