Not too long back - on Nov. 15, 2022 - our world woke up to a new reality. While large language models had already begun to become wildly popular, the launch of ChatGPT elevated Generative AI from being the 'Next Big Thing in Tech' to the 'Next Big Thing. Period'. With billions of interactions & hundreds of millions of users within mere two months of launch, ChatGPT turned out to be the fastest-growing application of all time.
However, ChatGPT's significance lies not in its ground-breaking technology or staggering usage statistics. It lies in the quiet revolutions it stirred in our daily lives. From the student seeking answers late into the night, to the entrepreneur brainstorming business strategies, to the elderly finding companionship in its witty repartee, ChatGPT emerged as a companion, mentor, and guide, seamlessly woven into the tapestry of our everyday existence.
While AI has long been powering recommendations & guiding predictions behind the screens, Generative AI brings it to the forefront of the interface itself. The unprecedented permeation of AI into consumer interfaces is now well beyond ChatGPT's neat chat box. Google & Bing have embraced it unflinchingly for search. Midjourney's discord servers are constantly abuzz, and AI-generated images are increasingly mainstream on Instagram. Large models have also quickly found a home in delivering affordable & personalized education, of which Duolingo & Khan Academy are good examples. Jugalbandi, through its voice chatbot, is bringing government schemes to the least touched parts of the Indian hinterlands. The list goes on.
However, we have only received a glimpse of what lies ahead. In the coming months & years, we'd see major B2C platforms upgrading their interfaces with AI. Alongside, as with previous platform-level shifts, we anticipate the birth of transformative consumer startups redefining how businesses can cater to both consumer needs & desires. Many such successful attempts, we believe, will be marked by three defining factors:
1. Intuitive interfaces
Internet platforms have evolved over the last couple of decades to homogeneously adopt keywords-based search as the primary way of surfacing their products & services. While keyword search is a fantastic way to solve narrow utility-linked functions, humans are wired to both convey & consume information much more efficiently in natural language for almost everything else. We thus foresee intuitive interfaces - which combine multiple modalities of user input, including GUI, free-flow text, images & media - to dominate new screens. On similar lines, voice-based interfaces, particularly in India, where over a third of Google searches are voice-based, could finally gain their fair share of prominence.
2. Personalization on steroids
As the marginal cost of generating content descends to zero, it becomes increasingly common for companies to offer personalized experiences that are hyper-tuned to individual preferences. For instance, an education app could generate concept videos based on individual learner profiles rather than using pre-recorded content. Or, a fashion brand might want to have different product descriptions of the same product for other users - depending on what drives an individual user to add to the cart. Once such generations can happen efficiently on the fly (i.e., in near real-time), the next wave of personalization is also likely to unlock previously undiscovered use cases, leading to a new set of successful consumer platforms.
3. Moving up the intent funnel
AI's advancing natural language understanding allows applications to discern user intent. For example, it would be possible to ask an e-grocery app to order the ingredients for a fancy Chinese dinner at home instead of finding recipes elsewhere and then going to the app with a specific list. It may be deciphering that you should cook Chinese from a different conversation that day! The app benefits from capturing the top of the funnel instead of serving the most high-intent users. It will have wide-scale implications on the future of advertising itself, a space we are closely tracking as the new rules get written.
At Accel, we're at the cusp of compelling new opportunities to back leading AI-native companies of the future. In a series of upcoming blog posts, we'll dive into the transformative potential of AI-led disruptions across various B2C categories. Stay tuned!