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April 18, 2024

How business software will look when enhanced with gen AI

As Microsoft Copilot and similar gen AI offerings are folded into the tools business runs on, better results are there for the taking.

In the news

In the race to operationalize generative artificial intelligence, most enterprises are starting to focus their efforts on internal productivity initiatives, such as employee help desks and non-customer-facing functions. The idea, and it’s a sensible one, is to learn from these early experiences inside the organization and outside the spotlight and gain some breathing space as the technology itself matures.

Eventually, experts believe, generative AI will be deeply embedded in most aspects of the organization and transform the way work gets done, including in customer-facing roles.

However, software vendors don’t have this luxury. Whether they focus on consumers, the enterprise or both, technology companies like Microsoft, Salesforce, Google and AWS are all under pressure to integrate generative AI into existing offerings.

The different approaches are fascinating. To take just one example, Microsoft recently rolled out Copilot for Security, intended to help overburdened corporate security teams with features like customizable prompts, third-party integrations and links to the company’s existing Defender tools. There are also Copilots for the Microsoft365 suite of products, Sales, Service, GitHub … you name it.

For its part, Salesforce is leaning on its Einstein offering “to make everyone a data expert.” Meanwhile, IBM is specifically rededicating its venerable Watson (newly branded as watsonx, if you please) to bring generative AI to the enterprise.

We wanted to learn more about what these efforts say about the software companies’ goals and the future of generative AI in business software. 

The Cognizant take

Ravishankar Sivalingam, Global Head of Cognizant’s Microsoft Business Group, strongly believes that generative AI—when embedded in business software workflows—will significantly improve the employee experience.

For example, he says, “a gen AI copilot could assist in talent search and match, multilevel screening and hiring, team onboarding, on-demand training, personalized feedback and coaching.” Further, the copilot could generate customized presentations and visualization reports based on user preferences and data sources.

Customer-facing applications that involve natural language generation, such as customer inquiries on products and services, email marketing and content creation, will significantly benefit from tools like Copilot for Microsoft 365, with its ability to create and improve Word documents and more.

“It can help create more relevant, personalized and persuasive content for customers and optimize it for different channels,” Sivalingam says. He points to Microsoft Copilot’s abilities in not just Word but also in PowerPoint and Outlook. Such a combination, he says, could automatically craft personalized content, catchy subject lines, headlines and calls to action for each segment. It could also personalize for an individual customer based on available enterprise data about the customer or generate product descriptions that highlight the unique features and benefits of each item based on that customer’s needs. 

For its part, Salesforce envisions its embedded generative AI tool suggesting relevant questions for datasets, combing large datasets for appropriate nuggets of information, and creating charts to help visualize insights once they’re extracted. “Generative AI can help discover hidden patterns and insights from large and complex data sets, as well as generate novel and optimal solutions for various scenarios and objectives,” Sivalingam notes.

Essentially, he says, businesses should think of any task performed by an enterprise software package—and picture that task being performed faster and often better, with improved access to more pertinent data. “Generative AI will create business transformation opportunities, including employee productivity improvements, enhanced customer experience and industry-specific business outcomes.”

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