The technology wave sweeping through the roofing trade is not slowing down.
Advances in service and product ordering, aerial measurement, real-time communication, logistics and asset tracking are having an impact on the roofing contractor’s day-to-day business operations in the field. Roofers are also experiencing significant enhancements to customer relations, lead generation, and training capabilities through technology designed to have long-term effects on business growth. In addition to those, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in business is getting a lot of attention, and roofing is not immune. Roofers are beginning to use the technology internally to help with operations, and externally to attract customers, qualify prospects and market.
To many, that sounds impressive, particularly in a compressed time window starting about four years ago. But we’re admittedly a little spoiled here at RC.
As we can and often do, we turned to industry experts to gauge how these emerging tools can help or hurt roofing contractors today and into the future. On the legal side, the first thing contractors need to understand is what their AI program is capable of and what its intended purpose is. From there, they need consider what policies need to be in place in order to implement the program properly. RC Legal Insights expert Trent Cotney, partner with Adams and Reese, told us that it’s certainly technology worth investigating, especially when programs like ChatGPT can act “human-like” while still churning out desired results in mere seconds.
Both characteristics fill the roofer’s real need for operational efficiency and intuitive, prompt customer service. But contractors interested in using it for business purposes should proceed with caution as the controversies over plagiarism, content copyright infringement, data protection, bias and other issues are far from resolved.
“We’ve already had situations where customer service people or sales people are using it, sometimes very effectively, but again, the concerns I would want to reflect in any policy is how is data protected?” Cotney warned in a recent episode of the RC’s Best of Success Podcast Show.
For marketing purposes, roofing contractors are just beginning to scrape the surface of the potential to provide differentiating experiences to consumers even before first contact. There’s also great power in being able to harness a product that can adapt to a customer’s needs quickly.
“It's very, very interesting and the AI continues to develop and provide more tailored experiences the smarter it becomes,” said RC columnist Anna Anderson, CEO of Art Unlimited.
Perhaps the best recent demonstration to us at RC of AI’s arrival in roofing came from our own Editorial Director Rick Damato who, despite four decades in roofing and multiple retirements, is about as bold and adventurous as they come when it comes to new technology.
“As you all know, technology is constantly evolving and advancing, and ChatGPT is a perfect example of this,” he wrote to the entire RC staff this spring. “With its vast knowledge and ability to understand and respond to human language, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach content creation and research.”
The rah-rah stance on AI came with some caution and reassurance that he wasn’t suggesting RC editorial be replaced by non-humans or used to fill space.
As humans, we have the ability to bring creativity, intuition, and critical thinking to the table, things that ChatGPT cannot replicate. Our mission remains to provide roofing contractors with the best news and information available to help them grow their businesses. At the same time, Damato was wise to remind us that our job in an evolving trade is to collaborate with new technologies like ChatGPT. To use it as a guide and ensure that what it spits out aligns with our editorial vision and standards.
As he likes to do, Damato tied the email together succinctly with a hint of optimism about the future. He also noted in the postscript that his 350-word email essay was entirely AI generated in minutes by feeding ChatGPT one sentence as he enjoyed his breakfast.
Surprised and impressed, we then tried it for ourselves. While there isn’t any copy written by AI in this issue, there is one piece of content in the July eMagazine that RC editors used AI on to form an outline that served as the foundation. Can you tell which one?
Take a gander at the eMagazine content by registering for free now, and let me know if it stands out by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.