Peter Sayer
Senior Editor

What enterprise software vendors are doing with generative AI

Aug 15, 20237 mins
Artificial IntelligenceCIOGenerative AI

CIOs are cautiously evaluating generative AI for use in their own applications, while enterprise software vendors press ahead.

He Works on Desktop Computer in College. Applying His Knowledge in Writing Code, Developing Software.
Credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

2023 has been a break-out year for generative AI technology, as tools such as ChatGPT graduated from lab curiosity to household name.

But CIOs are cautiously evaluating how to safely deploy generative AI in the enterprise, and what guard-rails to put around it. Sometimes, though, it sneaks in through the back door as a result of ad-hoc individual or departmental initiatives — or even through the front door, bundled by the vendors of enterprise applications already in widespread use.

To help IT leaders keep tabs on their exposure to generative AI, offers this round-up of the latest generative AI announcements from some of the major enterprise software vendors.

August 2023

Salesforce sets out to train generative AI models with Einstein Studio

With Einstein Studio, Salesforce offers to help enterprises train and run generative AI models on their customer data stored in its Data Cloud. It can connect the data to a variety of LLMs, open source, or proprietary, the company said.

July 2023

Microsoft adds Copilot abilities to Dynamics 365 suite

Microsoft will roll out its Copilot generative AI assistant across more of its products. Already it can help analyze Excel data, create PowerPoint presentations, and write code. Now it’s added a Sales Copilot to its Dynamics 365 to help sales staff create email pitches based on customer data held in the ERP suite. Microsoft hopes this and other generative AI features will encourage the 90% of Dynamics customers that still run it on premises to move to the cloud.

Splunk adopts generative AI to help with observability

Splunk already uses AI in its suite of tools to analyze machine-generated data. Now it’s adding a generative AI assistant built with Google’s text-to-text transfer transformer model, T5. Splunk says it may take a little work to get good answers from the preview version as it’s looking for help from customers to improve the model’s training.

ServiceNow expands Now Assist virtual assistant to help coders

Now Assist will soon gain some new generative AI features to help ServiceNow customers make greater use of the Now Platform. A case summarization tool will spare agents in IT, HR, and customer service the hassle of writing up their interactions with clients, while a text-to-code function will make it easier to automate new processes using natural language to describe how they should work. Both additions use LLMs developed in-house by ServiceNow, and should be generally available in September with the Vancouver update to Now Platform.

June 2023

Oracle’s generative AI investment surfaces in HCM tools

Oracle is taking a three-pronged approach to generative AI adoption. At the hardware level it’s adding new instances to its Oracle Cloud Infrastructure service tailored for AI workloads. OCI Supercluster will combine thousands of Nvidia GPUs and high-speed memory for training LLMs. On top of that, it’ll offer cloud services that it, other SaaS providers, and enterprises can use to build generative AI into their own applications. The first of those applications in which the capabilities will show up is Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM), where it will help users by writing, summarizing or recommending content.

ServiceNow puts gen AI in Now Assist for Virtual Agent

Now Assist for Virtual Agent will eventually allow ServiceNow customers choose from a range of generative AI tools (initially, only OpenAI and Microsoft Azure tools are supported) to help them design self-service business processes by accessing relevant pieces of enterprise content. Already in testing with a small number of customers, Now Assist for Virtual Agent will be generally available from September.

Salesforce bundles generative AI tools in one AI Cloud blanket

For $360,000 a year, Salesforce’s AI Cloud Starter Pack bundles all its generative AI services in a single offering. It includes Slack GPT, Tableau GPT, Apex GPT, Mulesoft GPT, Flow GPT, Service GPT, Marketing GPT, Commerce GPT, and a couple of other tools to wrangle data and train models. Analysts don’t expect AI Cloud to attract many customers, though, as there’s no unified interface for all the disparate tools, and many customers will already have access to the ones they most need as part of other Salesforce offerings.

Salesforce’s Einstein GPT learns about marketing and e-commerce

Salesforce said its Einstein GPT generative AI toolkit will soon be able to personalize marketing emails by automatically segmenting audiences, resolving customer identities, and creating relevant content for them — although most of the new features in Marketing GPT aren’t slated for release until October. It’ll also lend a hand with e-commerce, delivering a multi-channel “concierge” experience from February 2024. One feature of its Commerce GPT almost ready to go is a tool to fill in missing catalog data called Dynamic Product Descriptions, which will be available from July, the company said.

May 2023

Alteryx generates data visualizations with AI

Analytics automation vendor Alteryx uses generative AI to add three new functions to its data visualization platform. Magic Documents, a feature of Alteryx Auto Insights, uses generative AI behind the scenes to deliver data visualization summaries and automatically generate targeted PowerPoints and emails based on them. The other two additions are in Alteryx Designer: Workflow Summary enables users to automatically document processes and related metadata in natural language, while the OpenAI connector lets them incorporate ChatGPT interactions in their data workflows.

SAP plans home-grown generative AI assistant

Hot on the heels of its announcement of a generative AI collaboration with IBM, SAP said it’s also developing its own generative AI technology. SAP Digital Assistant will not be a full-fledged chatbot like ChatGPT, but rather a contextual prompt in apps within SAP’s Sales, Service, Marketing, and Commerce Cloud products. Be patient, though: it won’t even enter beta testing until Q4 2023.

Tableau GPT is latest target of Salesforce’s generative AI initiative

Tableau is getting the Einstein GPT treatment. Despite the GPT name, Salesforce is deploying a variety of LLMs from OpenAI, Cohere, or its own development team in its efforts to add generative AI to its product range. Tableau GPT will use generative AI to make data analysis more like a conversation, the company said.

ServiceNow develops generative AI applications with Nvidia

ServiceNow sees plenty of scope for using generative AI to help enterprises automate more of their workflows, and is working with Nvidia to develop AI models dedicated to those tasks. Nvidia has refocused its business on AI over the last few years, working to deliver computing power and software optimized to train AI models such as the LLMs behind generative AI, and make them available as-a-service through its DGX Cloud offering. That’s what ServiceNow will use to build the models it’s developing.

Informatica will use generative AI to manage data

Intelligent Data Management Cloud (IDMC), Informatica’s tool to manage enterprise databases, is getting a generative AI makeover. One of its components, data management automation engine Claire, will soon become Claire GPT, enabling users to ask questions of their data in natural language without having to learn SQL. Claire GPT is still in private preview, but the company plans to release it before year-end.

SAP aims to automate application management with generative AI

SAP intends to build IBM’s Watson AI engine into much of its software portfolio, beginning with the SAP Start AP, where it’ll enable users to interact with SAP applications using natural language. Watson isn’t itself a generative AI tool, but SAP sees its natural language processing capabilities as a first step on the way to use generative AI more widely. The two companies are jointly developing LLMs and generative AI capabilities, they said.