BY SAHAR HASHMI, MD-PHD
ChatGPT plugins are becoming the new cool trend among entrepreneurs to enhance their businesses and engage more customers. Here are some insights into how they're impacting business enterprises, along with some potential risks that may accompany the benefits.
Just like revolutionary technologies such as the internet, computers/laptops, iPads, iPhones, and many more, generative AI is the new technology in the era of 2023, changing everything around us at an exponentially fast pace. Generative artificial intelligence has enormous potential to revolutionize various aspects of our lives even faster than the internet or the iPhone did. It impacts our lives in numerous ways: the way we work online, study and learn, conduct business, communicate, write or express ourselves, create art or videos, analyze data, make informed decisions, discover drugs or conduct research, and manage patients in hospitals and clinics, to name a few.
Similarly, the expectations are changing in terms of how entrepreneurs enhance their businesses and their ability to engage customers using generative AI. This includes using useful and meaningful ChatGPT prompts or getting trained to incorporate ChatGPT into their workflows or business enterprise in the form of a new feature called a ChatGPT plugin.
While large enterprises like Microsoft, Salesforce, Bain, and many more are adopting ChatGPT within their workflows to improve the performance of their workforce, the enterprises that have taken the lead in developing plugins to attract customers include but are not limited to: Expedia, FiscalNote, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, Milo, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Speak, Wolfram and Zapier.
What are ChatGPT plugins?
Let's take a step back and understand what a ChatGPT plugin is and how it impacts the organization, app or product that gets plugged into ChatGPT.
ChatGPT plugins are new add-ons to an individual's ChatGPT interactions. These are essentially beta features within ChatGPT developed by OpenAI and third-party vendors (startups/entrepreneurs).
Designed as an add-on, ChatGPT plugins can be seamlessly integrated into the interactions with the AI chatbot. Its primary purpose is to furnish users with supplementary information on topics that pique their interest during chatbot sessions. For instance, if someone finds themselves in need of a last-minute flight, the inclusion of either Expedia or Kayak plugins within their ChatGPT browser enables them to solicit the chatbot's assistance in locating a flight tailored precisely to their individual requirements.
These plugins utilize data from an organization, product or app to generate texts based on customers' specific needs or inquiries. While ChatGPT itself is trained on a dataset dating back to the year 2021, using data from these plugins allows it to generate responses that are recent and up-to-date.
Thus, with these recent ChatGPT plugins, data can be fetched from the internet in real-time, allowing users to inquire about the weather in their area on the same day. There are currently around eighty ChatGPT plugins available for users within their own ChatGPT accounts through the plugin store. However, there is a limitation of using only three plugins at a time, as the plugins are still in their early testing beta stage.
3 potential ways ChatGPT plugins can be beneficial for business enterprises
In the generative AI intelligent chatbot and ChatGPT market, the latest trend for entrepreneurs and business enterprises is to develop ChatGPT plugins (add-on features) for their business products.
Enhance business operations and boost productivity. An illustrative example is the implementation of a ChatGPT plugin in the domain of grocery shopping by Instacart. By incorporating a ChatGPT plugin, the process of ordering groceries online has been markedly expedited and simplified. Customers can now enjoy personalized meal recommendations and the add-on automatically generates a new order for the customers. As a result, it ultimately lead to improved business operations and heightened productivity.
Enterprises can effectively engage a larger customer base. Take, for instance, Khan Academy, established in 2006 with the noble purpose of delivering free, world-class education to all students. With the passage of time, their user base skyrocketed to nearly 20 million per month, primarily because of their provision of concise online videos and an engaging and effective teaching approach. Recently, they introduced ChatGPT as an add-on to their platform — a customized AI tutor called Khanmigo. This innovative AI tool not only assists students in efficiently navigating online videos and practicing exams but also actively engages teachers by aiding them in designing new, innovative teaching lesson plans. Consequently, the customer base expanded from students to include teachers.
Give enterprises a competitive advantage in the market. These chatGPT plugins offer significant benefits to business owners or enterprises that encounter fierce competition in the market, particularly in domains like online shopping assistants, virtual assistants, etc. As shopping apps such as Klarna and Shop's ChatGPT plugins were among the first to be included in the ChatGPT plugin list, there is a higher likelihood that customers will use these plugins, providing these apps with a competitive edge over their market rivals.
However, it's important to note that with benefits, there are also associated risks that can potentially lead to harm. Here are a few to keep in mind, acknowledging that there can be many more that can be added to this list:
If any misinformation, hallucination or glitches occur in ChatGPT, that could give customers a negative perception of the plugins.
There are concerns regarding the safety, privacy and potential bias in the responses generated by ChatGPT plugins as well as the lack of regulation.
All of the above concerns are particularly relevant considering that ChatGPT plugins are still in their beta version, and there is room for improvement.
At the end of the day, amid the prevailing stress and uncertainty in life, we all yearn for business enterprises or startups that can simplify and enrich our lives through engagement with generative AI applications. These ChatGPT plugins, even in their beta phase, possess the potential to bring about positive transformations in human lives and thus could lead customers toward a future that is more efficient, convenient, and productive.
Dr. Sahar Hashmi is the CEO of Myriad Consulting, LLC and a Harvard faculty member. She is an MD with a Ph.D. from MIT's business school and has a master's in systems design. Her expertise includes generative AI, modern care delivery, digital health & transformation and the metaverse.