3 ways Gen AI will impact the way we work this year

BY SAM SEBASTIAN

Generative AI has incredible potential to help small businesses scale and grow their reach. Google Cloud Canada VP Sam Sebastian shares the top ways he sees SMBs leveraging generative AI across the business, from improving processes to building marketing materials to drafting emails. 

In 2024, generative AI is on track to play a big role in the way we work—and it’s not just large enterprises, but there’s huge value for small and medium businesses. With SMBs contributing to over half of Canada’s GDP, representing 63% of all employees (10.7 million people), there’s significant impact ahead.

Since last year, we’ve seen people work with generative AI across our own products, through Gemini for Workspace. Sometimes it’s improving existing skills—like writers improving their work with a virtual editor and helping designers brainstorm new ideas—or it’s helping someone upskill quickly, like when a spreadsheet novice taps into AI to become a spreadsheet power user. 

There is a lot of technology innovation under the hood when it comes to generative AI, but what matters most to a small business owner and its employees is how well it frees up desperately needed time, improves customer interactions, or gives them an edge to stay ahead of the competition. 

This is ever-more important when the demand for technical skills is at an all-time high and Canadian organizations are struggling to attract and retain workers with experience in cloud computing, AI/machine learning and security.[1] AI tools can help upskill entry-level workers more quickly and free up senior leaders to focus on the strategy and high priority items. For example, Gemini in security operations can elevate skills and boost productivity of security workers by accelerating threat detection, investigation, and response to threats using the power of generative AI.

At Google Cloud, we expect SMBs to take advantage of AI in three main ways. 

MULTIMODAL AI MODELS WILL IMPROVE SMB PROCESSES       

In 2024, we’ll start seeing the power of multimodal AI—AI that understands information across text, images, video, and more—bring a new level of productivity to SMBs.

Multimodal AI doesn’t just deliver more powerful results, but it offers the ability to work in several modalities at once. Results of a spreadsheet calculation might go in the content of an email, written with reference to previous customer interactions, for example, perhaps accompanied by an appropriate diagram or illustration.

It’s a benefit for organizations of all sizes, but especially for small businesses, where one person may be doing the job of many. For example, AI could help take insights from a spreadsheet and summarize them into a marketing email, with branded imagery.

SMBS WILL HONE IN ON THEIR TOP PROMPTS 

The two most important things about gen AI in the workplace are how people work with it, and how it works with people.

In 2024, Canadian businesses of all sizes—from mom-and-pop shops to global enterprises—will hone in on their top prompts to help improve everything from creating content for email marketing campaigns to drafting and refining customer support responses. 

For a small business, this might be crafting a customer email that presents a special offer, talks about previous purchases, and evokes a voice that accurately represents what’s special about working with this provider. Or perhaps it’s drafting or refining the content or monthly newsletters, or even suggesting a response to an unanswered email from a vendor. 

And if you’re already using Gemini in Workspace—or interested in trying it out—here are a few tips for prompt writing to help deliver more helpful results:  

  • Use natural language
  • Be clear and concise
  • Provide context
  • Use specific and relevant keywords
  • Break down complex tasks into separate prompts

COLLABORATING WITH GEN AI WILL BECOME A NEW MUST-HAVE RHYTHM AT WORK 

One of the most striking things about gen AI is that it’s a natural interaction with exceptionally powerful computation. You talk or type a prompt, and in the background millions of computer interactions deliver what you need in the blink of an eye. Ideally, gen AI products should get better over time, securely and privately working with people and their data to help them create, communicate, and collaborate better. 

In 2024, we’ll see even more powerful dialogs with people and gen AI, as machines get better and people ease into the rhythm of this new type of working. We’ll see AI become a natural collaborator, unlocking use cases we haven’t even imagined yet, regularly relied upon to expedite tedious tasks. 

I’m excited for all that’s in store for our customers and everyone who will benefit from generative AI in 2024 and beyond. 


[1] https://ca.equinix.com/newsroom/press-releases/2022/11/tech-skills-challenge-accelerated-by-pace-of-digital-transformation-say-it-leaders

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