Google may have been slow to release AI apps, thus allowing ChatGPT to dominate the market, but if Bard is any indication, then the behemoth from Mountain View, California, is back with a game-winning offering. Up until now, Google has dominated search with an offering made way back in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It is aimed at helping users find relevant websites. Back then, this was important, and it is still relevant, but now users want answers to real questions, not just the dress of somewhere that is likely to have a product they can buy or read about.
HOW TO GET BARD
Bard, Google’s AI assistant that competes directly with ChatGPT, is now available for everyone. Head over to https://bard.google.com/ and give it a try.
The test I applied to find the best answer.
I asked the following apps the same question, “What is the latest AI news for small businesses that is relevant for Australian small businesses?”
- Google Search
- Bing Search
- Google Bard
- Bing chat (I needed MS Edge browser for this)
Here are their answers:
This was the most disappointing result. It was the same old list of sponsored websites that filled the screen. Relevant websites for this search were below the fold (i.e. I had to scroll down to see them), and so were less likely to be seen. Then there were news websites that had relevant answers. Nowhere did it actually attempt to answer my question. Sometimes Google will give a snippet of a page with a relevant answer, but not this time. If you are using paid advertising, then you might have got a click, but this is nothing new and frankly, in today’s AI world, it is starting to look old and tired.
Microsoft Bing Search
Bing was interesting in that it added a window for Bing chat with a typical chat answer with citations. It also listed two answers from the “People also ask” section, and, interestingly, I had to scroll down to find actual websites. Quite a different experience to the typical web search returning websites scenario we are all used to.
Bard was awesome and gave me an actual answer with a couple of examples of small businesses that had benefitted from AI. These businesses were Australian (Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane) and Bard added a use case for each one. This gave me material I could research further with more targeted questions. I could then ask a specific question, such as “Tell me more about the small clothing retailer in Brisbane, including their name.”, Bard did and explained how the business, called The Closet Collective” had gained from this. It listed increased sales, new customers and improved marketing campaigns in the list.
I went on to ask, “Can you tell me about the marketing campaign that the Closet Collective used, including where they put their advertising and what improvements they saw.” And the answer was so specific that not only did it list the campaign they ran (social media, email marketing etc.), but I was informed that there was a 20% increase in overall sales and a 15% increase in customers.
As a sidetone, The Closet Collective used a company with expertise in AI rather than take the time to learn how to do it themselves.
Somehow, I expected more and was disappointed. In spite of releasing an update to ChatGPT4 (not available in the free (3.5) version, the answer was still pretty generic and lacked the specificity of Google Bard. It mentioned an Australian government initiative that dated back to 2021 and completely missed the recent announcement that the Australian Federal Government had just announced in their 2023-24 budget of AU$101.2 million to “support businesses to integrate quantum and artificial intelligence technologies into their systems.”
Maybe, I was just spoiled by the awesome result from Google’s Bard, but Microsoft chat was probably the most disappointing result. It was a small clip from a CSIRO article that was repeated in the Chat section of Bing Search. It informed me that “0% of Australian businesses are accelerating and expanding their AI offerings to meet market demand” but gave me very little that might help me in my own Australian small business.
Well done for taking the time to read to this point. It shows that you are serious about your desire to use the tools now available via AI to grow your business. Keep reading these and other news items. This one is specifically targeted at small Australian businesses, and I hope it helps.