Every once in a while a truly revolutionary new technology comes along*. And one of the things that differentiate revolutionary technologies is that we don’t always quite know how to fully exploit them at first, but eventually they change everything, forever.
For example, electricity
In the very early days of electrification most factories were powered by steam. A large steam engine would drive machinery across the factory through a series of shafts, pulls and belts.
There were a number of drawbacks to this centralization. Reliability was limited by the complex arrangement of moving parts needing constant lubrication. Efficiency was limited by the large transmission losses involved. And flexibility was limited by having to start and stop the whole factory at the same time, and by the need to ideally locate equipment close to the power source.
When electrification arrived came the obvious approach was to replace the dirty and unreliable steam engine with a large electric motor and let business continue as usual.
But it took a whole generation of managers to realize that electricity allowed us to think about things differently. Moving electricity around the factory is a lot easier than transferring kinetic energy, and so instead of one large motor, we could use many small motors.
No more maintenance of complex mechanical transmission linkages. The ability to start and stop individual machines as required. And most importantly the ability to build flatter factory layouts in the shape of a production line rather than the multi-story factories with workstations closely clustered around a single motor or engine. The electric motor was one of the primary enablers of modern production and led to an explosion in productivity.
Back to AI
We are already noticing a similar trend with AI. Rather than rethink the process of content production entirely we are using AI to swap out the tedious things we already understand. For example, we use image generation to speed up content production. But are we re-considering the content production process and value chain itself?
Make no mistake, current applications of AI are ingenious – we are seeing truly innovative work as a result. But we are still holding on to some very fundamental assumptions.
Such as – content takes time to produce, content requires resources and such resources are finite. We’ve built our equivalent of the shaft and pulley system to manage around these limitations. We plan, organize, schedule, structure and research to make sure that we get the right content to the right place at the right time.
The Content Management System for AI
In a world where content can be created instantly without the use of finite resources we don’t need the complex management process that we have spent years perfecting. Content can be created just-in-time at the moment of need. Like switching on an electric motor.
What are the implications of this in the communications and marketing world?
The elimination of these basic constraints enables us to be fundamentally more responsive, more spontaneous, more timely and engaging.
At the same time, the software stacks that we have embedded in to our work flows, such as content management systems will also need to be re-thought.
For example, the existing notion of a content management system that stores static content needs to be replaced with the concept of an AI CMS – something that can store briefing information to enable dynamic content creation at the exact point of need. Or, the equivalent of a small motor that can be switched on as needed instead of a behemoth content management system.
AI is more than just a supporting tool. It is a revolutionary technology, which means that everything is up for reinvention. From our basic assumptions, to the processes and tooling that we use and ultimately to the level of engagement that we can create. – let’s continue to think about how this can change everything, forever.
*Not in this list: Blockchain & Metaverse. In this list: AI.