Generative AI is making it easier than ever to build the wrong thing

Generative AI is making it easier than ever to build the wrong thing.

"The democratization of software” long promised by no-code software and AI-enabled development tools is soon to actually arrive, thanks to ChatGPT and AI development tools like GitHub Copilot. Businesses of all sizes can undoubtedly benefit from the ability to build digital products in a fraction of the time. But the problem is this:

The decisions that shape high performing digital products are made long before a line of code is written.

So while the path to building and launching a product might be faster than ever, generative AI tools can also act as a high-speed train to the wrong destination.

So how do you build the right thing? Here’s a few things to keep in mind.

Beware UI infatuation.

It’s easy to fall in love with a slick interface. We’ve all done it. And the next wave of generative AI tools will only compound the problem.

When a few prompts and shiny drag and drop tools can churn out UX & UI mockups or even functional applications, it’s easy to create a digital product that appears well-designed on the surface, but whose foundation is shaky at best.

For the same reason you’d never design a car around the upholstery, AI-powered development tools can be your friend, but not as a replacement for things like user research, persona development, technical assessment and competitive landscape analysis.

Test early and often.

Particularly when development can be so dramatically accelerated, the ability to test, experiment and challenge your own assumptions is more critical than ever. When building a digital product, being wrong early is a gift.

It’s how we discover that there’s more nuance to various target users than initially assumed. It’s how “happy paths” emerge through careful research and usage analysis. It’s how refined product roadmaps clarify the future development plan that mitigates cost while still making substantial progress.

Don’t squander the gift of being wrong early in the name of being done fast.

Build solutions, not software.

The age of generative AI will make the gap between the two wider than ever. A well crafted digital product solves the right problem the right way. Which takes an intimate understanding of your business, your customer and broader cultural context that AI will fall short of reaching.

When it’s easier than ever to build the wrong thing, we’ll see a proliferation of software in search of a problem to solve. Perhaps circling the problem, even approaching it or pointing to it, but not built soundly enough from the jump to actually solve it.

So should you invest in AI tools capable of writing software? Sure.

But remember: software’s not really what you’re after.

Ready to learn more about building a practical AI roadmap for your organization? Join our free workshop: AI Roadmaps for the Real World on LinkedIn Live on April 18th.

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April 9, 2024
Rob Volk
Rob Volk

Rob Volk is Foxbox Digital’s founder and CEO. Prior to starting Foxbox, Rob helped Fortune 500 clients, including Pfizer, USPS, and Morgan Stanley build and scale enterprise apps. He was the CTO of Beyond Diet and implemented technology that scaled to over 350k+ customers, and was the CTO and Co-Founder of Detective (, a venture-backed intelligence platform that amassed 200k+ users in a short time frame. Read more

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