person using a mobile phone talking to an AI Chatbot

All Mod Cons – Generative AI and Category Name modification

Written by Paul Maher

It has been decades since tech hype was as high as it was with the unveiling of the chatbot ChatGPT.

Already the company behind the AI, OpenAI, slogan “Creating safe artificial general intelligence that benefits all of humanity” has earned the promise of billions.

ChatGPT is now mentioned on mainstream news and in daily conversations. It has unquestionably defined and won the Category of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI). 

Many claim this sudden rise of Large Language Models, LLMs, is on a par with other life-changing tech categories like the smartphone, app stores, internet or the current generation of web browsers. Does this mean it is worth considering your Category as a sub-category, a rival, or even a replacement for GAI? 

Great question.

While time will tell just how disruptive the tech is, there can be no question of the real-world value, companies can up their game just by adding the phrase ‘AI’ to their category claim. Some funders VCs, including some of the world’s most successful VCs, have confirmed they have been swayed into paying over the odds to gain access to companies who could be the ‘next big thing with AI being at the core of what will drive the next tech upturn.

Will the AI hype last? 

When investment professionals, who are paid handsomely to discover which are the very best companies to bet their clients’ money on, start hunting based on a three-letter Category acronym, we as Category creators need to pay rapt attention. 

But how can we be sure this current AI-enabled trend ‘has legs’, how do we know it will not fade away, as other recent hype cycles, such as Web 3.0, the Metaverse and Industry 4.0 now have? Of course, all we can do is apply decades of experience.

One clue, as always, is Google Trends, which details what the Category Leader in the online search category is seeing. Even if, as in this case when the search term is a deadly rival. So what do we see? Impressive though Generative AI is, it fades into the background when compared to the runaway Category Leader. Chat CPT is just killing it. Does this mean then that GAI is a terrible category name?

We don’t think so. In fact we have recently recommended clients, especially those looking at seed and early funding rounds, to consider adding modifiers to AI, to attract the herd of funders for whom this is currently a ‘must have’. In the current funding environment, a little sprinkling of AI, is a sure-fire way to grab a meeting with investors.

How to be ‘fashion-forward’

Now, we are not recommending anyone nails their category to, say, ‘Coding AI’, ‘Networks AI’ or ‘Human Resources AI’. Such generic categories are meaningless and even more so for smaller players, no matter how ambitious they are. The appeal of massive-sounding markets is obvious. So should be the issue with over-promising and under-delivering in the current market.

We think, where there are some real and demonstrable benefits from claiming AI capabilities. For instance, product messaging can benefit with a little turbocharging with AI. But Category Designers should proceed with caution. We note in particular the sentiment so well expressed in this AI founder’s Tweet who said. 

Don’t be fooled.

ChatGPT is awesome and all, but 90% of the value of ML in real applications today still comes from small, shallow models trained on small, domain-specific data, with thorough preprocessing and feature engineering.

Not entirely world-changing, then.

Platforms and suite-sounding engines

The use of modifiers in Category Naming is a classic tactic. Often weaker Category Names are bulked out with modifiers like ‘_ platform’,  ‘_engine’ or ‘_suite. These though are product-related and not Categories, they explain how to purchase a solution and describe a solution. 

They do not present a fundamentally different view of the world, demonstrate a new view of a problem facing customers, old or new, they just add length – which some confuse with gravitas –  to a Category Name. They are tactics not strategy.

The dual temptation when naming a Category is to either stay too close to the present, for instance jamming the phrase ‘AI’, as in ‘Generative AI’, into your Category. This could push too far forward with a massive category which it is impossible to live up to. It’s a dilemma. But there are the decisions which makes Category Design a strategic commitment.

As Category Designers, Categorical is in the business of persuading clients to be decisive and in this case we need to be a little less decisive ourselves. The real answer to creating a great Category is to create one which maximises your difference. That’s where we can help.

While we see no issue with adding an AI flavour to product messaging, the rise of Generative AI as a category means it is here to stay. Also unusually, ChatGPT seems to be the as-yet unrivalled winner. 

Category or generic?

The real problem for ChatGPT’s competitors is you cannot unhear the Category. Generative AI will always be associated with Chat GPT and vice versa. So powerful has been its impact that ChatGPT has almost become a generic for Generative AI. Crazy ideas remain crazy until they are not any longer. 

Given the antonym, or verbal opposite, of the phrase ‘Generative’ is ‘barren’ and ‘unproductive’, it is hard to argue with the genius of ‘Generative AI’ as a category because nobody wants to be useless. 

Best of all, the rise of a new Category and new leader proves once again that Category IS the strategy. And it’s Category that powers the relentless waves of creative destruction that typify the tech industry. 

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