ChatGPT will be celebrating one year since its launch at the end of November, a moment that many believe was a turning point for artificial intelligence (AI) leaving the realm of fiction and entering the mainstream.

The popularity of OpenAI’s breakout generative AI (GenAI) chatbot can not be understated. Four days after its launch on 30 November 2022, the site set the record for the fastest sign up of one million users.

Since then, ChatGPT has expanded into something much bigger than it was on release. Constant updates to its AI model, most recently the release of GPT-4 Turbo, have moved the tool from something users were using to write silly rap songs to something used by by 92% of Fortune 500 companies.

The release of ChatGPT Enterprise in August, designed exclusively for businesses and corporate users, cemented the tool’s impact within industry while also providing an extra revenue stream for the company.

OpenAI’s release of custom GPTs in November, which allow anyone to build their own versions of the conversational AI system, means that there could soon be an infinite number of custom made GenAI chatbots.

Tech companies like Google and Meta have scrambled to stay relevant in the GenAI space since ChatGPT’s launch. Google infamously released its chatbot swiftly in March, following it making a public mistake during a demonstration in February.

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Google’s executives have gone on to fight back against claims that the company “rushed” the release of Bard to compete with Microsoft, which invested $100m in OpenAI in January.

ChatGPT, the groundbreaking chatbot that started as a playful tool for silliness, has grown into something truly industry changing, and possibly even societal changing. Welcoming 100 million weekly users on to its platform just two months after its launch, it has captured the world’s imagination. But it’s not without its issues.

How has ChatGPT affected businesses?

ChatGPT has clearly had a profound effect on many industries and professions. Verdict recently reported that Filippo Bonsanti, VP of global marketing at job hiring giant, Indeed, said that every single job will be transformed by AI in some way. 

Indeed’s AI at Work report, released in September, found that almost a fifth (19.8%) of jobs face the highest level of potential exposure, while over a third (34.6%) face the lowest potential exposure.

The undeniably biggest impact of ChatGPT so far, however, is how businesses are integrating it into their processes to “work smarter”.

Companies in varying industries are using the chatbot to drive efficiency, or in some cases to create whole new services for customers at a fraction of the cost. 

Chris Clark, distinguished solutions engineer at cloud-based collaborative platform Slack, tells Verdict that ChatGPT was a watershed moment that is set to eliminate “a lot of time-consuming tasks.”

Since the launch of ChatGPT last year, Clark has seen over 9,000 apps built in Slack through ChatGPT and rival chatbot Anthropic’s Claude. 

From researching information to transcribing or synthesising notes and even creating decks, ChatGPT will help “free employees to focus on the more human aspects of work and collaboration that only they can do,” Clark says. 

Technology expert Leon Gauhman, digital product consultancy at Elsewhen, believes that companies should embrace ChatGPT and GenAI as a whole. 

“Imagine having a highly capable AI-enabled tool that helps with the dull, predictable elements of your job, freeing you to be more creative,” Gauhman tells Verdict, “a new generation of AI copilot tools will move beyond conversational interfaces, to radically rethink how we work.”

“These copilot tools will weave intelligence into tasks to help boost productivity and performance, replacing the enterprise tools we are familiar with,” he adds.

Companies have been using ChatGPT, or similar technologies, to completely automate their processes too, in some cases completely removing the need for a human. 

“Automation is the process of systematising essential, but repetitive, tasks through tools or software,” Gareth Hoyle, managing director at Marketing Signals, tells Verdict. 

Aimee, a GenAI chatbot launched last year by BT, is currently being utilised by the telecoms giant for a variety of functions, including telling users about the status of a bill, altering subscriptions and more. 

“In the future, Aimee will be able to know what features are needed for certain customers – even if they don’t exist yet,” Kevin Lee, BT’s chief digital officer (CDO), said at the Chatbot Summit 2023.

“Because Aimee has been harvesting its large language model across millions of customers a day, she will start to know what features we actually need to build for that particular customer,” Lee said.

Has ChatGPT been positive for business?

Despite the number of businesses integrating ChatGPT, some have remained sceptical on how much the technology has truly delivered for businesses, as well as the myriad of issues GenAI possesses.

Laura Petrone, analyst at research company GlobalData, believes it is still too early to say that ChatGPT has been a game-changer for businesses and says that separating hype from reality is important.

Petrone notes that companies shouldn’t underestimate the shortcomings of the technology, including misinformation and hallucinations.

Hallucinations, when GenAI produces false or misleading information, are one of the most pressing risks in the use of ChatGPT. 

Despite OpenAI CEO Sam Altman spinning hallucinations as one of AI’s “powers” in September, there is a genuine danger to consider that AI systems like ChatGPT have the potential to deceive or manipulate individuals and spread misinformation. 

“While this may change with future versions, it is possible that this might be a limitation of the technology itself,” Petrone tells Verdict.

In law, for example, countries such as the UAE, China, Canada, some parts of the US, and the UK Supreme Court have allowed the use of AI in court proceedings.

However, this may prove to be a reckless decision, Carlos Quizon, analyst at GlobalData, writes in a Verdict blog post on 27 October.

“AI has been found to manipulate evidence, breach confidentiality, and create biased decisions based on pre-existing judgment,” says Quzion, “as a result, AI could potentially increase the number of wrongly convicted criminals.”

Despite the issues that need addressing, Petrone believes that ChatGPT will change the landscape greatly.

“For the first time, we have a tool that generates content and language on its own and can perform sophisticated writing and research tasks in a way that previously required highly skilled people,” Petrone said.

Adding: “This could significantly disrupt several white-collar professions, though its actual impact on productivity will only become clear in time.”`