by Rocky McGuire
Date Published April 4, 2024 - Last Updated April 4, 2024

Gen AI is the hottest buzz word amongst techies since the first release of World of Wordcraft in 2004. Generative AI came into the public eye with a bang with the 2022 release of Chat GPT.

This new technology gave the first real tangible introduction to AI for much of the world. While for many, this once futuristic out-of-a-science novel perceived concept of human like AI, suddenly feels real. Most probably don’t realize that If AI was not human-like, but rather human, it would be about 7 years away from official retirement age!

While human-like generative AI is novel in practice, artificial Intelligence as the support center industry understands it, has been around for 57 years. “ELIZA” was given life in 1966 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science professor Joseph Weizenbaum. “ELIZA” is what IT professionals would call a ‘chat bot’. Professor Weizenbaum set out to simulate a psychotherapist’s operation, returning responses to patients in the interrogative form.

What was originally created as a psychotherapist experiment, would be a catalyst for what technology professionals now call natural language processing (NLP). ELIZA used pattern matching and a response selection method based on predetermined templates.

As many existing chatbots are today, it was “Prescriptive” in nature. Prescriptive simply meaning that the algorithm looked for specific meta data in order to produce a predetermined response based on the input (i.e. Input “I am sad” would prescribe a response such as, “Tell me more about that.”). ELIZA is still available online for public use. If you want to see Chat Bot infancy, having a therapy session with ELIZA is a pretty entertaining way to spend a lunch break!

Nearly 6 decades of AI development since “ELIZA” has led us to where we find ourselves today. It’s an AI world, and we are just living in it…but not really. According to Gartner, Inc.:

By 2027, chatbots will become the primary customer service channel for roughly a quarter of organizations. AI will reduce agent labor costs by as much as $80 Billion by 2026 with conversational AI handling 10% of agent interactions by 2026. (predicted in 2022). AI Experts have been making predictions for decades…and the results may be surprising. “Leaders are Readers” is something most aspiring leaders or seasoned leaders have heard. Leaders tend to be learners and strive to gain more knowledge about how to develop strategy, equip people or how to become a generally better leader of people.

Most would agree that Artificial Intelligence is a major component of the future of industry. Like anything we want to understand better or grow in, the more you know – the better equipped you will be to lead in that specific area. Knowledge is power. In the space of Artificial Intelligence and its proposed impact, it’s important that we understand the history. Not just the history of artificial intelligence progress, but even more importantly, the history of perception of the ‘unknown’ when it comes to artificial intelligence.

There is a fascinating research project that was released through the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) that could benefit every leader who has to lead teams impacted by AI (so…really every one of us, right?). This research looked not at artificial intelligence and the technology behind it, but rather, what experts and non-experts alike thought would be the future of AI…and just how right, or wrong they were. The conclusion, for me, and I imagine for many others, was not quite what I expected.

This conclusion, while looking at such a vast range of data over decades, reminded me of Shia LaBeouf. (yes…Transformers, Even Stevens and “DO IT! JUST DO IT” guy…that same Shia!). Specifically, it reminds me of a story LaBeouf shares during a conversation with Jon Bernthal (aka: Shane from The Walking Dead) in the “Real Ones” podcast.

The story is of a farmer and his son who live off their Radish farm. The son is working the land as his father had gotten too old to do the labor. The boy and his elderly father rely on their horse to prep the land. One day, the horse runs away. The son runs to his father telling him, “We’re going to die out here…the horse is gone. This is a nightmare!”. The father responds, “You know son…I don’t know if it’s a nightmare. I can’t call it.”. A couple days later, the son sees the horse with 50 wild stallions behind it. The son manages to get the entire lot of horses to their land, locks the gate and runs telling his fatger, “It’s a miracle! We are rich! We are in the horse-trading business now, dad!”. His father replies, “I don’t know what this is. I don’t know if it’s a miracle. I can’t call it.”

A couple more days pass and the son is trying to domesticate the wild horses when one kicks him in his leg, shattering it completely. The towns people hear about it and come and ask what the son and his father are going to do, saying, “This is a nightmare! This is pretty much the end!”. The father looks at the towns people and says, “I don’t know what this is, I can’t really call it.”. A couple more days pass, as the father is trying to comfort his son, from the distance they hear this thunderous noise – 5,000 samurai are coming over the ridge to their hut. They approach the father and his son and command them to send the son to fight an enemy army.

The son can’t get out of the chair. He can’t go with the army. The samurai army continues. The entire Samauri army, 8,000 in total, would soon meet their demise in the battle.

What in the world does a Shia LaBeouf story have to do with Generative AI Advancement?

The history of artificial intelligence and the predictions of the impact are a lot like this story. There have been highs. There have been lows. The landscape is quickly changing with a lot more change to come. Yet the same thing that is true for the father in this story, is true for leaders in the technology space.

Despite the advancements. Despite the “expert” predictions…leaders when looking at Generative AI would be wise to echo the famer. “I don’t know what it is yet. I can’t really call it.”

If we are being honest with ourselves, when it comes to the current state of generative AI and its impact to our organizations, most IT Support employees and leaders alike are unsure if it’s a miracle or a nightmare. Both can certainly be true. Let’s highlight just a few of the more obvious possibilities:

IT Support Miracle:

Fast responses to basic issues not requiring prescriptive coding for traditional chat bots

  • Improved satisfaction with automation channels through true user persona and contextualized responses
  • Fast responses to basic issues not requiring prescriptive coding for traditional chat bots

  • Language barriers removed through real time natural language processing in native dialects

  • Automated notetaking, ticket documentation, summarization and ticket coding
  • Automated personalized and customized training content generation for upskilling

IT Support Nightmare:


  • Increased social engineering risk with bad actors leveraging generative AI technology
  • Unrealistic expectations from customers (internal & external) regarding how fast full-blown Generative AI solutions are made available
  • Astronomical expected improvement in efficiency
  • Cost to build or purchase true secure generative AI solution capabilities
  • Fear of jobs being replaced across the organization
  • Risk of confidential data leaking through misuse of open-source Gen AI tools

Leaders are in a challenging position. The benefits could be immense for their organization and teams, yet the risks and cost may not be fully understood. Leaders of smaller organizations and support teams may question if they will be priced out of taking advantage of the benefits Generative AI technology can bring. Leaders may be questioning if they will be able to get buy in form business stakeholders to explore using Generative AI. Most will also have to figure out how to communicate the business impact and ROI of action if they want decision makers to agree to invest in Generative AI capabilities. Regardless of where leaders stand in their perspective on the capabilities of Generative AI, every leader has something in common.

The impact of Generative AI is something that leaders must take seriously.

For many roles within organizations, and especially for IT Support Analysts, the expert predictions surrounding AI, accompanied by the advancements of Generative AI capabilities, can be terrifying. We hear over and over about how much change happens in technology (and how fast it happens!). It’s a bit of a surprise that we don’t hear more about the things that remain the same, regardless of change. Just to name a few:

Technology advancement means opportunity (for organizations and people alike). Humans throughout history have always valued relationships with other humans, and technology that isn’t serving people, ultimately becomes obsolete.

In 2015 when I started my personal journey into the tech support world, chatbots were increasing in number. AI and chatbot were scary terms for me and the support analyst around me. As an IT Support Agent what these words translated to in our mind – “My company is replacing my job with AI”. While translation and perspective matter, this sentiment could not have been further from reality.

The new advancements in Generative AI very likely have similar sentiment being felt by IT Support Analysts all across the world. Regardless of size, market, or industry, leaders will play a critical role in how this wave of change is either feared or embraced.

Leaders are responsible for piloting their team into the unknown.

Fear and hope will not coexist within our organizations for long. One will push its way to center stage, dominating the culture of our teams and making its counterpart all but invisible. With the advancement of Generative AI, this is truer than ever – especially for IT Support teams.

Consequently, intentional leadership has never been more critical to an IT Support teams. The possibilities that lay ahead bring many reasons to be hopeful. Generative AI advancements can fundamentally and unprecedentedly improve the day-to-day job of IT Support staff. Yet, accompanying those possibilities, are a myriad of concerns, that if left unchecked, can paralyze a support team in unrelenting fear. So how can leaders be intentional in addressing the concerns head on? It’s not as complicated as it may seem.

Tag(s): research, self-service tools, supportworld, artificial intelligence, technology


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