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Using AI to give us some eureka moments

I’m fast coming round to the view that the best use of current AI tools is already analytical rather than generative. (Well done Chris, I hear you say, I knew you’d get there in the end).

Sure, knowing lots about, well, everything, AI can use that knowledge to generate stuff.

But if we only just bother to ask, it’s even better at analysing things – and that can be an entire discipline.

For example, inspired by this article, I picked a random business sector and asked ChatGPT to come up with some ideas about misconceptions that customers might have. Maybe it might come up with some ideas which we don’t cover well enough in our marketing materials.

I didn’t have much hope that it would produce anything worthwhile.

I mean, a whole industry is far too big to get a grip of, right?

I asked:

What are the most common assertions in the instrumentation industry that are the least likely to be supported with evidence?

…and ChatGPT replied, more quickly than I could read it:

In the instrumentation industry, which is crucial for measurement and control in various sectors like manufacturing, healthcare, and research, several common assertions are often made but not always supported with solid evidence. Here are some of these assertions:

1. Accuracy Claims: Companies may claim that their instruments are extremely accurate without providing comparative data or evidence from third-party testing. Accuracy can vary widely depending on conditions, and without rigorous testing data, these claims can be questionable.

2. Superiority Over Competitors: Vendors often assert that their products are superior to competing products in terms of performance, reliability, or features. However, these claims may lack impartial verification and can be based largely on anecdotal evidence or biased internal studies.

3. Longevity and Durability: Claims about the long lifespan and robustness of instruments are common, especially in marketing materials. While many instruments are indeed durable, these assertions may not always be supported by systematic longevity studies or real-world usage data.

4. Maintenance and Support: Promises regarding low maintenance costs or excellent customer support can be critical selling points. However, these are not always backed by transparent service records or customer feedback. This type of claim often relies on general reputation rather than specific, demonstrable evidence.

5. Ease of Use: Assertions about the user-friendliness and ease of integration of instruments into existing systems are frequent. These claims can be subjective and may not consider the full range of user experiences or the specific conditions under which the instruments are used.

6. Cost-effectiveness: Claims that certain instruments offer better cost-effectiveness may not take into account the total cost of ownership, including maintenance, calibration, and necessary training over time. Such assertions often lack a comprehensive analysis.

These assertions are typically intended to highlight the strengths of a product or service but require a critical eye and demand for evidence, especially for significant investments or when operational reliability is critical.

Now, some of the items above we can argue with. Some are really just the same thing put in different ways. Maybe it hasn’t really answered the question in the way we intended. None of this is the point.

ChatGPT just gave us the sort of analysis which it might take even an industry expert hours to come up with. About an industry which we probably think is too niche for it to ‘know’ much about.

And this is merely a simple question to start with. We can easily go much deeper.

I’m not recommending that we use ideas generated like this as a basis for generating strategy. That would be ridiculous. But to raise issues which we might not have thought about, it’s already a tool which can be revelatory. I’m only just beginning to get my head around it.

The challenge to us is to be creative enough to think up questions it could answer that might give us eureka moments.