RBJ Masthead

June 21, 2024

By: Caurie Putnam

How Generative AI can help small businesses in the not-so-distant future

John Loury

John Loury, president and co-founder of Rochester-based Cause + Effect Strategy – a business intelligence and analytics consulting firm – likens generative AI to a sportscar.

“I would consider gen AI like the potential for a Ferrari in your garage — it’s super exciting and could be an amazing thing, but it also packs a lot of power,” Loury said.

“With an untrained driver, it’s not that they would intend to do something bad, but they could,” Loury said. “If I had a Ferrari in my garage I’d be taking some serious driving lessons before I hit the street.”

In incorporating generative AI into a business of any size, Loury points to the need for a strong foundation built on a careful and strategic plan — something that can sometimes be overlooked with the excitement of a new technology, especially one as powerful as generative AI.

“You also need to do your due diligence from a data perspective,” Loury said.

“Creating a solid foundation in data is important and one of the keys to successes in generative AI, because generative AI in particular requires tremendous amounts of data, not only to get off the ground but also to learn.”

Data governance is also an important part of using and understanding generative AI, Loury said, as is building or using systems that are transparent, explainable and fair.

“Governance is something that is a critical component to ensure that your AI implementation is ethical, legal and trustworthy and mitigates the potential reputational and legal risks,” he said.

Among the benefits of generative AI during this first wave of use, Loury points to it being a tremendous tool from an automation standpoint and also in helping people process large amounts of data. He also notes its value in programming, chatbot integration, marketing, customer service engagement and personalization.

“A generative AI initiative is not fairy dust, though, it’s not a magic trick,” Loury cautions. “It’s an amazing technology, but it’s just technology. It’s not going to do things for you. You have to set it and chart the course.”