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Decoding AI: what every communications leader needs to know about the new technology

In the latest episode of our new podcast series, Insight to Impact, Theo Hildebrand, Partner and Head of Content, Digital and Data at FGS Global, sits down with Di Mayze, Head of Data and AI at WPP, and Oles Danylovych, from FGS Global’s Data Analytics Team, to decode the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence (AI) – the new tools, the risks to recognise, and how the technology is already shaping the world of communications.

From creating digital avatars to acting as an extra ‘team member’, the power of artificial intelligence is already being deployed across FGS Global and its parent company WPP. So, asks FGS Global Partner Theo Hildebrand in this latest episode of the Insight to Impact podcast, what do leaders need to understand about this new technology – and act on now?

While generative AI – generating new content, from text to imagery – is the focus of much of the wider conversation, Di Mayze, WPP’s Head of Data and AI, points out that artificial intelligence has many other use cases, among them human representation (she currently uses her own avatar to demonstrate to colleagues ‘the accessibility of the tech’); extracting insights from data; and complex decision-making, such as using AI to steer workforce optimisation.

As for how to embed AI in a business, ‘making the learning accessible’ is key, says Mayze. WPP, which has over 100,000 employees, has been providing data and AI literacy training since 2019, including a ‘Demystify AI’ programme which fields related questions, while communicating the legal and ethical parameters around the group’s use of the technology.

She explores how, in a social media era with an ethos of ‘move fast and break things’, some companies have operated on the basis that ‘publicly available means legally available’ in terms of data usage. As we move into the age of AI, that assumption is being challenged increasingly against the backdrop of an ever-louder conversation about protecting human creativity.

It is a reminder why the idea of keeping a ‘human in the loop’ – rather than leaving AI to operate without supervision – is essential to handling this developing technology, she notes. In tandem, data is firmly back on the agenda, as AI allows companies to unlock the power of their information – and she explains why we can expect to see far more collaboration between brands in this area.

In the short term, there will be more debate around copyright, transparency around machine learning, and how to incentivise humans to keep creating. Yet over time, ‘we will start to see AI as part of the team’, where the best companies will reskill employees if needed. Overall, she is optimistic about the possibilities, including for creatives: ‘Imagine a world where the bits of your job you don’t like you can outsource to your AI – and then have more time for thinking.’

On a still more granular level, Oles Danylovych, from FGS Global’s Data Analytics Team, explores how AI is already being used in the communications world, noting that ‘because we're working with language, it's actually applicable to so many things we do’. He lays out some of the many ways it can save time and labour – for example, reading 500 articles to give a view on the sentiment around a company or issue. At the same time, he discusses how teams must be educated in its use – from the ‘golden rule’ around sharing confidential information, to tailoring prompts to improve the accuracy of ‘hallucination’-prone AI tools. Lastly, he explores why every business must appoint someone to lead on AI, for both internal and external audiences.

As for the big question: should we all now become AI prompt engineers? Actually, says Oles, all of us are going to be prompt engineers to a degree. While AI is not essential to every role right now, it is here to stay – so, as Di Mayze puts it, ‘best get stuck in’.

To listen to the podcast, click here.