GenAI: Transforming industries, ensuring responsibility, and driving competitive advantage
At TechSparks 2023 Bangalore edition, Subram Natarajan, Director of Customer Engineering at Google Cloud India, shared insights on how businesses can actively engage with GenAI and the essential elements for successful implementation.
Generative AI represents a remarkable opportunity for businesses to usher in organisational transformation. Its potential extends beyond mere incremental change, as it holds the power to revolutionise entire enterprises and, in certain cases, entire industries.
In the current landscape, businesses are taking proactive steps by initiating pilot projects, developing prototypes, and delving into various applications, all with a strong focus on delivering concrete, tangible value.
During a fireside chat at TechSparks 2023, India’s most influential startup-tech conference, Subram Natarajan, Director of Customer Engineering at Google Cloud India, explained how businesses can actively participate in the evolution of GenAI. In conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, he shared key insights, shedding light on the transformative potential of this cutting-edge technology.
The importance of GenAI
In his 25+ years of experience, Natarajan said he had never witnessed a technology transition from the conceptual or design stage to full-scale production as swiftly as GenAI has. Natarajan relies on three distinct points to ascertain the necessity for GenAI across various roles.
“First, when engaging with customers, we consistently hear their inquiries and demands, with GenAI being a recurring theme in these conversations. Second, market analysts uniformly point toward GenAI as the focal point of the forthcoming revolution. Last, observing technological advancements within the tech industry itself serves as the third compelling factor. These three elements are converging to fulfil the promise that GenAI brings,” he said.
As an example, he cited how during a recent three-city event for Google Cloud, meals were curated with the assistance of GenAI. “This means chefs collaborated with GenAI to craft the dishes, a remarkable transformation for their role,” Natarajan explained.
Next, he gave an example of programming. “I recently met a developer who had been experimenting with various programming paradigms. Suddenly, she began employing GenAI to aid in generating programs and test cases. This shift is profound, as the traditional definition of a programmer has undergone a significant alteration. The impact is far-reaching, encompassing all roles.”
Natarajan went on to add that businesses today need to recognise and embrace this disruption. “We must actively drive change within our organisations instead of waiting for technology to dictate it to us. To stay at the forefront, it is imperative not to be a laggard but to lead the way,” he said.
The disruption of legacy technology with GenAI
With regards to GenAI disrupting legacy technologies, Natarajan explained that organisations should consider it as a means of enhancing roles, rather than outright replacements. He gave the example of a creative artist who can take help from GenAI for content creation. “It is like having a companion who can help alongside whether it's crafting images or videos. Consider scenarios where a role entails sifting through numerous documents; envision a companion summarising these documents for you, providing concise insights whenever needed,” he added.
He cited the example of chatbots that are robotic in their interactions. This is witnessing a transformation as GenAI chatbots are engaging in conversations that are remarkably human-like, featuring empathy and emotion.
“Augmentation of roles is paramount. Legacy technology transformation occurs by reimagining how tasks can be performed more efficiently and effectively, rather than complete replacement. This approach encourages innovation in how we conduct our activities and boosts our productivity in unique ways,” Natarajan said.
Strategies to embrace GenAI in organisations
When it comes to organisational adoption of GenAI, businesses need to have a strategic approach, which is crucial for success.
“This may entail forming dedicated teams, ensuring the right expertise is in place, and identifying key functions that can benefit from GenAI integration,” he said. It is also essential for organisations to define entry points for GenAI. “These can be customer-facing, but sometimes, the most significant impact occurs within internal processes and functions. Therefore, a comprehensive view is necessary to identify where GenAI can have the most substantial positive impact,” Natarajan added.
Lastly, organisations must consider the influence on its culture. As a technology, GenAI is evolving at a very high pace, with advancements occurring almost weekly. To keep up, organisations need a culture that emphasises continuous learning, so it is an ongoing process, adapting to the ever-evolving technology landscape.
A dynamic shift in strategies
Natarajan also discussed responsible AI usage, adherence to governance policies, and content security. He shed light on how GenAI can be effectively applied across various industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and banking. GenAI is streamlining patient care, enhancing manufacturing efficiency, and improving customer interactions, leading to significant transformations within these sectors.
“Today organisations should view GenAI as a means to differentiate themselves and tap into new opportunities, both in terms of customer impact and bottom-line improvements, ushering in a dynamic shift in business strategies and operations,” he added.
Challenges and considerations
When organisations embark on the journey of implementing GenAI solutions, they must navigate several critical challenges, said Natarajan said. “The first point is to establish data controls. Mechanisms to enforce them are crucial, and organisations should either establish these controls or partner with trusted providers who guarantee their implementation,” he said.
The second challenge revolves around cost management and optimisation. Large language models and the foundation of Generative AI demand substantial computational resources. Organisations must be mindful of the costs associated with deploying and operating these models.
“It's imperative to assess the return on investment for each use case involving GenAI, as the computational requirements can be substantial,” Natarajan said.
The third and final aspect to address in implementing GenAI is security and accuracy. Security measures are essential to prevent harmful content from entering the system and to protect the organisation from legal issues.
“Ensuring the accuracy of the inferences drawn from GenAI is crucial. Data used should be as up-to-date as possible, as relying on outdated information can lead to inaccuracies.”
Organisations must prioritise both security and accuracy as they embark on their GenAI journey, placing these considerations at the forefront of their implementation efforts, Natarajan said.