• The AI Writer
  • Posts
  • 'ChatGPT' for confidential work data on the way

'ChatGPT' for confidential work data on the way

Soon, you could be using an AI chatbot trained on the information protected by your company firewall

Hello, and welcome to Issue 4 of The AI Writer, your weekly update on workplace AI.

This week, we take a deep dive into the next big step in the AI revolution: chatbots that work with internal corporate information.

We also test an app that takes the grunt work out of reading long documents. And we show you how to use ChatGPT to create checklists that help you and your colleagues put key information into practice.

This issue will take you 8 minutes 19 seconds to read in full. Too long? Read the summaries in italics in just 27 seconds instead.

Let’s dive in.

– Rob Ashton

In this issue

  • Internal version of ‘ChatGPT’ coming soon

  • New app lets you use AI chat with any document

  • Use ChatGPT to create key checklists

  • Why we’ve created The AI Writer


‘ChatGPT’ for your company data? It’s coming …

Blonde professional woman sat at desk in an office looking at a computer screen

Several major companies are battling it out to provide a secure AI chatbot aimed at large organisations. So a ChatGPT-like app trained on your corporate data could soon be helping you create key documents.

If you've tried to use ChatGPT to help you with a work document or email, sooner or later, you'll have run into one of two problems.

The first is privacy. There are ways to lock down your data (see our app review, below), but not without restricting access to your previous conversations.

But even if you do throw caution to the wind and entrust it with your company's information, there's still one, big limitation that's always going to hold you back: it's trained on the internet, not your intranet.

ChatGPT is trained on the internet. So you still have to hunt down information that’s not in the public domain.

It doesn't matter whether you're pulling together case studies for a pitch worth millions or simply briefing a new colleague on how to claim for the flat white they bought a client recently. You'll still have to go old school, hunt down and collate data that’s not in the public domain.

So it’s back to scouring your system for all the relevant documents and hand picking the information an AI bot will need to work its magic. Frankly, by the time you've done that, you could have written it yourself.

Server search in seconds

So imagine how useful it would be if there were a private version of ChatGPT that was trained specifically on your internal data. No more searching. No more collating.

Simply ask the AI to suggest five points to cover in your monthly report and it would scour all the terabytes of data on your company’s servers. Within seconds, you’d have a list of items to explore further. And all without straying into the scary world beyond your corporate firewall.

Well reader, that's coming. Because an internal version of ChatGPT and its ilk is the next big thing in workplace AI, and multiple companies are investing heavily in the race to provide it.

Tech giants weigh in

First, there’s Microsoft, which, as we’ve reported, is already embedding AI in all its business software including Windows 11. The AI function, Copilot, will run on the tech giant’s secure Azure cloud system. (If you access documents from SharePoint or OneDrive, you’re already using that system.)

But several other companies are betting heavily on workplace AI too.

OpenAI themselves, who created ChatGPT, have rowed back a little on their April announcement that they were planning to launch a corporate version of their AI chatbot 'within months'.

CEO Sam Altman revealed in a closed forum with a handful of developers in London this month that he was delaying that until the end of the year.

The delay is partly down to the enormous cost and limited availability of the servers needed to run AI. And in an early account of the discussion, he was also reported to have said that companies who wanted to use a private version of ChatGPT would need to commit to a minimum spend of $100k.

The report praised Altman for being 'remarkably open' about his firm's plans. (Too open, it seems, as it has since been taken down at OpenAI's request – but not before The AI Reporter had seen it and made notes.)

Just the start

Yet ChatGPT is far from the only contender for the corporate chatbot crown. Earlier this month, database provider Snowflake recently bought out the AI-powered search engine Neeva with a view to setting up a chatbot that runs on internal company data. (Snowflake’s share price surged last week on news that Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, was taking a stake in the company.)

And computer hardware giant Nvidia (recently valued at almost a trillion dollars) announced a partnership with corporate cloud provider ServiceNow to sell an AI product that companies can train on their own internal data.

This is only the beginning. Microsoft (which part owns OpenAI) announced a slew of new services at its developer conference late last month that would enable other providers to create corporate-facing AI chatbots.

So it's not a case of if you'll soon be able to use an AI bot that can access your organisation's corporate data, but when. It may not be this month. It may not be next month. But if the speed of recent developments is anything to go by, it won't be long, for sure.



Animated gif image showing ChatPDF in action. The UK government's tax guide, 'VAT Notice 700' is visible on the left. On the right, a chat bot is answering a the query: 'What are the VAT rules when exporting from Northern Ireland to the EU?'

This app could save you hours of reading time. Just upload any PDF and ask its AI chatbot what you want to know about the document. It even provides reference links so you can check its answers.

One of my colleagues once worked with an executive who graded the turgid board reports he had to read each month according to how much wine he needed to get through them. Most took half a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon as a minimum.

That was a good few years ago, long before the AI revolution. Which is a shame, as his liver might have thanked him if he’d been able to use this app instead.

ChatPDF allows you to upload documents then ask questions about them via an AI chatbot. And it’s pretty impressive.

We tried it out on the UK’s soporific guide to sales tax, VAT Note 700. Running to 195 pages and more than 44,000 words, the tome is almost as long as The Great Gatsby (but with an inferior plot and no love interest).

The app answered most of our test questions in less than six seconds and referenced the relevant parts of the guide so we could check its answers.

‘Thinking’ in the round

It was even able to ‘think’ around questions if the document itself didn’t address them, inferring answers and highlighting the relevant section that it based its response on.

This capability varied, though. Sometimes it claimed not to know the answer, only to miraculously recover its memory if I deleted the document and asked the question again. (This isn’t surprising, as it’s powered by GPT-3.5, which often suffers from the same problem.)

We also liked the fact that it suggests questions for users to ask it, which can be a good way to get started on reviewing a document you’ve been avoiding.

Data security

Security should never be far from your mind whenever you’re uploading information to the web. ChatPDF’s founder, Mathis Lichtenberger, told The AI Writer that documents are encrypted both in transit and whenever the app isn’t in the process of answering questions about them.

He also said his company is not training its AI models on user content and would never share such data. Users can delete documents at any time according to the company’s website.

Information is also covered by OpenAI’s data usage policy, so ChatGPT’s servers should delete queries after 30 days and not use them to train their AI models either. (Theoretically, OpenAI’s employees could still read queries up to that point, though.)

The free version allows you to upload three documents of up to 120 pages or 10Mb, and to ask up to 50 questions, a day. Or you can stump up $5 a month for a Plus account, which has much higher limits.


Edge browser You can use the Bing chatbot in the new Microsoft Edge browser to do something very similar. Click File > Open File and select the PDF you want to use.

Then use the embedded Bing chat window to quiz it by adding ‘Answer from this page only' to the end of your question. Reliability was similar to that of ChatPDF, but there is no cross referencing, making it much harder to check answers.

GPT-4 plugins If you have a subscription to GPT-4, there are a number of plugins that also read PDFs. But they don’t allow you to upload documents – the PDF needs to be on a public webpage that you can provide a link to.

The AI Writer receives no compensation from the providers of the apps featured above.


Create a checklist from a long document using ChatGPT

Female delivery driver looking at parcel with checklist in other hand

This prompt will create a checklist from any long text, so you can consistently follow procedures or harness new knowledge for key decisions.

One of the best use cases for AI is to do the kind of boring donkey work that humans neither excel at nor enjoy. These are usually the tasks we avoid even when we know they would make us more effective overall.

Say you’re about to make a big purchase for your organisation. You’ve found a great analyst report that’s told you what to look for. But it’s over 5,000 words long – way too much information for your brain to retain and access when you’re speaking with potential providers.

You could go through and highlight everything you need to look for. But you’re short on time and, besides, even a document covered in fluorescent green ink is still pretty inaccessible. What you really need is to distill it into a handy checklist. But who has time for that, right? It definitely falls into the ‘things I’d do if I didn’t already have 47 things on my list’ category.

Enter ChatGPT.

What to do: 

  1. Open ChatGPT and select ‘GPT-4’

  2. Click the option to search with Bing.

  3. Adapt the prompt below.

Only GPT-4 can access the internet, and you’ll need a paid plan ($20 a month) to use that. If you’re only on a free plan, though, just copy and paste the text of your reference article instead of pasting a link to its web page.

I am about to choose a provider of [business-writing training for my team]. 

I would like you to produce a checklist I can refer to when assessing providers.

Please base the checklist on this article:


Use note form rather than complete sentences and omit definite articles. (For example, 'Provider can be flexible' not 'The provider can be flexible'.) 

Use indented, nested check boxes for each sub-point that I should check, with a question mark at the end of each sub-point. For example:

- Offers free follow-up support?

    [ ] Regular reminders of key content?
    [ ] Telephone helpline?
    [ ] Email helpdesk?

Use checkboxes instead of bullets for the sub-points.

Note: This method is particularly useful for creating checklists from standard operating procedures (especially if you suspect your colleagues aren’t following them). Again, you’ll need to paste the reference text instead of a link if the SOP isn’t on a public web page.

Give it a go

The web address in the above prompt links to a real article. So feel free to copy and paste the prompt word-for-word if you want to test it out for yourself.

Why The AI Writer?

When I founded Emphasis, 25 years ago, it was just me, a cat and a kettle. It’s since grown to become the most trusted provider of business writing training in the world and helped more than 80,000 people, from 32 countries. We’ve worked with tech giants, top 10 law firms and major financial institutions, as well as at the highest levels of government. (We’ve even sent trainers to work with clients in the Himalayas.)

I would not claim that we’re experts in everything, as we’re certainly not. But, after working with the authors of around 100,000 documents, it’s safe to say that business writing is something we do know a thing or two about. And that includes witnessing all the various ways in which organisations get it wrong.

Now, we’re at the forefront of using AI to help them get it right.

Of course, I’ve seen nothing like the AI revolution that’s hitting us. Nobody has. But I do feel a responsibility to use our experience to help people navigate this brave new world of communication bots.

So here’s the deal. You get on with your job, while we immerse ourselves in the latest developments in workplace AI. We’ll worry about keeping up so you don’t have to. Then we’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve.

Quick poll: Which ONE topic do you most want us to cover?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Please forward this email

Feel free to forward this email to anyone who might find it useful. Each issue of The AI Writer takes days to research and write, so the more people it helps, the better.

And if someone forwarded this to you, you can grab your own, free subscription here.

You can also catch up on all our previous issues.

Until next time, have a great week.

– Rob

PS. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn if you want to connect or follow me.