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5 Takeaways from the Boston Generative AI Meetup

Jun 13, 2024 Tiffany Darmetko

On June 5, AI influencer Judah Phillips hosted the Boston Generative AI Meetup at Microsoft NERD in Cambridge, MA. It was a forum to mingle with and listen to great minds in AI. In a panel-session format, four expert speakers answered questions from the audience for a solid 90 minutes. I felt lucky to sit among the 100+ attendees and partake in a dynamic discussion about GenAI advancements, use cases, and business opportunities. It’s clear Boston is a vibrant AI community! 

The panelists included Glasswing VC Partner Kleida Martiro; Forrester VP & Principal Analyst Mike Gualtieri; Bain Capital Managing Director Darren Herman; and All Stage Founder & CEO Jason Burke.

Paying attention to the session through a PR & marketing lens, here are my top 5 takeaways for CEOs, CMOs, and leadership teams navigating the AI scene:

1. Don’t lose sight of your audience.

Companies need to be able to combine AI tech expertise with what the customer needs, in order to drive value. Innovators can sometimes lose sight of that when building fancy technology. The nuts & bolts of the tech rarely sell themselves. You need to build something someone wants, keeping the market need in mind at all times. Forrester’s Mike Gualtieri made the important point that “AI is only costly if it doesn’t drive value. You have to be able to quantify the value to know the true cost.” If you take an audience-centric view of things, you’re less likely to pour resources into superfluous projects—or—to tell a misdirected story. It’s all about reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time.  

2. Talk in terms of business value.

Saying you have an AI company is like saying you have an Internet company. Every company is going to be one. Two types are poised for success:

1.) New, AI-native companies that will disrupt incumbents and 2.) Incumbents that will make a meaningful shift in their entire tech stack and they’ll survive. 

In this reality, it’s crucial to clearly communicate the why: the why behind what you do, why you matter in terms of the unique value you deliver (in addition to how you’re doing it), and why your audiences should care. 

3. Bring the technology to life with use cases.

The companies winning out with AI are not only building solutions with practical applications but they’re also demonstrating high-value uses of the technology by their customers to solve critical pain points. Some of the more common use cases seen by Darren Herman, managing director at Bain Capital, are around marketing (email creation to bolster account-based marketing strategies), services & support (personal concierges and shoppers), and engineering (using AI to write code).    

4. Lean into competitive differentiators to get an investor interested.

Being audience-centric, delivering and articulating business value, and demonstrating use cases all help to build a competitive moat around your business, which is critical as AI becomes commoditized and “OpenAI becomes the BlackBerry of AI because they don’t have a moat,” said one panelist. Glasswing Ventures Partner Kleida Martiro offered five criteria for investing in an AI company (pictured below).

AI investment criteria graphic, courtesy of Glasswing VC

5. Think twice before hiring a chief AI executive.

Everyone is called to become an AI expert. To help make this happen, find people within your organization’s ranks and form a task force to read/research/experiment and instigate and inspire your workforce to get comfortable with AI. From a PR standpoint, we love mining for subject matter experts and coaching them to feel empowered to share their expertise with key audiences.

To clarify, when I say “get comfortable” it’s more like: Get comfortable with the discomfort of technological change at warp speeds.

“We’re watching this movie in fast-forward.”     

All Stage CEO Jason Burke

It’s not unlike the evolution we saw happen with the chief digital officer position, “the hottest job of the 90s,” as one panelist called it. Now people are digital natives, the level of general digital education keeps rising, and we don’t need digital officer positions. The panelists predicted the same will be true for AI.  

Luckily, the Boston Generative AI Meetup is an ongoing series of events, and as such, a tremendous opportunity for continued education and networking. If you’re in the Boston area, I hope to see you at the next one. I’ve found the local AI community to be incredibly welcoming. In the meantime, if you’re interested in discussions about AI applications for business growth—and how to tell that growth storylet’s connect!

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