MOLLY WOOD: Immediately I’m speaking to James Thomas, international head of know-how at Dentsu Inventive, about his group’s early expertise with generative AI at work. Dentsu is among the world’s largest international inventive companies and was additionally one of many first to check out Copilot for Microsoft 365 as a part of Microsoft’s Early Entry Program. James has a report from the entrance traces. He shares how incorporating generative AI into on a regular basis operations has reworked his crew’s workflows. And he talks about what enterprise leaders ought to have in mind as they start getting their fingers on this know-how too. James, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.
JAMES THOMAS: Thanks for having me. It’s nice to be right here.
MOLLY WOOD: Okay, so Dentsu was one of many first firms to check out Microsoft’s Copilot as a part of its Early Entry Program. Inform us about it. What has the expertise been like for the groups that took it out for a check drive?
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah, so, an enormous quantity of individuals needed to get their fingers on it. Sadly, we didn’t have that many licenses. However the fortunate 300 or in order that acquired entry is mostly a actual sport changer. Lots of people can’t see themselves going again to how they used to work earlier than. Individuals see the efficiencies. They see the standard of their output being improved and the standard of their collaboration, significantly in inventive roles. You understand, numerous time is spent planning—advanced manufacturing conferences and artistic periods the place numerous notes and numerous motion and subsequent steps are wanted to be created, numerous advanced budgetary Excel paperwork to handle, even simply summarizing a protracted electronic mail chain. You understand, these financial savings and efficiencies are large. It means individuals can get straight onto the duties that they’re speculated to do.
MOLLY WOOD: How has AI impacted the inventive course of at Dentsu?
JAMES THOMAS: So within the precise inventive course of itself, you recognize, ideation, we’d sometimes work with a shopper in what we name a chemistry session, which is, you recognize, we get everybody in a room, we’ll actually simply form of collaborate, provide you with some nice concepts over a couple of hours. Usually then what occurs is we’d go away as an company and we might come again, you recognize, days, weeks, generally even months later with some inventive therapy, visualizations of those concepts, proper? And, uh, it’s taken months to even get to that stage. By utilizing Copilot in Groups and DALL-E, we are able to ideate whereas we’re within the room with a shopper. We will sketch down concepts into Phrase and have ChatGPT increase that out into thought out concepts. We will create visualizations in DALL-E. The laborious bit with inventive is attempting to carry different individuals on board with the thought you have got in your head. And, uh, the extra inventive the thought, the tougher it’s to attempt to get it to individuals. So the thought of having the ability to actually visualize issues in a short time or simply take a couple of traces of copy and instantly flip that into some form of proposal is big. And once more, it simply means we are able to get going quick with the shopper. We all know the place the lifeless ends are and we all know, proper, that is the fitting concept. And it simply helped us to iterate rather a lot quicker. I believe numerous these use instances are ones we hadn’t considered earlier than. You understand, creatives, I believe it’s truthful to say, have been fairly apprehensive about this know-how when it was changing into extra widespread, you recognize, like, like numerous us—what does it imply for the longer term, their work, their jobs, humanity—however, you recognize, now I believe inventive individuals have seen that it’s truly only a instrument of their toolkit and it means they will get to their concepts rather a lot quicker. Actually, because the Copilot deployment at Dentsu has proven, yeah, we’ve acquired a ready listing of 1000’s. We will’t get these instruments in individuals’s fingers quick sufficient.
MOLLY WOOD: What was that preparation like? As a result of I do assume the inventive realm is kind of an area the place the straightforward reply is, we’ll get all this effectivity and that can enable us extra time to be inventive. However speak somewhat bit extra concerning the evolution, like as you began to find, oh, this works within the strategy of being inventive as properly.
JAMES THOMAS: I believe everyone seems to be utilizing it in numerous methods. What we have now achieved very well, due to Dominic Shine, our CIO, and Brian Klochkoff, who’s enabling all these companies at Dentsu in a scaled means, we have now actually nice workplace hour conferences, city halls, the place all the customers are coming collectively, sharing their very own suggestions and methods they’ve discovered. Um, so we’ve actually put numerous work into serving to individuals know the way to use it.
MOLLY WOOD: What do you think about as you go ahead and finally all people has this, and these efficiencies begin to pile on prime of one another? What do you think about that can enable?
JAMES THOMAS: Effectively, that’s a fantastic query. I believe significantly, and I can solely actually converse for inventive, however what we’ve been battling in opposition to for fairly a couple of years is that want from CMOs for nearly limitless content material—simply continuous content material, new variations, new iterations for brand spanking new channels and the whole lot else. Due to that, and since numerous the workflows have been handbook, you may automate some issues, however what it meant was creatives have been actually up in opposition to it, overloaded, proper? And so they have been simply churning out plenty of completely different iterations and never having the time to spend on the upfront inventive concept. The concept of having the ability to use AI and know-how to generate content material, generate copy, generate photos, it frees up the time that creatives must be inventive. Creativity shouldn’t be a quick course of, normally. You want time, you want area to assume via these concepts. But when you recognize, oh, I’ve acquired to create a thousand variations of this concept, I don’t have too lengthy to consider the thought in itself. I’ve to get on and make all these variations. But when I do know I can provide you with a very nice concept, marketing campaign, set of belongings that I can take rather a lot longer to do, after which use generative AI and different know-how to assist scale that, infinitely nearly, then that’s a fantastic place to be. And that’s what everybody needs. Everybody needs the absolute best concept.
MOLLY WOOD: Speak somewhat bit extra concerning the help within the inventive course of. You understand, I’ve spoken to people who find themselves utilizing ChatGPT, for instance, to brainstorm concepts or, you recognize, please problem me on this, or to form of bat round ideas. I ponder how a lot of that’s taking place with you, that precise interplay within the inventive course of and iterating and possibly utilizing these instruments to proceed to generate or enhance in your concepts.
JAMES THOMAS: Nobody likes to begin with a clean web page. You understand, it turns into very fast and straightforward to simply throw down a couple of concepts, get them scaled out into, you recognize, from one line right into a paragraph, from a paragraph right into a proposal. However then it additionally lets you—as a result of you will get extra concepts out, it means you possibly can hopefully get to a greater concept faster. Once more, all this stuff enable for extra creativity, and it helps if you’re promoting the thought to individuals since you might be like, look, that is the message, however look, right here’s how we inform it to your 10 completely different audiences.
MOLLY WOOD: You’ve been utilizing this for some time and it, you recognize, kind of sounds prefer it’s sunk in for you, however was there a second when it blew your thoughts?
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah, I imply, a few issues that hold wowing me each time is, you recognize, I spend my life in conferences, on Groups largely, and the observe taking, the transcribing, and the motion steps—and likewise, in the event you be a part of a gathering late then simply form of recapping what’s occurred to date. The accuracy is unimaginable and I’m again to again in conferences, so sadly, very often I’m somewhat bit late for the following one. I can hit recap assembly and I’ll be in control right away. It’s far more correct than the assembly notes I take or anybody else I do know takes. So that’s all the time an enormous one for me. And in addition, I journey rather a lot and I get numerous emails. So catching up on emails is all the time a fairly daunting job whereas on the transfer or getting back from vacation. And now simply having the ability to summarize lengthy electronic mail chains in Outlook with Copilot is nice. I don’t want to sit down via these 30 emails on this one topic. I can get a two-paragraph abstract on what’s occurred and who’s doing what.
MOLLY WOOD: So let’s speak about recommendation to enterprise leaders by way of adopting this and integrating it into a company, particularly within the inventive trade, as a result of such as you mentioned, there’s— [interruption] What occurred?
JAMES THOMAS: In order that’s my computerized cat timer. And it’s my voice telling my cat it’s meal time. Fairly embarrassing.
MOLLY WOOD: That’s unimaginable. You actually have all of it. You’ve gotten all of the toys.
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah, I didn’t know that may get picked up.
MOLLY WOOD: There’s a timer that tells your cat that it’s meal time in your personal voice? Oh my god.
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah.
MOLLY WOOD: Okay, so that you’ve given us some actually tactical examples to date on how Dentsu leaders are incorporating Copilot into their workflows. What could be your recommendation for different enterprise leaders who haven’t gotten their fingers on it but? What ought to they be maintaining in thoughts as they get began?
JAMES THOMAS: We’re an enormous holding group. So, you recognize, there’s equal worth in inventive as there’s within the finance crew, as there’s within the HR crew. Everybody’s utilizing it another way, and I believe serving to to carry individuals collectively. Assist them to share their findings and their perception on how they’ve been utilizing it, and likewise promote it to them within the use instances they perceive. In the event you’re speaking to a inventive a part of your corporation, speak to them concerning the inventive use instances. You understand, they won’t be so excited by what you are able to do in an Excel doc, however they’ll be very excited by a few of the different use instances which are rather more particular to their world. So I believe possibly tailoring it to your viewers will assist drive the adoption.
MOLLY WOOD: As you have got described it to date, it kind of seems like these are instruments that can permit you to sustain with and succeed within the media world that we stay in now, proper? The place there are, such as you mentioned, completely different fashions and completely different distribution shops and other ways to get consideration. As soon as you’re feeling caught up, are you able to think about how this might additionally aid you create new enterprise fashions and companies?
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah, completely. And I believe the know-how with Microsoft and OpenAI, and what we are able to do with ChatGPT and DALL-E and the way by way of APIs we are able to begin to plug this stuff collectively and construct out instruments. One factor we launched this 12 months, actually to form of meet this problem, is what we’re calling the Technical Supply Middle of Excellence. It’s a mixture of expertise from our India, Brazil, and Poland groups, innovation and generative AI consultants and specialists. And we’re actually scaling these groups with a view to meet the demand of what’s coming. And what’s coming is numerous customized experiences, numerous customized platforms and instruments. You understand, we’re already doing award-winning work. We had two awards at Cannes this 12 months, the highest two awards, the Grand Prix awards—one for Scrolling Remedy and one for The Inflation Cookbook, each AI-powered instruments. There are such a lot of completely different merchandise. Additionally, constructing customized fashions and customized algorithms, you recognize, that’s the place numerous the IP and numerous the differentiators will come. This know-how goes to be out there to everybody—manufacturers, companies. Everybody’s going to have the ability to come up with it, however it’s the way you piece it collectively, how good you might be at constructing a customized mannequin. They are saying you can provide anybody a guitar, however not everybody can play it the identical, or play it properly, proper? Simply because you have got instruments or have entry to these items doesn’t imply you’re going to be efficient with it. So yeah, I believe there are such a lot of alternatives if these applied sciences and experiences can allow extra consideration and extra engagement and finally extra gross sales, more often than not, then that’s a superb factor for everybody.
MOLLY WOOD: You’re to date forward of all people else, proper, in adopting these instruments and having this early entry. And so, I ponder, what do you say to AI skeptics, or people who find themselves reluctant to combine generative AI into their lives?
JAMES THOMAS: The most important false impression is that it’s simply going to take all people’s jobs. I imply, clearly AI has been round for a very long time, however generative AI particularly, clearly hit the massive time as a result of I suppose it’s a bit extra attractive. It’s a bit extra enjoyable. You possibly can log on and switch your self into Drake and make a music. You understand, there are such a lot of enjoyable issues that anybody can do. For individuals to have the ability to go on and simply create content material, it’s nice. And as a inventive, I’m all the time in this sort of slight battle with myself: I’m a inventive first, then a technologist. Something that may make individuals inventive is an effective factor, proper? You understand, if I can log on, and I won’t be the very best video editor or picture retoucher ever, but when I can create one thing and log on and AI can help me in bringing it to a a lot larger stage, then that’s nice. I believe everybody ought to have the ability to be inventive and create the issues they’ve of their thoughts with out know-how or talent, to a level, changing into a blocker. I reap the benefits of that on a regular basis. As I talked about earlier than, it’s simply discovering methods for individuals to be extra inventive and increase their workflows and make higher content material, or quicker content material. However you’re all the time going to wish people. You’re all the time going to wish the human really feel and human contact over this work. And it opens up new alternatives for careers and talent units and abilities as we see individuals moving into immediate engineering.
MOLLY WOOD: What’s, apart from feeding your cat, the most recent factor that AI has helped you with at work and never at work?
JAMES THOMAS: At work, it’s helped me to ship unimaginable work to shoppers, work that we’d by no means been capable of do with out this know-how. Personally, it’s enabled me, as I used to be speaking earlier, to create my very own content material higher. I even have a music profession I’ve had for a very long time, and that makes me need to launch different content material on a private observe. And yeah, the instruments to get that content material higher, edit it faster, quicker, enhance it’s nice.
MOLLY WOOD: What sort of music do you make?
JAMES THOMAS: All types, I work with numerous large hip-hop artists within the US to movie scores to manufacturers. I’ve achieved rather a lot. We used to do it full time for a very long time as properly.
MOLLY WOOD: What do you do with any additional time that AI creates for you?
JAMES THOMAS: Be taught concerning the subsequent factor that’s coming with AI, normally. [Laughs] You understand, everybody’s enthusiastic about generative AI and the place we’re proper now. My job, and my crew’s job, is all the time to be one step forward.
MOLLY WOOD: Quick forwarding three to 5 years, what do you assume would be the most profound change in the way in which we work?
JAMES THOMAS: Uh, wow, that’s a giant query. It’s truly actually laborious to consider the place issues are going to go. You understand, a 12 months in the past, we weren’t even desirous about generative AI, actually, you recognize, on essentially the most half, and look the place we are actually. So, it’s laborious to say, however I believe nearly all people in nearly something they do career-wise, you recognize, professionally, and as a shopper, will likely be leveraging AI of their day-to-day work, whether or not it’s Copilot, whether or not it’s specialist instruments. I believe everyone seems to be about to get much more environment friendly, hopefully rather a lot happier, taking a few of the legwork out of a few of the mundane duties, however I can’t see a world now the place individuals aren’t going to be leveraging AI to reinforce the way in which they work and the way in which they stay.
MOLLY WOOD: James Thomas is international head of know-how at Dentsu Inventive. Thanks a lot for the time.
JAMES THOMAS: Thanks a lot for the chance.
MOLLY WOOD: Thanks once more to James Thomas. And that’s it for this episode of WorkLab. Please subscribe and test again for the following episode, the place I’ll be speaking to Microsoft Chief Scientific Officer Eric Horvitz about how leaders can leverage the super potential of AI to greatest serve humanity. In the event you’ve acquired a query or a remark, drop us an electronic mail at email@example.com, and take a look at Microsoft’s Work Development Indexes and the WorkLab digital publication. There you’ll discover all of our episodes together with considerate tales that discover how enterprise leaders are thriving in at present’s new world of labor. You’ll find all of that at microsoft.com/worklab. As for this podcast, please price us, evaluate, and comply with us wherever you hear. It helps us out a ton. The WorkLab podcast is a spot for consultants to share their insights and opinions. As college students of the way forward for work, Microsoft values inputs from a various set of voices. That mentioned, the opinions and findings of our friends are their very own they usually might not essentially replicate Microsoft’s personal analysis or positions. WorkLab is produced by Microsoft with Godfrey Dadich Companions and Cheap Quantity. I’m your host, Molly Wooden. Sharon Kallander and Matthew Duncan produced this podcast. Jessica Voelker is the WorkLab editor.