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AI chatbots are already being used to send personalized emails. It shows how AI like ChatGPT could soon play a significant role in business, with companies like Salesforce and Microsoft starting to offer tighter integration between the chatbot and their software.
A recent viral Tiktok showed how it is possible to use ChatGPT integrated with Google Sheets to write ten customized LinkedIn messages to managers requesting a meeting. It identified different potential companies in an industry and their CEOs, and generated different outreach notes for each, including a unique question to ask.
“I think we’re at a very interesting inflection point in how we’re going to start using AI in the future in our daily lives that wasn’t as readily available even six months ago, before ChatGPT was more readily available to the public,” said Alex Klufas, a creator who make videos focused on working in the technology industry.
The video — and previous viral posts showing similar techniques — clearly struck a nerve, with 2.5 million views and scores of comments asking how it worked.
Generative AI and tools using large language model (LLM) techniques like ChatGPT have led to a boom as both big tech companies and startups race to integrate software that can produce content that resembles something a human would write.
Few LLM based products actually make money. Microsoft and Google are working to integrate chatbots at the next level into search engines. Companies are working on using these bots to write marketing copy or computer code.
There is one particularly promising application that could be commercialized in the near future: using the power of a chatbot to quickly write and automate emails with little personalization, perhaps for sales, marketing or personal networking. Microsoft and Salesforce announced new products this week with exactly that feature.
Financial analysts at Credit Suisse pointed to the generation of emails several times in a note earlier this month as a concrete and short-term use of the technology. The analysts estimated that Microsoft’s recently announced AI-generated sales capabilities could help it gain market share and potentially add over $768 million in annual revenue.
Products entering the market
On Tuesday, Salesforce announced its LLM product called EinsteinGPT, which uses an OpenAI ChatGPT model. It can automatically write marketing emails—a logical integration since Salesforce’s main product is a web app that tracks how often salespeople contact leads.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff demonstrated the software, using it to identify two contacts at a company, then automatically generate a one-sentence email trying to set up a meeting. In the demo, EinsteinGPT mitigated the cold email outreach after the user told the software to be less formal.
Salesforce has not yet set a price for the tools but said it is now being tested with pilot customers.
Microsoft announced Monday that it would integrate generative AI based on ChatGPT into a set of tools for businesses called CoPilot. One of its primary functions is to use AI to generate emails.
In a demo video, Microsoft showed the feature integrated into an Outlook mailbox and gave examples of how it is used to respond to a request for proposal or to propose a meeting time with a customer.
In the example, an incoming email wanted to follow up on a potential sales deal, and Microsoft’s feature offered four different draft responses, including one that offered a discount and another that fixed a problem.
Microsoft says its AI email writer can take important context from the email thread, such as the price discussed earlier, and embed it into the AI-drafted response. In the example from Microsoft, the user takes the AI draft and edits it before sending it.
Microsoft’s feature is currently in beta testing, but will be released to customers of Microsoft’s Viva Sales feature on March 15, the company said Monday.
Some startups have even trained their sights on developing custom AIs that can respond to messages the same way their owners would, by analyzing a user’s past email and text interactions and integrating it into a personalized AI- model.
“The advantage is people who would like to communicate with you where you don’t have time to get back to them, where you don’t have time to offer your mind,” says Suman Kanuganti, founder of personal.ai, a chatbot currently in beta mode. “In these scenarios, you can choose to either let your AI help you in co-pilot mode or offer (automatic) responses to them in autopilot mode.”
Some worry that the ability to generate email text could be misused to spam people and that chatbots could be used to phish people’s private passwords.
“We could see mass-targeted messages and spam that were indistinguishable from dedicated email,” JPMorgan analysts wrote in a note this month examining the AI industry.
ChatGPT is also prone to “hallucinating” or making things up. It just predicts what the next word or part of a phrase should be based on statistics, and doesn’t know if it’s correct or not.
Microsoft said in its announcement that it would use data from its software to ground answers in fact, and has a thumbs-down button so users can tell the bot that an answer wasn’t helpful. It helps train the model to avoid the same mistakes in the future. A Salesforce manager previously told CNBC that it moved as quickly as possible without compromising a responsible, ethical approach.
But the limits of ChatGPT were clearly visible in the viral TikTok video. While some recommendations were accurate, several of the CEOs ChatGPT recommended for outreach were either former CEOs or are not currently an executive at the company. Even if the text for the cold outreach looked appropriate, it would probably still require a human to make sure everything was actually correct.
“I think anyone using this technology, as nascent as it is, needs to do that due diligence,” Klufas said. She didn’t end up sending the notes created by ChatGPT because she’s not currently looking for a job.
But she’s still excited to use ChatGPT to help her make TikToks and other social media content. Her latest application is using ChatGPT to produce TikTok captions filled with keywords that make her videos easier to find online.