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Submitted by Erik Olson CEO of Fort West – Unlock Truth. Unleash Potential.

From OpenAI’s ChatGPT to Google’s Bard, the cultural conversation surrounding the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) is exploding. It seems like everyone has a point-of-view on how AI is the manifestation of Skynet from The Terminator movie, something out of an episode of Black Mirror, or the catalyst for plugging into The Matrix. With reactions ranging from curiosity to fear, everyone is wondering how the “AI revolution” will impact their lives.

As AI continues to evolve and get better, there’s no questioning its disruptive power. A report from Goldman Sachs shared that as many as 300 million jobs globally are exposed to automation through AI. For some industries, it’s about time. The agency industry is ripe for disruption – it has been for decades. The cost of service delivery continues to increase with inflation-fueled pressure on salaries and contract rates. And, while the work product can be a powerful lever of business success, the majority of agencies focus on vanity output over meaningful outcomes and have rightly earned skepticism around the value they offer.

Meanwhile, the commoditization of traditional agency services has put downward pressure on billable rates. To survive, many agencies have transitioned to a fully distributed, contract, or even offshore model to help bring costs down. But, lowering costs doesn’t add value to the client experience. It doesn’t innovate or disrupt an outdated agency model, anchored by a commonplace “hourly fee for hourly service” expectation.

People are the strength of an agency; and also its Achilles’ heel. Why? Unlike technology, people are not scalable. Agencies can grow, but they can’t scale – meaning, their productivity eventually hits a limit. Therefore, more work means more people. More people introduces more complexity, more liability, and more risk to the agency and the client. This dynamic brings significant volatility to the industry, and especially to organizations that depend on the consistency of agency support.
What if AI could help change all of that? What if, for the first time, agencies could scale and increase their revenues by 30-40% without adding a single headcount? All, while providing greater value to clients, insulating their talent, and stabilizing the agency model as a whole. At Fort West, we’re leveraging this opportunity and challenging ourselves to create disruption. “AI won’t take your job, but someone who knows how to use it might.” Richard Baldwin
Our strategists are now leaning into prompt engineering frameworks that not only improve our efficiency, but elevate the value we offer our clients. We’re exploring the creation of our own AI applications that will leverage Fort West’s intellectual property and unique approach to brand transformation and demand generation. Our strategists can benefit from a large language model (LLM) that has been trained in the history and evolution of culture over the last 10 years. These applications are not foolproof, but they can reveal filtered facts, ideas and concepts that give a strategist an expedited foundation to start their own journey.

Similarly, our creative team is leveraging AI art generators like MidJourney and Adobe Firefly to challenge traditional methods of original art creation. For example, our Group Creative Director, Rob Brooks, has been exploring the potential of AI in his personal work. With the help of MidJourney, he recently created a series of charming woodland creatures and cleverly placed them into his own family photography. The results are captivating.   336645537_155950104004086_8824142767126004870_n Harnessing the power of AI and the art of automation will help stretch the boundaries of human-powered value creation. Sure, some jobs will be lost as the industry adapts, but history demonstrates that with every industry advancement comes new opportunities for those that embrace the change. Economist Richard Baldwin said it well, “AI won’t take your job, but someone who knows how to use it might.”

Unlock Truth. Unleash Potential.   Erik Olson, CEO at Fort West