AI has been probably the talking point 0f 2023, especially in terms of creativity, hence the WGA and the SAG AFTRA strikes in the US.

And much of the focus has, quite rightly, been on the threat posed to businesses and agencies particularly creative ones by AI.

But what about the huge benefits to us, in terms of the time it can save us from doing the doing and focus on growing or agencies, and the creative part of our jobs and our teams’ jobs that we love?

We were recently lucky enough to have had a brilliant session from one of our members, Scott Bowler, founder of DCS Digital. He took us through some of the ways he has been able to free up time using both AI and automation to minimise the amount of time that he has to spend on the nuts and bolts elements of running an agency.

The McKinsey Report

The recent McKinsey report (No, not that one, this one: The state of AI in 2023: Generative AI’s breakout year) stated that businesses overall could save up to 60 to 70% of employees’ time. This would obviously have a phenomenal impact on the way that we do our day-to-day jobs, however, as Scott observed, even saving 20% of our time would allow us to switch to running a four day work week.

“With the four day work week, you've got two approaches. One is compress a full week's work into four days, or reduce the amount of work you do by 20%, reduce your capacity by 20%. That one's a lot more interesting to me, and that's what I'm doing at the moment.”

Scott Bowler

But how can AI save us time?

There are numerous tools available, both AI based and automation based which can be used together to create AI supported algorithms, with specific triggers such as receiving an email.

Email triage

“An email arrives, you get a notification, you go and check what's going on in your email.

Or even worse, you don't wait for a notification every 10 minutes. You're checking your outlook. You have a think about what that email is for, you decide what need to do with that email, and then you perhaps delegate it, create tasks, reply to that person, and then you try to get back into your workflow.

You've forgotten what you're doing, or you lose momentum and it slows down everything else. If this happens 10 times per day and it takes six minutes each time you do this, potentially you're losing up to five hours per week.”

Scott Bowler

This. BLEW. OUR. MINDS! Imagine what we could all do with an extra five hours in our week!

But what do we actually need to do to make this work?

You get what you give

The answer is being specific in what you’re asking in the first place. The setting up of this is going to take you time and will involve plenty of tweaking the prompts and also the responses along the way:

“I was especially nervous 'cause when I first launched this, It still had a few rough edges, and I initially asked it to reply with British English thinking that it would respond using UK spellings, but it actually started replying like it was a Lord. You'd get some very odd replies to customers.

And I also gave it more leeway, I asked it to contextually understand what the email was about and make a note on that. It would FreeWheel a response. If we take this one for example, it would start talking about the physical vouchers. It would start talking about gift vouchers.

It would start saying all sorts of stuff about light speed and the integration. So It'd go massively off topic. And what I decided at that point was to narrow it down a little bit and only allow it to respond in a certain way, which is what you saw on that prompt when I said, this is how I want you to respond.”

Scott Bowler

Being honest about using AI

You may feel a little bit nervous about using AI and automation in this way, especially with regards to how clients and prospects may respond. However, as with so many things, the answer is openness and honesty:

“In these early stages, you perhaps want to tell people it's AI. I do have a little disclaimer at the bottom saying, please know, Amy is an experimental AI support assistant.

The other guardrail I put up is initially I only let it respond to specific clients. Clients I had a really good relationship with and clients who I told beforehand that we are rolling this out as an experiment. But the feedback I've had from people is overwhelmingly positive because they know we are not wasting our time doing task admin.

They know they get an instant response. They also know immediately when a task is going to be worked on. And it allows both sides to get to that point of understanding really quickly.”

Scott Bowler

AI: You never know until you have a go

It may be that AI and automation is not the way you want to go with your agency. However, given the plethora of free and budget tools available, it may be worth looking into so that us humans can get about doing what we do best; being our brilliant and creative selves.

If you'd like to learn more about the impact of AI on agencies, why not join us at our conference, AI Insights: Exploring Impact on Agencies on 18th October? To find out more, click here.
Scott Bowler

Scott is an AI enthusiast and technology expert with more than 20 years of experience in programming and development. He is the founder of DCS Digital, a digital agency that focuses on delivering innovative solutions to businesses.

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