Sep 30, 2023
We all remember the movie Minority Report. Tom Cruise is accessing data at his fingertips. The data is helping him predict and act on it before anything happens.
The most impressive thing about this movie from 2002 was the effort put into creating the world. This was not explained in the book. Three years before making the movie, Steven Spielberg reunited experts.
The goal was to imagine the future. A lot of the tech from the movie is available today. Those imagined technologies are available today. 20-years later, we got driverless cars, personalized advertisements and voice-controlled homes.
Artificial Intelligence supports and helps the world function. It is the foundation of everything. Recommendation engines help people choose the next movie or the next buy.
In the past year, AI has appeared as a tool in our daily lives and offered an opportunity to all, not a select few. AI has been controlling part of our lives for years already. The tech giants have been using it to predict what will be the most relevant for us. It could be the best route to take on Google Maps or what is on your social feed.
ChatGPT release brought the democratisation of AI. Everyone has access to a new tool that can give them an advantage and a new power.
Yet to tame.
Why do you have to make friends with AI?
When I started my career, it was all about productivity, from Toyota Lean principles to Six Sigma. It was all about going faster. The tech industry was booming, and startups were there to “Disrupt the market”.
We, digital leaders and product people, evolve in this fast-paced world. We spread thin to extensive multitasking and data-driven decision-making. We have to make more than 35,000 decisions per day. Not all critical. Yet, some can have a ripple effect we can’t understand or fathom.
Productivity is no longer a luxury. It’s a need. I am talking here about the real productivity. The one that is not about working longer hours or working harder. I am talking about being smart with our time.
At that time, I was working in consulting. Our typical mission was to help companies create new services. Our expertise was on how to find new technologies and capabilities. Repetitive tasks were killing the productivity of those businesses. As an industry going through different revolutions, we entered the fourth revolution.
“The fourth industrial revolution, the digital revolution has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres” — World Economic Forum — Klaus Schwab — Founder/Executive Chairman
We had constraints such as our skills. The pressure of the market pushed us to make new informed decisions.
We were not talking about AI at that time. We were trying to redefine administrative tasks and daily workflows. The goal was to help business owners build helpful tools. We eliminated repetitive tasks and waste.
Fast forward a few years. Cloud computing and the drastic cost reduction in data storage changed the landscape.
People and companies are starting to be aware of the power of data. It became clear that data was the new oil, and the networks were the pipelines.
“People in both fields operate with beliefs and biases. To the extent you can eliminate both and replace them with data, you gain a clear advantage.” — Michael Lewis, Moneyball
The market didn’t change. It still requires better tools to go faster and make better decisions.
I was working in IoT for fleets of vehicles. We were collecting vast amounts of data. The problem was always the same.
“What to do with this data? What type of decision can I take?”
We decided to start working on a project that would help us define the future of how those types of tools worked. Imagine if we could predict that a vehicle will break or someone is at a high risk of getting into an accident.
Imagine that we could predict, based on your usage, what type of vehicle you should buy. I couldn’t see the end of the project. Yet, we could say which type was more relevant and could save millions in fuel and CO2 per year.
We wanted to achieve a goal and project our customers into the future.
The problem was we could not do it as Product Managers, Architects or software developers.
We could analyse the data. We could find correlations, raise hypotheses and experiment. Making it available to everyone would mean something different. We would need to put in place new technology. This is where Predictive Analysis comes in. Not Artificial Intelligence yet.
The final aim was to build an AI in my head and be the first one in the market to offer that capability. Quite the ambitious plan.
Our human ambition has always been to amplify our capabilities. A trait that differentiates us from the animal kingdom.
Gone are the days when we needed the stars in the sky for navigation or libraries to conduct research.
Today, the expanse of the internet is at our fingertips.
As a digital innovation mentor and product manager, I juggle many tasks. I research, collaborate, and hold workshops. I support clients and create insightful blog posts. All these functions demand instant access to data and an effective means to leverage it.
It’s critical to find and understand the power of Artificial Intelligence tools. It is a must to stay relevant and innovative.
If you don’t rethink yourself, you will disappear.
How do AI tools impact our daily productivity work?
To understand AI in our role, we need to return to the concept of “rings of influence”. The changes have an immediate impact from product creation to outside the organisation. These rings mould the evolving landscape of Product Management.
Here is the impact of AI across the rings:
AI-Powered Features: Enhancing user experience and value with adaptive, smart features
Evolving Skillset of PMs: The journey from traditional product management to AI-driven decision-making.
Organizational Shift: The move towards a data-first culture emphasizes the importance of cross-functional collaboration. I include AI experts, product teams, and other departments.
Broad context: AI innovations changed consumer expectations. The rise of competitors leveraging AI redefined the marketplace.
The interesting part of our role is to see its impact on our role. It can enhance our tasks as a new productivity tool.
A recent study has shown some AI capabilities and how they can impact our work. A study run by Harvard University with BCG consultants showed the following results:
“For each one of a set of 18 realistic consulting tasks within the frontier of AI capabilities, consultants using AI were significantly more productive (they completed 12.2% more tasks on average, and completed task 25.1% more quickly), and produced significantly higher quality results (more than 40% higher quality compared to a control group). Consultants across the skills distribution benefited significantly from having AI augmentation, with those below the average performance threshold increasing by 43% and those above increasing by 17% compared to their own scores. For a task selected to be outside the frontier, however, consultants using AI were 19 percentage points less likely to produce correct solutions compared to those without AI.”
The interesting part about those results is how they helped the consultants. They produce better outcomes when they are in the purview of AI. Once outside the scope, the results were less.
AI is not a silver bullet. It requires work, understanding how to leverage it and depth. It can speed up your process, and I decided to use it.
AI is not about writing strong prompts. All those tools are still in their infant period. It means there is a need to understand how they work in a backend to get the most out of it.
There is a step-by-step process I always come back to when choosing and testing a new product. It saves me valuable time as it solves a wide range of issues.
The process above is how I test the range of features offered. It satisfies my needs for content creation or product management tools.
Here is the list of tools I use currently.
My AI Productivity Toolbox
Obsidian + GPT Plugin — My Personal Thoughts Researcher
Why I Use It: For knowledge management and information retrieval.
Obsidian is where I put all the thoughts and information I am working on.
From journaling, ideas, articles, book extracts or YouTube videos. It contains vast data I have been gathering in the past two years.
Obsidian is also what I use to follow my work and my objectives. It is at the centre of my productivity.
It’s an open-source project, and the community around Obsidian is reactive to the market. They create plugins that boost their capability. AI has been part of it.
One of the best answers and resources to understand what is available is Reddit. This thread contains helpful tools. The plugins can change the entire process of searching and taking notes.
Simplifies information retrieval
Speed up the creation process
Connecting the dots
ChatGPT — for everything and anything
Why I Use It: Excellent for drafting content and providing insights.
There is no necessity to explain what GPT does. I use it to speed up my thinking. I don’t spend hours scrolling through the search results. I ask questions that orientate my thoughts.
I can narrow down my search or expand it. Diverging and converging at the same time.
It is an invaluable asset. I can bounce ideas and gather information. It’s always available, giving me comprehensive and accurate results within minutes.
The natural language processing capabilities use what it learned about who I am and what I want to do. It helps me structure and improve my writing process.
With ChatGPT as my AI assistant, I can tackle complex tasks. I make informed decisions and drive better outcomes for my projects and team.
Cheap AI assistant
Speeds up the content creation process.
Avoiding mundane tasks
Cut off repetitive tasks
Collato — My archive product research analyst
Why I Use It: Streamlines content creation processes.
Collato is one of the AI-powered tools that help my role as a product manager. It taps into the knowledge base of documents I have. Then, I leverage it to create on-demand product documentation.
Insights are invaluable. PMs gather customer interactions on Jira, Confluence, Notion or Google Drive. The problem is that it’s hard to find. Collato can generate product docs based on my insights. I can find the Google docs where I talk about customer experiences and feedback. From there, it creates a document based on what I ask. Pretty neat if you have loads of unstructured information. All help me with the information I seek. It’s still a new productivity tool. Yet, one of the best tools for Product Managers out there. I have tried others, and they don’t. It’s one I keep in my sight and see the evolution.
Make distributed information accessible.
Saves hours in the documentation process
Streamlines the Product Development Process
Retrieve Customer Feedback and Insights
Miro — Workshop and facilitation
Why I Use It: Smart tool for facilitating, brainstorming and mapping ideas alone or as a team.
I use Miro for workshops, collaboration, brainstorming sessions, training, retrospectives and interviews. A difficulty when facilitating is gathering and making sense of the information. Another difficulty is focusing on the team while reaching your goals. It goes from generating innovative ideas to leading meaningful discussions.
Miro AI features, captures and organizes insights and action items. You can use this tool to summarize information during or after the workshop. The drawing recognition turns hand-drawn sketches into digital shapes.
Finally, the algorithms analyze the boards’ content. Then, provide valuable insights and suggestions to improve the workshop outcomes.
Enhances creative thinking and collaboration.
Improve workshop facilitation and collaboration
Data-driven decision-making process
Efficiency of the entire team
Better product development outcomes
Fireflies — My note-taking assistant
Why I Use It: For meeting transcriptions and interviews
Fireflies is part of the last tools I integrated into my toolbox. I am still getting used to it and what I can do with it. As Zoom, it uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence.
After the meeting, I receive a detailed transcript. I access a sentiment analysis summary and a smart search through the user interface. I can look for questions, tasks, metrics, dates & times. It contains specific information such as talk time in percentage and topic tracker.
It’s like someone sits down with me in the meeting and gets all the relevant, actionable insights. It can be cumbersome, and you can miss out on information.
I imagine improving the customer interview process or the sales one.
Eliminates the hassle of manual note-taking.
Focusing on the meeting and engaging with clients or colleagues
Sentiment analysis and talk time
Topic tracking and avoiding loss of knowledge
Frase + Grammarly + Hemingway — for writing accessibility, improvement and relevance
Why I Use It: Improving my blogpost, writing and making it more relevant
Grammarly is an indispensable writing tool. It helps me polish and offer real-time grammar, spelling, and style suggestions. It enforces updated writing standards. It also checks for plagiarism and adds an extra layer of quality assurance.
Frase excels in automating SEO research and content outlining. It leverages natural language processing to scan vast data and identify industry trends. The tool streamlines the brainstorming process by suggesting relevant subtopics. It also provides real-time customer insights by integrating with support systems.
Hemingway focuses on making written, high-quality content more accessible and readable. It flags complex sentences and provides actionable insights for simplification. It ensures content appeals to a broad audience. The tool offers SEO optimization recommendations. The seamless integration with popular word processors makes it convenient to use. This invaluable tool helps me improve my writing. Especially since I tend to translate from French.
Correct my writing syntax and tone of voice
Help me find relevant topics with SEO capabilities
Give me a better understanding of what people are looking for
Synthesia — for generating videos in click
Why I Use It: To create high-quality videos
Synthesia utilizes advanced AI and machine learning for video generation. It transformed my video creation process. I use it for a wide range of use cases.
This powerful tool helps me create videos in minutes. I use it for customer onboarding or internal communication to explain a new feature. I can explain new product features in second to our customer service.
Video content is always a problem. Using video generators and creating them in minutes is a power I want to leverage.
Saves hours of video editing
Improve Customer Satisfaction
Enhances customer engagement
Allows for instant adjustments and iterations.
Canva — For Design and Presentations
Why I Use It: To create appealing designs and presentations
I use Canva for all my visuals and presentation now.
Canva’s intuitive interface and AI-powered design suggestions make it easy to create stunning visuals. I don’t use the collaboration features and only use them personally. I am not a designer. However, in minutes, I can build a landing page or a visual that helps me test my ideas.
Accelerates design process
Fosters team collaboration
Elevates presentation quality.
Navigating AI for productivity: the AI-powered you
You can compare the current AI technology and tools to the beginning of Google. Finding the ones that work for you the way you want takes some iterations.
Once you find the tools and change your processes to include them, you can change totally the way you work.
I have changed the following processes: ideation, research, writing, validation, proofreading and general productivity. It has helped me deal with tasks that an assistant would have done.
I am excited to see what’s coming next.
If you know tools to improve product development or content creation, such as video, please comment.
I would love to hear from you.