ChatGPT comes to Microsoft’s enterprise-focused, Azure-powered managed service

Photo credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg/Getty Images

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s viral AI-powered chatbot technology, is now available in a more enterprise-friendly package.

Microsoft today announced that ChatGPT is generally available through Azure OpenAI Service, the company’s fully managed, enterprise-focused offering designed to provide enterprise access to OpenAI technologies with additional governance and compliance capabilities. Customers who must already be “Microsoft Managed Customers and Partners” can apply for special access here.

ChatGPT joins the ranks of other OpenAI-developed systems already served by the Azure OpenAI Service, including text-generating GPT-3.5, code-generating Codex, and image-generating DALL-E 2. Microsoft works closely with OpenAI after investing billions in the startup and signing an exclusive agreement to commercialize OpenAI’s AI research.

It’s apparently paying off. Microsoft said today that over 1,000 brands are registered with the Azure OpenAI Service.

The Azure OpenAI Service variant of ChatGPT costs $0.002 per 1,000 tokens, or about 750 words, with billing for ChatGPT usage beginning March 13. (ChatGPT consumes raw text represented as a series of tokens; for example, the word “awesome” would be split into the tokens “fan”, “tas” and “tic”.) This is the same price as the developer-oriented ChatGPT API launched on March 1st.

Eric Boyd, CVP of AI Platform at Microsoft, noted in a blog post that customers of the Azure OpenAI service can configure ChatGPT’s responses to “match their organization.” This is an important clue as users could trick ChatGPT into answering questions in racist and sexist ways, fabricating facts without disclosing it, and bypassing certain high-level security safeguards.

“Developers can integrate custom ones [ChatGPT-powered] Experiences straight into their own applications, including improving existing bots to handle unexpected questions, aggregating call center conversations to enable faster customer support resolutions, creating new ad copy with personalized offers, automating claims processing, and more,” wrote boyd

Despite ChatGPT’s more problematic aspects, adoption has been rapid. OpenAI has yet to provide API usage numbers, but as of December, the consumer-facing ChatGPT app was estimated to have over 100 million monthly active users. Brands like Snap and Quizlet have it integrated into their respective platforms – or plan to integrate it soon. For example, Instacart says it will use ChatGPT to create Ask Instacart, a tool that allows Instacart customers to get “buyable” answers based on product data from the company’s retail partners. And Office Depot is building a ChatGPT-based chatbot to support several of its internal business units, particularly in HR.

In particular, corporate folks seem to have embraced it, which bodes well for the adoption of the Azure OpenAI service. According to a report by Fishbowl, which surveyed professionals from companies like Bank of America, Amazon, and McKinsey, nearly 30% said they teach ChatGPT to assist with work-related tasks like marketing and advertising, programming, consulting, accounting, etc.

However, there were backlashes from some employers. Wells Fargo is among several companies that have reportedly imposed usage restrictions on ChatGPT due to productivity and compliance concerns.


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