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Our Hands-On Test of Duet AI for Google Workspace

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We conducted extensive testing of Google’s new AI copilot capabilities and the results were…surprising.

Duet AI for Google Workspace is a suite of generative AI features embedded in Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides that you can use to generate content and organize data within these apps.

However, our tests so far indicate it might not be ready for primetime.

Why it matters:

Google Workspace apps are used by over 3 billion people, and over 9 million businesses pay for the productivity suite.

So, Duet AI has the potential to put the power of AI in the hands of tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of knowledge workers almost instantaneously once those features are turned on.

Which means how it works and what it can do could have a monumental impact on business productivity as we know it.

Connecting the dots:

In Episode 63 of the Marketing AI Show, Marketing AI Institute founder/CEO Paul Roetzer and I walked through our tests of Duet AI.

  1. We tested Duet AI’s major capabilities. As part of our experiment, we ran many different tests across Gmail, Docs, Slides, and Sheets to put Duet AI through the paces. Where possible, we tried to apply the capabilities to existing marketing and business use cases like creating presentations, writing blog posts, summarizing content, and sending business emails.
  2. Right now, these capabilities are quite basic. Right now, Duet AI can perform basic content generation tasks in Gmail and Docs, including generating content from scratch, rephrasing content, or shortening/lengthening it as needed. In Slides, you’re currently only able to do basic image generation. In Sheets, you can create sample spreadsheet templates based on text prompts.
  3. And there are currently some severe limitations. We were a bit surprised by how limited the features are initially. The content generation capabilities in Gmail and Docs were, frankly, underwhelming. They were far inferior to other models available today like Claude 2 and GPT-4. The image generation in Slides was competent, but nowhere close to a tool like Midjourney. And Sheets currently lacks the ability to “read” any information in rows and columns, so you can’t manipulate your data or create anything based on it. (However, Google has said this functionality is coming.) Overall, we struggled to see how Duet AI would transform any of our workflows.
  4. But don’t write off Google as a whole. It’s still very early days for Duet AI. Some of the features Google has teased, like the ability to use text prompts to analyze and visualize your spreadsheet data, could be overnight game-changers once released. Google has plenty of AI resources and expertise. It may just take time for Duet AI to become truly robust and truly useful as a major productivity enhancer.

What to do about it:

Set up a process within your own organization to continually test—and retest—tools.

Today, Duet AI may be underwhelming. That could change tomorrow, given the pace of AI innovation.

You need a system in place to handle that pace of innovation. Put one person in charge of both the initial and ongoing testing of a tool, says Roetzer.

As new updates to an existing tool come out, that person should then be re-testing it for the same use cases as before to judge if it’s now a viable option for reinventing workflows.

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