Companies Like Adobe Will Feel The Heat
All eyes are on the AI arms race, pitting Microsoft’s Bing against Google’s Bard in a clash of the Titans showdown competing to re-invent how we search for information and what Web browser we do it on. It’s a competition fueled by Generative AI advancements poised to reinvent our relationship with technology. In my last column—I described this seismic shift as a move toward “Conversational Computing,” citing that any online interaction that should be a conversation will become one.
However, there’s another aspect of the broader AI arms race that we need to be paying close attention to the race to augment the tech stack organizations use for productivity. Organizations will shift how they look at software from what it was before Generative AI to what it will be very shortly—the AI tech stack. Generative AI is already permeating the world of cloud-based apps, accessible via a browser or mobile app interface. Less pronounced in last week’s Microsoft ChatGPT Bing/Edge announcement was also an update that Microsoft is working on integrating the disruptive ChatGPT technologies into popular cloud-based applications, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This kind of Gen AI (Generative AI) integration will upend the world of enterprise-based software—focused on productivity, security, and scale.
The AI Tech Stack
No other large-scale software company has more to gain or lose in this shift than Adobe. Adobe successfully dominated the market by creating the go-to enterprise-grade software suite for creative professionals—from graphic designers to commercial artists to animators and video editors. Since those early brand-defining days, Adobe has successfully pivoted its creative software suite into the cloud—while also extending into data-rich areas such as marketing and customer experience. High-profile acquisitions such as Magento further secured Adobe’s place as a marketing, customer experience, and creative enterprise software powerhouse.
But especially as it pertains to the many tools and cloud services, Adobe specializes in for creative professionals, an entirely new feature set often powered by things like stable diffusion engines—an essential aspect of Generative AI. There are already scores of apps that provide photo filters, animation shortcuts, voiceover options connected to natural language processing, etc., that are poised to transform how creative professionals produce their work. This combination of AI-fueled features as part of an organization’s tech stack underscores further—what I recently described as “Intelligent Automation,” highlighting the need for humans to collaborate with these new and robust feature sets. The way creative professionals tap their suite of software to make things at scale provides an insightful roadmap for how we’ll see more usage of these Gen AI features.
Prompt Based Creativity
Professional creatives have already begun displaying their chops in this emerging area. Creative executive Tom Ajello, has been documenting his experiments with Gen AI, sharing his tips on using “prompts,” which are text-based “instructions” used to create and refine media co-created with artificial intelligence. Tom shares: “I used another generative model to create a video of myself giving this introduction. I was able to choose my virtual background, my virtual outfit, and even my virtual facial expressions. It was like playing a video game, but instead of killing zombies, I was killing the concept of having to film oneself.” He then evaluates the results of his prompt-based creative exploration “I used AI to design the presentation that you are currently viewing… I must say, the AI did a better job than I ever could have.”
Tom’s experiments are just one of the millions out there using Gen AI technologies to create, design, produce, and edit media. The landscape of platforms, tools, and apps is abundant and is likely to consolidate. The more time people like creative professionals spend leveraging tools outside the robust ecosystems built by companies like Adobe, the more critical it will be for these companies to evolve their software suites into AI-enabled tech stacks.
The AI tech stack race won’t be as visible or covered as the coming search/browser wars—but it will be no less impactful to our relationship with individual and enterprise software.