2023 was the year of generative AI. It all started with the hype around OpenAI and their flagship product ChatGPT. Although it did not crack the top 20 most popular apps of 2023, ChatGPT added more users than any other app, with its popularity increasing from 0% to nearly 7% of all enterprise users by the end of the year. As ChatGPT grew in popularity, other companies began creating competing chatbots, and even more companies began creating niche products to leverage the power of these large language models (LLMs). The idea of an AI-powered assistant to help in tasks like writing, programming, and even security operations took off. At the same time, apps for generating images, videos, and audio were also released.
The enterprise cybersecurity community did what it typically does when a new technology with this much hype hits the market: Quickly determine whether these apps serve a legitimate business purpose and–for the cases where they do–figure out how to safely enable their use. For many organizations, this meant pumping the breaks, blocking the apps until they could go through proper security review. In general, this meant that these generative AI apps gained popularity in the enterprise more slowly than they did in the consumer market.
But their popularity did grow. The following graph shows an increase in AI app popularity resembling a sigmoid, increasing from just over 2% of all enterprise users accessing at least one AI app per month a year ago to more than 10% doing so today. Most of that growth occurred in the first half of 2023 and cooled off toward the end of the year.
A plot of the growth of the top three generative AI apps provides more insight into the shape of the overall popularity graph above. ChatGPT was the most popular app by a large margin, with the writing assistant Grammarly coming in second, followed by the Google Bard chatbot in third. The following plot provides a detailed breakdown of the growth of these three apps. ChatGPT was the main driver of the sigmoidal growth pattern in the first half of the year, rising from nearly 0% to 7% of the enterprise user population very rapidly. Google Bard had a similar shape to its growth later in the year when it became generally available, but its adoption paled in comparison to ChatGPT. Grammarly started the year as the most popular AI app due to its pre-existing user base, and while it did not see as aggressive growth as ChatGPT, its popularity continues trending upward. In the next year, Netskope Threat Labs predicts that Grammarly will continue its rise in popularity and close the gap between it and ChatGPT, but will still lag behind the all-purpose chatbot.
Most users only interact with generative AI apps a few times per month. Over the course of the past year, the average user increased from 5 activities per month to 14 activities per month, where an activity is most commonly a prompt posted to a chatbot. The top quartile of AI app users showed a more significant increase, from 15 to 85 activities over the course of the year. This indicates that a quarter of the AI user population are power users who are increasingly rapidly increasing their use of generative AI apps. Netskope Threat Labs expects both of these trends to continue into 2024: the total number of users accessing AI apps in the enterprise will continue to increase only modestly, while the amount of activity from power users will increase significantly as the population of super users finds new ways to squeeze additional value from these technologies.
A closer look at the top ten generative AI apps as 2023 draws to a close reveals three noteworthy trends that we expect to see continue into 2024.
Chatbots reign supreme
ChatGPT, the first generative AI chatbot to rise to popularity, is still on top at the end of the year, with 6.7% of enterprise users interacting with the chatbot at least once per month. Google Bard, Google’s ChatGPT alternative, is the second most popular chatbot, but has just more than one-tenth of the user base. ChatGPT and Google Bard are general-purpose and can be used to support business functions, like helping with writing and programming tasks or information retrieval, or for entertainment. Their versatility is one of the primary reasons for their popularity. Other more niche customer engagement chatbots–ChatBase and Blip–also made the top ten but with even fewer users.
AI assistants are catching up
One of the most popular uses of generative AI technology in the enterprise so far is as a writing assistant. Grammarly, the second most popular generative AI app, is used by 3.1% of enterprise users, with alternatives QuillBot and Wordtune also making the top ten. Tabnine is a programming assistant that helps programmers write code more efficiently. Netskope Threat Labs expects that AI assistants, especially writing and programming assistants, will continue to grow in popularity in 2024. Their integration into commonly used tool sets for writing and programming and the fact that they are specifically designed and tuned for those tasks will fuel their popularity growth. The fact that they cannot be used for entertainment purposes will also likely remove barriers to their adoption in the enterprise, whereas other apps, like general purpose chatbots, may suffer.
AI art generators are moving into the enterprise
AI art generators, specifically those that can generate images, eked their way into the number 9 and 10 spots of the most popular generative AI apps in the enterprise. Like chatbots, AI art generators are all-purpose tools that can be used for entertainment or to support business functions, both of which factor into their popularity in the enterprise. Because of their entertainment uses, especially their ability to generate content that is not safe for work, they are likely to remain at the bottom of the popularity list in enterprise environments for the foreseeable future.