It’s the talk of the tech world. And everyone is seemingly trying to figure out how to incorporate it into their products and solutions. Generative AI is most definitely here to stay.

At a breakout session during Sitecore DX 2023 Minneapolis, Chris Longo, Global Partner Development Director at Microsoft, along with Aswin Mannepalli, Global Director of Strategy and Marketing at Sitecore, and Gavin Little, Senior Director of Solution Engineering at Sitecore, shared their thoughts and insights on the rise of generative AI, the potential it holds for various industries, its future, and the ethical considerations associated with its usage.

Generative AI: A game-changer for businesses

The discussion began by addressing the sudden surge in interest and adoption of generative AI, with Mannepalli identifying three key factors driving this trend:

  • The widespread and relatively economical compute (including platforms like Azure)
  • The advanced techniques and innovations previously unimaginable
  • Solving business problems in a tangible way

The last point was probably the most crucial factor for the rise of generative AI in its practical application, as it has become a powerful tool for achieving business imperatives. It helps solve numerous problems, reduces costs, enhances productivity, and most importantly, it has triggered a wave of innovation across various industries.

Additionally, Mannepalli stressed the importance of addressing business imperatives before diving into AI strategy. As he pointed out, “Machines are creating things in a very real way.“ Instead of rushing to implement generative AI, companies should first define their core objectives.

Enabling customer experiences with generative AI

Next, the conversation delved into how generative AI can enhance customer experiences. Little explained the importance of identifying and seizing the low-hanging fruit when integrating AI into your customer service operations.

Instead of attempting to tackle every conceivable AI application, Little advised businesses to focus on those areas where they can achieve quick returns on investment. Essentially his message was don't try to "boil the ocean" with AI.

Instead, pinpoint the easiest and most impactful opportunities that can deliver the most significant benefits for your customers and your bottom line. By following this approach, you'll be able to reap the biggest rewards from your AI initiatives and create a more satisfying customer experience.

Sitecore making the most of generative AI

Exploring all the ways Sitecore has been actively incorporating generative AI into its suite of products Little shared some important insights. One of the key areas of focus for the presales team has been content generation. Sitecore recognized that one of the challenges its customers often faced was the need to create multiple content variants, which could be time-consuming and resource-intensive.

By harnessing ChatGPT's capabilities, Sitecore has found a solution to this problem. ChatGPT enables anyone to rapidly scale content creation, making the process more efficient and effective.

Furthermore, Sitecore has extended this integration to Content Hub, by utilizing Content Hub's open-API model, which allows for seamless integration with ChatGPT.

Another significant area of innovation lies in the generation of imagery. By integrating advanced image generation tools like DALL-E into their platform, Sitecore has streamlined the process of creating and managing images. With this integration, users can now prompt the system to generate images automatically, and they can be analyzed and tagged using Microsoft's cognitive services, reducing manual effort.

Additionally, Sitecore is making strides in content localization, a crucial aspect of multilingual content management. With the help of ChatGPT and modern webhook architecture, Sitecore can now automate the localization of content within XM Cloud, eliminating the need for third-party translation providers and their connectors.

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Little added that the Sitecore is currently in the process of productizing these use cases, with plans to incorporate generative AI capabilities directly into our products, such as Content Hub and XM Cloud. This means that users can expect enhancements in localization, content search capabilities, and even question-answering functions.

Customer-led innovation

According to Longo, Microsoft envisions a dynamic future for their generative AI, marked by constant evolution and innovation. The company eagerly observes how partners like Sitecore harness this transformative technology.

Rather than dictating the direction, Microsoft takes a customer-centric approach. They recognize that customers' needs and preferences will steer the course, and this approach reflects their industry-centric perspective.

As he said, “The future of generative AI is not going to be led by Microsoft, it's going to be led by customers. It'll be led by what you want and what you need.”

Customers who engage with AI daily play a pivotal role in shaping its future. The emphasis is shifting from selling products to listening to what customers want, a sentiment echoed in their commitment to learn and adapt.

This shift in culture is reflective of the broader shift brought about by generative AI, which opens new possibilities for understanding and addressing customer needs. Microsoft's vast network of 400,000 partners is exploring avenues to make generative AI accessible to a wider audience, underscoring the commitment to democratize this technology.

Facing the hurdles of implementing generative AI

The three then shifted the conversation to discussing the hurdles related to the integration of generative AI. Legacy systems and technical debt can pose challenges, especially when integrating generative AI into older platforms. The integration of diverse third-party applications can also be complex.

One more thing to consider, according to Little, is governance and responsible AI. With generative AI, brands, and businesses need to ensure they maintain control over their messaging and protect their brand identity. Tools like Content Hub can help orchestrate and govern content co-authored with generative AI, enabling businesses to control and safeguard their brand's communication.

Little also addressed the fear of teams being replaced by machines, explaining that AI technology can actually free up individuals to engage in more productive and innovative tasks. Generative AI will enable marketers and content creators to explore new avenues of creativity. It will empower them to implement robust testing strategies, personalize content on a granular level, and cater to individual needs in real time.

Rather than job displacement, Little encouraged the audience to embrace AI as a tool that amplifies human potential and allows for greater efficiency.

Additionally, Mannepalli emphasized the importance of distinguishing between skill and wisdom in using AI tools, and stressed the need for careful consideration, especially in early experimentation with generative AI, as using it for the wrong tasks can lead to unexpected results and hinder innovation.

The future of generative AI

The session closed with insights about what users should expect next. Longo stated that he anticipates generative AI becoming a standard part of the digital experience. The technology will find applications in various aspects of content generation, including data models and front-end development, and it will empower developers to accelerate their work and enhance the customer experience further.

The future holds exciting possibilities as generative AI continues to evolve and impact various industries, redefining the way we create content and interact with customers.

To read more breakout sessions from Sitecore DX Minneapolis or the other DX events that Sitecore has hosted in 2023 in London, Boston, or Sydney, visit our DX events page.

Sophie Krokida is a Content Writer at Sitecore.