The race for AI assistants has grown boring

A CGI image of a purple glass statue, with its back three-quarters to the back of the camera to represent an AI assistant. It is set against a solid blue background.
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2023 truly was the year of generative AI and AI assistants. A wave of hype and hyperbole permeated the global technology sector as major industry players such as Microsoft and Google accelerated the roll-out of powerful new tools aimed at supercharging productivity. 

Leading the pack with its Copilot AI tools, Microsoft unveiled a slew of announcements across the year, with the OpenAI-supported productivity assistant now finely woven into the very fabric of its core product offerings. 

But while all this made for flashy headlines and a source of excitement for businesses, there was a sense that the industry became somewhat swamped by announcements and all-too-similar products.

The tit-for-tat AI arms race unfolding between Microsoft, Google, and AWS, was, truth be told, uninspiring. With Microsoft stealing a lead in the generative AI boom, it was expected that competitors would follow suit and look to match their efforts. 

But while matching innovation is one thing, what we’ve ended up with is much the same from every major player. The scramble to keep pace with each other has essentially resulted in an industry landscape with no real differentiation. 

AI assistants are all alike

Take Google Bard, for example. The launch of the chatbot outlined features akin to that already on the table for Microsoft customers through ChatGPT, offering conversational-style answers to user queries. 

Within a matter of weeks, Bard users were given access to code-generation features using natural language prompts. The update offered access to code generation capabilities across a host of popular languages, including Python, Java, C++, Go, Swift, and HTML.

Google users are essentially running the company’s own branded GitHub Copilot-style tool for their own environments. Surely there’s more to generative AI than fine-tuning code?

Security, unsurprisingly, has also witnessed its own generative AI imitation game. 


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Microsoft’s Security Copilot was unveiled in March 2023 while just one month later, Google Cloud touted the launch of its own generative AI security assistant. At the time, Google described the platform as an “industry-first extensible platform”. Both tools provide users with roughly the same capabilities, such as natural language-based insights into attack paths and real-time network analysis. 

A slew of security vendors, including CrowdStrike and Cisco, also banged the generative AI drum with the launch of their own AI assistants; with the latter of these two firms arriving long after competing tools in December.

While it would be wrong to suggest these features aren’t useful for customers, they are, as mentioned, much of the same. 

AWS: late to the game, but not quite the same

Of the three main hyperscalers, AWS was arguably the quietest across 2023. The launch of Amazon Bedrock in April did offer a glimpse into its different approach to LLM access, but other than that the firm has been rather reserved. 

AWS re:Invent, the firm’s annual flagship event in November, offered a chance for it to shine, but the end result was quite disappointing.

The hyperscaler did unveil its own AI assistant during re:Invent, however, which came as something of a surprise to many. Amazon Q was touted by the firm as a key differentiator in the looming battle with Google and Microsoft, and to its credit, it has a strong case for being a genuinely unique offering. 

Similar to Microsoft Copilot and Google Bard, Amazon Q will provide natural language-based responses to user prompts, which on the surface doesn’t exactly appear any different from industry competitors. 

However, IDC analyst Neil Ward-Dutton told ITPro at re:Invent that AWS has managed to avoid creating a ‘monolithic’ AI assistant by framing it as more as a multi-faceted ‘adviser’ tool with wide-reaching applications across several business functions.

Not limited to strictly code generation or security operations, AWS certainly appears to be dipping its toes into every data pool across the enterprise with Amazon Q.

AI assistants are still behind on creativity

Generative AI has been touted as a technology that has the potential to transform both productivity and creativity for users. So far, creativity among providers has been somewhat lacking.

But the reality is that the industry is little over a year into the journey so far. 

The year ahead could end up being another endless cacophony of product announcements, but the maturation of generative AI development at major industry players does paint a promising picture moving forward. 

Generative AI investment shows no signs of slowing, and with more than half of businesses now using the technology in full production - or at least in a pilot phase - the demand for more intuitive service offerings that streamline productivity will only continue.

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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