Breaking Barriers – Embracing AI and Automation for Business Transformation 3

On the 19th of September, hgkc and Emerge Digital held their third roundtable on the challenges of AI and Automation for Business Transformation. The event took place at Yeovil’s Northover Manor Hotel, and Peter Quintana (hgkc Director) and Tom Henson (Emerge Digital MD) discussed the growth of AI and some of the opportunities and the barriers businesses face when adopting AI.

On the 19th of September, hgkc and Emerge Digital held their third roundtable on the challenges of AI and Automation for Business Transformation. The event took place at Yeovil’s Northover Manor Hotel, and Peter Quintana (hgkc Director) and Tom Henson (Emerge Digital MD) discussed the growth of AI and some of the opportunities and the barriers businesses face when adopting AI.


Tom opened the roundtable with a presentation looking at the history of AI. Before starting he pointed out that all the images in the presentation were made by Dall-E, an AI image generation bot. The launch of ChatGPT has spurred people into talking about AI. It is incredibly powerful, very clever, but it is still computer programming and not sentient. However, despite this, Tom did warn that if you don’t use AI properly, if you don’t think about what you’re telling it to do or the data you’re putting in, the interpretation that you get can be inaccurate, and potentially dangerous. These engines can be manipulated, and they can be taught the wrong things. If you just feed it one version of events that is what it will base its response on.


We need to learn how to ask the right questions, and this means making sure there is the right amount of source data and knowledge so the engine can provide a broader answer from the most sources. To make sure you ask the right questions you need to learn what Emerge Digital have coined The Art of the Prompt.


What you need to be is CLEAR:

Contextual – provide background information.

Literal – use clear language and avoid ambiguity.

Expansive – ask open ended questions.

Actionable – clearly ask for an action or task to be performed.

Relevant – stick to one topic and avoid unrelated information.    


Think of asking your AI tool in the same way that you would ask a member of your team to do something – how would you give that instruction? Provide the same information to ChatGPT as you would to a colleague.


ChatGPT has started being used for information searching – giving an answer based on its knowledge. It is also able to summarise large amounts of information easily and quickly, instead of you having to search through millions of different web pages. In structured and unstructured data, it is able to find patterns and anomalies. There are also tools that can be used for image generation based on a natural language prompt – all the images are unique and have never been created before.


AI isn’t as new as people believe though. The first digital computer, ENIAC, was developed in 1945. Perceptron (1958) and was the first development of a neural network capable of recognising patterns, and in 1986, Backpropagation, an algorithm which enabled neural networks to learn from their mistakes, was launched. Following this, in 1997 Deep Blue was the first computer to beat a chess grand master. In 2012 came AlexNet, which was able to process complex data and started to use image recognition. Then came ChatGPT in 2022, and at the time it was the fastest piece of technology to reach one million users. Its record of five days has now been beaten by the launch of Threads.


Peter pointed out that AI can be used for sector research and how to disrupt the sector. You might already be doing some of it, some might not be relevant, but it is a starting point for a conversation around the board table. He then reminded everyone that AI is a co-pilot to help you and if you use it as a support instead of completely relying on it – you can really get the most out of it.


What are we going to be seeing in the future when it comes to AI?


Tom said that there will be an increase in adoption, with businesses applying AI tools more to improve the way that they do things. Microsoft are leading the way in AI and are launching their new CoPilot integrated into the 365 suite of products.

AI may well completely change business models and our approach to business in ways we haven’t yet thought about. We are focusing on using it to save time, automate services for customers, but it will develop and do so much more. When we hosted our first AI round table in May you could create images, by the time we hosted our second in July, you could create videos. AI technology is developing very quickly.


Of course, as with anything new, there are ethical considerations that business owners will need to take into account. They will need to think about how they want to use AI and focus on creating better outcomes over short-term disruptions.

The discussion turned to the younger generations, who are using AI tools to create their CVs, write blogs, and do schoolwork. They are using what they are given word for word making it very obvious that it has been created by AI. Peter pointed out that the real value of ChatGPT comes from the time and effort that it allows you to save and despite the efficiency of such tools, people still need to edit and learn how to make it fit into their business’ tone of voice, otherwise it will look very out of place on a website, or the same as every other CV. There also seems to be a mixed response from schools: some seem to be anti-ChatGPT, but primary schools are encouraging children to learn how to use it.

It is important not to take everything ChatGPT says at face value. We don’t know what other information is out there, we don’t know how reliable the information is. There needs to be critical assessment of the information that you’ve been given. We need to learn what information is valid and what isn’t. You need the human element to understand what the strategic value of the information is, but everyone is different and will interpret and use the information in different ways.

Tom reminded everyone that everything you see from AI today is the worst you’ll ever see as it’ll only get better. ChatGPT is still in its beta stage and was never intended to be a tool that we start using in business today. They’re still very early days and some of the issues are still being ironed out.


It is important to remember that everything you put into ChatGPT will be accessible by the public. However, Microsoft’s CoPilot will create a private AI for you which will keep all your information confidential. It will be launched at the end of 2023, however, it is still unknown how it is going to be priced – we believe there will be some free features and some premium ones.

CoPilot has the capability of learning your way of writing, your business style, and your personal style but because of GDPR it cannot use your unique style. It is likely you will have to agree or allow the tool to use the business information and adapt to the individual’s writing style.


What are the main challenges or barriers you’ve encountered in adopting AI in businesses, and how are you going about solving them?


Agencies are facing the challenge that their clients have started using AI tools and doing the work themselves instead of reaching out for help. It was recommended that these agencies need to show their clients why their help is still necessary. The possibility of selling training on how to use AI tools correctly and to the betterment of the business was suggested as a solution.

Businesses will need to change how they work and possibly need to focus on new things as well as research into what AI can’t do and provide those services. Job roles will change, and people will become Prompt Managers with other roles such as Designers and Copywriters being used to fine tune the information that AI tools can provide. Peter pointed out that businesses will need to identify and differentiate between the knowledge that they have - the invaluable knowledge that AI can’t provide – and what AI can deliver.


It was also pointed out that some people still enjoy engaging with others and want to communicate with real people, whereas others just want to be served quickly without any engagement. Organisations need to find a balance between the two.

Tom said that by using these technologies you can create new platforms. Companies need to leverage these tools to give something around the individual needs of the business. This will enable us to do things that couldn’t have been done before as now is far more cost effective. In some sectors, the value will no longer be in the skills of the team but in their ability to listen and talk with the customers. He also pointed out that in some industries AI could help relieve pressure points and free up time, whereas in other industries, AI could change how it works completely.


Peter also said that consultants are realising they cannot do it on their own and have started to work together to extend their services providing more value to their clients. It is a combination of added value services, different value services. It is time to start thinking about business model innovation. Businesses may have evolved but it is now about revolution. It is scary, but it is also really exciting.

People still have no idea what AI can do, and business can help by showing them something specific that works for their firms. Those not using AI will fall by the wayside. Younger generations are growing up using AI in school and having learnt it from a young age they will not want to join companies who are not using AI tools.


The roundtable ended with the reminder that businesses will benefit if they can maximise the time they have to think about what they’re doing. They need to learn how to use AI tools to support their business not just to replace certain jobs; to save time and effort and allow people to truly do what they love and are passionate about.


In attendance were:

  • Liam Gray and Colin Smith from IQD Frequency Products.
  • Sam Forster-Spira from Proctor and Stevenson.
  • Jon Faulker from 6 by Three – “Great mix of sharing, insight, application, experiences and discussion.”
  • Jo Child and Liz Alford from Friars Moor Livestock Health.
  • Rob Butcher from Braunability – “Brilliant introduction and stimulating discussion around, what is for me, a new subject area.”
  • Phil Warren from Energy and Technical Services Ltd.
  • Guy Mason from Brief2Event.
  • Nic Barker from Shakespeare Martineau – “Great seminar thank you.”


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