Core Concepts

Generative AI: A Guide for Business Professionals

Generative AI is one of the most exciting and potentially transformative technologies to emerge in recent years. Learn the basics in this post.
In: Core Concepts, Business

Generative AI is one of the most exciting and potentially transformative technologies to emerge in recent years. In today's issue, I'll provide the following:

  • An overview of what generative AI is
  • How it works
  • Business use cases and benefits
  • Skills to get started
  • How no-code AI can help

Let's dive in 🤘

What is Generative AI?

Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence systems that can generate new content, such as text, images, audio, and video. The key word here is "generate" - these systems can create completely original outputs that are practically indistinguishable from content created by humans.

Generative AI is a subset of artificial intelligence that uses machine learning models trained on vast datasets to produce new, realistic artifacts. The most well-known examples right now are text generation systems like GPT-4, image generation systems like DALL-E 2, and audio generation tools.

Generative AI is the ability of artificial intelligence models to create new, original content and artifacts such as text, code, images, video, and more.

How Does Generative AI Work?

Generative AI systems are trained on huge datasets to understand patterns and relationships between words, pixels, or notes. For example, a text generation model like GPT-4 is trained on millions of web pages and books to learn the structure and grammar of human languages.

These models use deep learning algorithms and neural networks to analyze these training datasets and develop an understanding of how to generate realistic outputs. They predict patterns rather than follow predetermined rules. You will see those models referred to as Large Language Models (LLMs). I wrote a detailed Introduction to Large Language Models a few months back:

Introduction to Large Language Models
Learn the basics of Large Language Models, their application, and how they work.

So when you give the model a text prompt, it draws on all its training to predict the most likely next sequence of words. This enables it to generate surprisingly human-like text or imagery based on the initial prompt.

What is a prompt? Well, it is a text input given to an AI system to provide context and guide the desired response.

Prompts are the interface to speak with artificial intelligence

Business Use Cases and Benefits

There are countless potential applications of generative AI across different industries and business functions:

  • Marketing and advertising - Generate product descriptions, ad copy, landing pages, emails
  • Content creation - Automatically produce news articles or social media captions
  • Customer service - Build chatbots that can engage in natural conversations
  • Summarization - Distill long reports or research papers into concise summaries
  • Data analysis - Identify patterns and insights from the data
  • Personalization - Create customized content for specific users or customer segments
  • Product development - Prototype and test new product designs rapidly

The main benefits for business include:

Generative AI enables businesses to scale creativity, optimize content, reach customers in new ways, and save time and money.

  • Increased efficiency - Automate repetitive, time-consuming content generation tasks
  • Cost savings - Reduce reliance on expensive human creatives/writers
  • Improved consistency - Maintain brand voice and tone across all content
  • Higher quality - Leverage AI's ability to analyze data and identify optimal content
  • Faster ideation - Rapidly prototype and iterate on new ideas and concepts
  • Scalability - Easily scale content production to reach larger audiences
Generative AI Impact

How to Get Started with Generative AI

Here are some tips for business professionals looking to get started with leveraging generative AI:

  • Identify clear use cases within your business where generative AI can add value. Focus on tedious or time-intensive tasks that require creativity or human language skills.
  • Look for generative AI models that are pre-trained for your specific industry or use case. Models that have been trained on your field's jargon and data will produce more relevant outputs right away.
  • Start small with lightweight pilots to test the technology on low-risk projects. Poetry drafting for greeting cards, assistant meeting summarization, commercial taglines etc.
  • Evaluate the outputs critically. Generative AI still requires human curation to pick the best results and may require multiple tries to get it right.
  • Consider combining generative AI with human creativity in a hybrid model rather than full automation. Humans still excel at strategic vision and critical thinking.
  • Look beyond the technology itself and focus on integrating it smoothly into existing workflows. This is key to adoption across teams.

With a thoughtful approach, even non-technical professionals can begin experimenting with generative AI to drive innovation.

Building AI Skills for the Future

To stay competitive in an increasingly AI-driven business environment, professionals should look to develop skills in working with and applying AI.

Here are some key AI competencies worth cultivating:

  • AI foundations - Learn basic concepts like machine learning, neural networks, and computer vision. Understand AI ethics and risks.
  • Data skills - Become proficient in data cleaning, analysis, visualization, and mining to prepare quality training data.
  • AI implementation - Gain hands-on experience with AI toolkits and platforms like TensorFlow and Watson to deploy applications.
  • AI evaluation - Learn how to critically assess AI systems for bias, fairness, and safety. Be able to interpret model outputs.
  • AI strategy - Develop strategic thinking on how to identify promising use cases, evaluate vendors, and integrate AI into business processes.
  • AI design - Enhance human-centered design skills to create more responsible, interpretable, and unbiased AI systems.
  • Generative AI familiarity - Get exposure to leading generative models like DALL-E for images, GPT-3 for text, and tools to apply them.
  • No-code AI skills - Utilize no-code platforms to build AI prototypes faster without coding.

Prioritizing these AI-focused skills will position any professional to lead the integration of AI into business functions and ensure AI is deployed responsibly for customers. Even roles not directly involved in data science can become vital champions of AI transformation.

How No-Code AI Can Help

No-code AI platforms put the power of generative AI directly into the hands of non-technical business users. With a visual, drag-and-drop interface, anyone can leverage pre-built AI capabilities without needing to code.

Benefits of no-code generative AI include:

  • Faster experimentation - Instantly access AI models like language, image, and video generation
  • Control - Fine-tune the outputs from generative models to fit your business needs
  • Flexibility - Easily adapt the AI as your needs change
  • Collaboration - Build AI solutions together with non-technical colleagues and stakeholders
  • Speed - Develop and deploy AI prototypes rapidly without relying on data science teams

At IBM we created the Prompt Lab in, a no-code interface where users can experiment with zero-shot, one-shot, or few-shot prompting to support a range of Natural Language Processing (NLP) type tasks including question answering, content generation and summarization, text classification, and extraction.

IBM Prompt Lab


Generative AI has immense potential to transform how businesses operate and deliver value to customers. With the right strategy and tools, even non-technical professionals can start harnessing generative AI today. The key is starting small with low-risk use cases, evaluating outputs critically, and focusing on smooth integration into workflows. With responsible experimentation and continuous learning, generative AI can become a core component of your business toolkit in the years ahead.

Written by
Armand Ruiz
I'm a Director of Data Science at IBM and the founder of I love to play tennis, cook, and hike!
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