ChatGPT’s comments on digital transformation are an echo from the past

By Martha Ortiz

Medellin, Colombia


This post started as a sad story, but somehow curiosity turned it into an adventure. Now I can’t stop thinking about it. Those “what if” questions are scary but always interesting.

Let’s start from the beginning …

I have always collected ideas about media just by being with my grandfather. There was a video of me as a little girl interviewing him as the President of the United States. That was my game — being like him.

When prompted, ChatGPT surfaces commentary the media industry has been talking about for years.
When prompted, ChatGPT surfaces commentary the media industry has been talking about for years.

When I sold my apartment in Medellín, of course I had to review my archives, documents on every subject, and great concepts around media. At some point I found the memories from an event organised by Innovation Consulting held May 1994 in Boston. It was about challenges media companies owned by families face. Vincent Giuliano was the name on one of the covers. I immediately remembered him; he was fun and sharp.

I quickly reviewed the document. This was 30 years ago, but here were some of the things he said:

  • Things cannot stay the same.
  • There is recognition that major competition and dangers for newspapers come from outside the newspaper industry. So do the major opportunities.
  • As big companies downsize, more and more workers are independent contractors, using their homes as a base from which to work. (Remember, COVID-19 lessons were far from our imagination.)
  • “Wait and see” can be a very dangerous strategy. So can starting too soon. Timing is critical.
  • Those willing to seize the opportunities connected with new technology will own the future. Those unwilling to do this are likely to pass away as the future unfolds.

Reading this made me sad. We have been talking about change forever. It is frustrating that it is still part of the conversation when change is just a part of life. Why has it been so difficult for the media industry to face it?

Meanwhile, I was playing with ChatGPT and AI. I couldn’t help but ask Artificial Intelligence about the media industry. Here were some of the ideas it returned:

Me: Why, if digital transformation is so obvious for the media industry, they don’t do it?

AI: Digital transformation is an essential aspect of modern media, and it’s true that many media companies have embraced this trend in recent years. However, some media organisations may still struggle to fully commit to digital transformation due to a variety of factors.

One reason may be the difficulty of balancing legacy systems and new technologies. Many established media companies have complex legacy systems that may be difficult to integrate with new digital technologies. This can make the process of digital transformation more challenging and time-consuming.

Another reason may be the reluctance to disrupt existing business models. Traditional media companies have relied on advertising revenue for decades, and the shift to digital media has disrupted this revenue stream. Some companies may be hesitant to embrace new digital business models that may not be as profitable in the short term.

Additionally, there may be a lack of digital skills and expertise within some media organisations. Digital transformation requires a significant investment in talent and resources, and some companies may struggle to recruit and retain the right talent to lead the transformation.

Lastly, some companies may be resistant to change due to cultural or organisational issues. Digital transformation requires a shift in mindset and a willingness to embrace new ways of working. Some companies may struggle to adapt their organisational culture to support digital transformation efforts.

In conclusion, while digital transformation is an obvious trend for the media industry, there are still many challenges that media companies may face in fully embracing this trend. Overcoming these challenges requires a commitment to investing in talent and resources, embracing new business models, and being willing to adapt to new ways of working.

Me: Why don’t people change?

AI: There are many reasons why people may be resistant to change, even when they know that change is necessary or beneficial. Some of the most common reasons include:

  1. Fear of the unknown: Change can be scary, and many people may be hesitant to try something new or unfamiliar. They may worry about the risks and uncertainty that come with change, and prefer to stick with what they know.
  2. Comfort zone: People often feel comfortable with the status quo, even if it’s not ideal or efficient. They may be reluctant to step outside their comfort zone and try something new, even if it could lead to better outcomes.
  3. Lack of motivation: Sometimes people don’t see the need to change because they are not motivated to do so. They may feel like the current situation is good enough, or that the benefits of change are not worth the effort.
  4. Resistance to authority: People may resist change simply because it is being proposed by someone in authority. They may feel like their autonomy is being threatened, or that the change is being imposed on them without their input.
  5. Previous experiences: Past experiences with change can also impact how people respond to it in the future. Negative experiences with change can lead to a reluctance to try again, while positive experiences can make people more open to new ideas.

My conversation with ChatGPT about media continued for long time (and included the creation of a terrible love poem). But what was scary to me was that Giuliano was saying similar things a long time ago, yet for some reason, we don’t move at the speed of the opportunities.

What else do we need to hear? From whom? The opportunities are endless and beautiful.

About Martha Ortiz

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