QuickTake: What AI & ChatGPT Really Mean for Distributors

MDM CEO Tom Gale and Indian River Consulting's Mike Marks discuss the latest AI model, GPT-4, and how it might impact the distribution industry.
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GPT-4, the latest artificial intelligence language model from OpenAI released last week, is leaving users excited yet nervous over how the most-advanced AI technology will change the world.

While the internet is still buzzing over GPT-4’s early accomplishments — such as passing a bar exam with flying colors or creating a working website based on a mere photo of a sketch in a notebook — MDM CEO Tom Gale sat down with Indian River Consulting Group Founder Mike Marks to discuss how the latest AI technology might impact the distribution industry.

Gale opened by arguing that, when it comes to how distributors use AI, “automated intelligence” might be a more fitting term.

“I think (automated intelligence is) a more realistic way to think about the algorithms, which are at the heart of all this, that can really change for a business — whether it’s a distribution company or manufacturing company — how they can operate much more efficiently and tap into some of this,” Gale said.

Marks spoke on how distributors and manufacturers can take advantage of automated knowledge through a type of AI software that many businesses already use: chatbots, which are meant to help guide users on a company’s website. If a company employs a chatbot that has access to all of the company’s data, customers can quickly get answers to even very specific queries.

“What the automated knowledge does is, if someone asked me a very specific question, I can take that huge knowledge base and instantly give them a very quick answer,” Marks said. “So, the idea is you’re taking friction out of it for the customer. And things just go a lot smoother.”

An AI chatbot with access to a company’s data could also come up with the right questions to ask, which would help customers and businesses alike. So, while equipping an AI chatbot with every last detail of a company’s data would likely be a grand undertaking, having that resource would be well worth it in the long run, Marks said.

“(AI) gives you better data quicker to make better decisions about what you do with your time and your resources. That’s where the money is. And that’s all about labor productivity. So it’s not about eliminating jobs,” Marks said. “I think this is kind of like how nobody had a fax strategy when it came out, and everybody worried about their web strategy and digital strategy. And this is just another flavor. And three years from now, it’s going to be all over the place.”

Listen to the full podcast episode via the audio player above, and check out our full library of MDM Podcasts here.

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