As Microsoft And Google Battle Over AI, Some Partners Are Already All-In On ChatGPT
Wade Tyler Millward
Employees with VCPI, Sourcepass and Net Friends talked to CRN about ChatGPT and generative AI in the channel.
Some partners tell CRN that even as Microsoft, Google and other tech giants fight out an emerging battle over who has the most compelling artificial intelligence (AI) tools, they are adopting and testing these tools to help with internal processes and to potentially recommend to clients.
All three partners who talked to CRN are all-in on ChatGPT, a generative AI tool created by OpenAI, which has a multibillion-dollar investment from Microsoft and whose technology is being rolled out into multiple Microsoft offerings from Bing to Edge to Teams.
Stephen Eiting, a sales operations manager at VCPI – a Milwaukee-based managed service provider (MSP) whose partners include Microsoft, Citrix, Cisco and N-Able – told CRN in an interview that he’s used ChatGPT to write a project charter, change orders, user guides and even a program script for Microsoft’s PowerShell task automation and configuration management program.
“It saves me endless hours every single week,” Eiting said.
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ChatGPT And Generative AI In The Channel
CRN has reached out to OpenAI for comment.
For the project charter, Eiting fed ChatGPT stakeholders, project managers and information on the risks involved to get usable text.
“I learned from that experience that as you become more conversational with it, it really presents a really good result,” Eiting said. “And I wasn’t able to just take that. It wasn’t complete. But it did 70 percent of my work for the project charter (in), I don’t know, 45 seconds. Which is great.”
Eiting, who also maintains a personal blog about technology, has been impressed by its ability to generate post ideas and to write the actual entries.
“I asked it to go into a book about cyber warfare, and I got seven chapters deep,” he said. “And it just kept going with this quasi-nonfiction, fiction novel that I was reading. I was fascinated because it just kept going. How long could it go? I thought to myself, ‘Should I publish this on Amazon?’”
In theory, the tool can help smaller MSPs without accounts to popular customer relationship management (CRM) tools, he said. MSP workers could write a script for calculating acquisition costs with multiple variables and plug in customer or prospect information.
Nick Ross, vice president of product development at Sourcepass – New York-based MSP whose partners include Acronis, Dell, VMware, SentinelOne, Microsoft and Fortinet – told CRN that he uses ChatGPT to help translate concepts and ideas into writing.
He’s used ChatGPT to correct his grammar for posts on his MSP-focused blog, for creating templates for email and marketing campaigns and even for low-level programming.
“I’d love to have it a little bit more rolled out and baked in certain ways than it is, but, I mean, it’s a game changer,” he said. “It’s a technology that has the excitement of a blockchain or crypto, but actually has way more applicability to businesses and the things that we do to reshape the world.”
Programmers’ jobs are still protected by the need to explain what a user wants, the ability to read code and the ability to troubleshoot, he said.
“It’s not going to go out and build you a full front end and back end that you can maintain,” he said.
Still, Ross sees ChatGPT as a helpful tool for translating jargon from product managers and developers.
For small MSPs limited by employee count, in theory, ChatGPT can write a business plan, do the market research based on information at its disposal and use virtual agents for sales calls, he said.
“There‘s the limitless possibility to being able to scale out a business, at least in the forefront,” he said.
John Snyder, CEO of Net Friends – a Durham, N.C.-based MSP whose partners include Microsoft, Nextiva and Palo Alto Networks – told CRN in an interview that he’s already using the paid version of ChatGPT, which is faster than the free offering.
“I was eager to sign up for it,” Snyder said. “I’m never gonna miss that $20 a month because I use it so, so much.”