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From Promise To Frustration: A Candid Review Of OpenAI’s GPT Store For Business Owners

By March 1, 2024No Comments

(This column originally appeared in Forbes)


This past January OpenAI launched its new GPT Store, a marketplace of apps similar to Apple’s App Store, where startups and creators can build applications on top of the ChatGPT Large Language Model, or LLM. At the time the company claimed that users had already built millions of custom versions of its popular generative AI platform so this was the natural next step.

The store features “a diverse range of GPTs developed by our partners and the community,” the company wrote in its announcement, and encouraged visitors to “browse popular and trending GPTs on the community leaderboard, with categories like DALL·E, writing, research, programming, education, and lifestyle.”

I spent a few hours on the store, looking for applications that would help my small business. The results were disappointing. Here’s why.

An interface that needs work

For starters, the GPT Store interface is not helpful. There are only a few categories and OpenAI recommends a dozen or so applications in each. From there you’re on your own to search for apps and even doing that only turned up a dozen or so options per query.

But the real problem with the interface is that I don’t really know my problem. I’m not sure what I’m searching for. Like many business owners I’m still trying to get my arms around how ChatGPT and AI can help my business. Steve Jobs famously said “customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them” and boy, is that true. OpenAI needs to take that advice and offer some advice to its business users.

Not knowing where to search I decided to try out some of the popular apps listed to see if they could provide a business solution. Unfortunately, these apps didn’t really work that well for me.

For example, my company sells customer relationship management (CRM) software so I asked an app called Invideo AI to create a two-minute video explaining CRM. After answering a series of questions it did create the video which looked…well…weird. The voiceover was unnatural, some of the people were clearly AI created with that alien-like appearance and other images and videos incorporated had logos because they were obviously taken from other places. It’s potentially – potentially – amazing. But it’s not something I’d use right now without some serious post-production.

Next, I started to design some marketing materials using the Canva GPT app and after a few questions and producing a basic design I was then re-directed to the full Canva site where I would need to pay for more services in order to create something that was actually usable. I was also excited to have Whimsical Diagrams create an org chart for one of my clients and it got off to a good start before – like Canva – hitting a wall and then taking me to its site where I would need to sign up and pay for more features and functionality.

My worst experience was with an app simply called PowerPoint where I was promised a “high quality presentation.” It wasn’t. I asked the application to create a short PowerPoint presentation that shows how inflation has impacted the construction industry since 2021. It impressively returned a great example in the app, along with instructions for cutting and pasting the code into my PowerPoint software. But when I did only a black and white simplified outline was created – none of the data, charts or other statistics I thought I was receiving.

These are just a few examples of the more than dozen apps I tried.

Apps with dubious value (and concerns)

The takeaway for me is that these “popular” apps are nothing more than a marketing strategy to entice me to the developer’s site where I would have to whip out my credit card to get anything nearly acceptable for my business. On the positive side they do help move things along faster than creating something from scratch. Like many of today’s AI apps, they get you to the red zone. But it’s clear that I’ll need to pay a human to carry the ball over the goal line. No one’s losing their jobs anytime soon.

Unfortunately, I had worse luck querying for more apps. As I wrote above, I wasn’t sure what problem I was looking to solve. My company sells Zoho CRM so I searched to see if there were any GPTs related to the application and there were. I tested out a few of the GPTs by asking questions and got decent answers, even scripts to setup workflows and automation. But I was able to get similar answers directly on Zoho’s website and by querying ChatGPT directly so I’m not really persuaded that there’s any value there. Then again the GPT apps I used were free so there’s that. Why are they free? I don’t know.

Which brings up another question: are all these apps really better than the core GPT Pro that I’m already paying $20 per month for? I realize that popular apps like Consensus, ScholarGPT and Wolfram promise a more detailed LLM for research and computations and they must contain propriety data in their LLMs that ChatGPT’s core platform can’t reach. Or do they?

I’m also concerned about security. Is our data safe? Were these companies vetted? OpenAI does publish usage and branding policies but the company makes it so easy for anyone to publish an app that it doesn’t seem there’s any procedure for ensuring that these apps are OK to use. Is there someone at OpenAI reviewing these apps after they’re published? As I’m prompting, am I handing over personal information to Russian hackers?

We’re just getting started.

These are the shortfalls I experience and they’re significant enough to give me pause. But make no mistake: 2024’s AI is like 2007’s iPhone. It’s the Wild West. However, we’re just getting started on this journey and the future looks promising. So is the GPT store a good resource for your business? For some businesses, probably. But for most companies like mine and my clients it’s probably best to wait for the cream of these apps to rise to the top.

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