MOLLY WOOD: At this time I’m speaking to James Thomas, international head of expertise at Dentsu Inventive, about his group’s early expertise with generative AI at work. Dentsu is without doubt one of the world’s largest international inventive businesses 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 strains. He shares how incorporating generative AI into on a regular basis operations has remodeled his staff’s workflows. And he talks about what enterprise leaders ought to take into account as they start getting their palms on this expertise 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 corporations 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 take a look at drive?
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah, so, an enormous quantity of individuals needed to get their palms on it. Sadly, we didn’t have that many licenses. However the fortunate 300 or in order that bought entry is known as a actual recreation 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 recognize, lots of time is spent planning—advanced manufacturing conferences and inventive classes the place lots of notes and lots of motion and subsequent steps are wanted to be created, lots of advanced budgetary Excel paperwork to handle, even simply summarizing a protracted electronic mail chain. You recognize, these financial savings and efficiencies are large. It means folks 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 already know, ideation, we might usually work with a consumer in what we name a chemistry session, which is, you already know, we get everybody in a room, we’ll actually simply sort of collaborate, provide you with some nice concepts over a number of hours. Sometimes then what occurs is we might go away as an company and we’d come again, you already know, days, weeks, generally even months later with some inventive remedy, 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 will ideate whereas we’re within the room with a consumer. We are able to sketch down concepts into Phrase and have ChatGPT develop that out into thought out concepts. We are able to create visualizations in DALL-E. The arduous bit with inventive is making an attempt to carry different folks on board with the thought you’ve got in your head. And, uh, the extra inventive the thought, the tougher it’s to attempt to get it to folks. So the thought of with the ability to actually visualize issues in a short time or simply take a number of strains of copy and all of a sudden flip that into some sort of proposal is big. And once more, it simply means we will get going quick with the consumer. We all know the place the lifeless ends are and we all know, proper, that is the precise thought. And it simply helped us to iterate so much sooner. I believe lots of these use instances are ones we hadn’t considered earlier than. You recognize, creatives, I believe it’s honest to say, had been fairly apprehensive about this expertise when it was changing into extra widespread, you already know, like, like lots of us—what does it imply for the longer term, their work, their jobs, humanity—however, you already know, now I believe inventive folks have seen that it’s truly only a instrument of their toolkit and it means they’ll get to their concepts so much sooner. Actually, because the Copilot deployment at Dentsu has proven, yeah, we’ve bought a ready listing of hundreds. We are able to’t get these instruments in folks’s palms 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 simple reply is, we are going to 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 technique of being inventive as properly.
JAMES THOMAS: I believe everyone seems to be utilizing it in several methods. What we now have performed very well, because of Dominic Shine, our CIO, and Brian Klochkoff, who’s enabling all these companies at Dentsu in a scaled means, we now have actually nice workplace hour conferences, city halls, the place the entire customers are coming collectively, sharing their very own ideas and methods they’ve discovered. Um, so we’ve actually put lots of work into serving to folks know easy methods to use it.
MOLLY WOOD: What do you think about as you go ahead and ultimately everyone has this, and these efficiencies begin to pile on prime of one another? What do you think about that can enable?
JAMES THOMAS: Nicely, that’s an important query. I believe significantly, and I can solely actually converse for inventive, however what we’ve been battling in opposition to for fairly a number of years is that want from CMOs for nearly limitless content material—simply continuous content material, new variations, new iterations for brand new channels and every thing else. Due to that, and since lots of the workflows had been guide, you possibly can automate some issues, however what it meant was creatives had been actually up in opposition to it, overloaded, proper? They usually had been simply churning out a number of completely different iterations and never having the time to spend on the upfront inventive thought. The concept of with the ability to use AI and expertise to generate content material, generate copy, generate photographs, it frees up the time that creatives have to be inventive. Creativity will not be a quick course of, often. You want time, you want area to assume via these concepts. But when you already know, oh, I’ve bought 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 extremely nice thought, marketing campaign, set of property that I can take so much longer to do, after which use generative AI and different expertise to assist scale that, infinitely virtually, then that’s an important place to be. And that’s what everybody desires. Everybody desires the absolute best thought.
MOLLY WOOD: Speak somewhat bit extra concerning the help within the inventive course of. You recognize, I’ve spoken to people who find themselves utilizing ChatGPT, for instance, to brainstorm concepts or, you already know, please problem me on this, or to sort of bat round ideas. I’m wondering how a lot of that’s occurring 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 start out with a clean web page. You recognize, it turns into very fast and straightforward to simply throw down a number of concepts, get them scaled out into, you already know, from one line right into a paragraph, from a paragraph right into a proposal. However then it additionally permits you to—as a result of you will get extra concepts out, it means you possibly can hopefully get to a greater thought faster. Once more, all this stuff enable for extra creativity, and it helps whenever you’re promoting the thought to folks 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 already know, 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 preserve wowing me each time is, you already know, I spend my life in conferences, on Groups principally, and the word taking, the transcribing, and the motion steps—and likewise, should you be a part of a gathering late then simply sort of recapping what’s occurred up to now. The accuracy is unbelievable 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 on top of things right away. It’s far more correct than the assembly notes I take or anybody else I do know takes. So that’s at all times an enormous one for me. And in addition, I journey so much and I get lots of emails. So catching up on emails is at all times a fairly daunting process whereas on the transfer or getting back from vacation. And now simply with the ability to summarize lengthy electronic mail chains in Outlook with Copilot is nice. I don’t want to take a seat 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 discuss recommendation to enterprise leaders by way of adopting this and integrating it into a company, particularly within the inventive business, as a result of such as you stated, 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 unbelievable. You actually have all of it. You will have all of the toys.
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah, I didn’t know that will 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 up to now on how Dentsu leaders are incorporating Copilot into their workflows. What can be your recommendation for different enterprise leaders who haven’t gotten their palms 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 already know, there’s equal worth in inventive as there’s within the finance staff, as there’s within the HR staff. Everybody’s utilizing it otherwise, and I believe serving to to carry folks 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. If you happen to’re speaking to a inventive a part of your online business, speak to them concerning the inventive use instances. You recognize, they may not be so occupied with what you are able to do in an Excel doc, however they’ll be very occupied with a number of the different use instances which might be rather more particular to their world. So I believe possibly tailoring it to your viewers will assist drive the adoption.
MOLLY WOOD: As you’ve got described it up to now, it kind of appears like these are instruments that can will let you sustain with and succeed within the media world that we dwell in now, proper? The place there are, such as you stated, completely different fashions and completely different distribution retailers and alternative ways to get consideration. As soon as you’re feeling caught up, are you able to think about how this could additionally make it easier to create new enterprise fashions and companies?
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah, completely. And I believe the expertise with Microsoft and OpenAI, and what we will do with ChatGPT and DALL-E and the way by way of APIs we will begin to plug this stuff collectively and construct out instruments. One factor we launched this 12 months, actually to sort of meet this problem, is what we’re calling the Technical Supply Heart of Excellence. It’s a mix of expertise from our India, Brazil, and Poland groups, innovation and generative AI consultants and specialists. And we’re actually scaling these groups so as to meet the demand of what’s coming. And what’s coming is lots of customized experiences, lots of customized platforms and instruments. You recognize, 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 already know, that’s the place lots of the IP and lots of the differentiators will come. This expertise goes to be obtainable to everybody—manufacturers, businesses. Everybody’s going to have the ability to come up with it, but it surely’s the way you piece it collectively, how good you’re at constructing a customized mannequin. They are saying you may give anybody a guitar, however not everybody can play it the identical, or play it properly, proper? Simply because you’ve got instruments or have entry to these things 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 in the end extra gross sales, more often than not, then that’s an excellent factor for everybody.
MOLLY WOOD: You’re up to now forward of everyone else, proper, in adopting these instruments and having this early entry. And so, I’m wondering, 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 everyone’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 horny. It’s a bit extra enjoyable. You may log on and switch your self into Drake and make a track. You recognize, there are such a lot of enjoyable issues that anybody can do. For folks to have the ability to go on and simply create content material, it’s nice. And as a inventive, I’m at all times in this type of slight battle with myself: I’m a inventive first, then a technologist. Something that may make folks inventive is an effective factor, proper? You recognize, if I can log on, and I won’t be one of the best video editor or photograph retoucher ever, but when I can create one thing and log on and AI can help me in bringing it to a a lot greater 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 expertise or talent, to a level, changing into a blocker. I benefit from that on a regular basis. As I talked about earlier than, it’s simply discovering methods for folks to be extra inventive and increase their workflows and make higher content material, or sooner content material. However you’re at all times going to wish people. You’re at all times 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 skills as we see folks stepping 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 unbelievable work to shoppers, work that we’d by no means been in a position to do with out this expertise. 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 word. And yeah, the instruments to get that content material higher, edit it faster, sooner, enhance it’s nice.
MOLLY WOOD: What sort of music do you make?
JAMES THOMAS: All types, I work with lots of large hip-hop artists within the US to movie scores to manufacturers. I’ve performed so much. 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, often. [Laughs] You recognize, everybody’s enthusiastic about generative AI and the place we’re proper now. My job, and my staff’s job, is at all times 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 best way we work?
JAMES THOMAS: Uh, wow, that’s an enormous query. It’s truly actually arduous to consider the place issues are going to go. You recognize, a 12 months in the past, we weren’t even occupied with generative AI, actually, you already know, on probably the most half, and look the place we are actually. So, it’s arduous to say, however I believe virtually everyone in virtually something they do career-wise, you already know, professionally, and as a shopper, might 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 so much happier, taking a number of the legwork out of a number of the mundane duties, however I can’t see a world now the place folks aren’t going to be leveraging AI to boost the best way they work and the best way they dwell.
MOLLY WOOD: James Thomas is international head of expertise 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 verify again for the following episode, the place I’ll be speaking to Microsoft Chief Scientific Officer Eric Horvitz about how leaders can leverage the large potential of AI to greatest serve humanity. If you happen to’ve bought 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 immediately’s new world of labor. Yow will discover all of that at microsoft.com/worklab. As for this podcast, please price us, evaluate, and comply with us wherever you pay attention. 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 stated, the opinions and findings of our company are their very own and so they could not essentially replicate Microsoft’s personal analysis or positions. WorkLab is produced by Microsoft with Godfrey Dadich Companions and Affordable Quantity. I’m your host, Molly Wooden. Sharon Kallander and Matthew Duncan produced this podcast. Jessica Voelker is the WorkLab editor.