Generative AI was the unmistakable de facto theme at this year’s AWS Summit in New York City — from the extensive list of GenAI-related AWS announcements to the wide variety of providers at the event’s Expo showcasing GenAI offerings for thousands of attendees. And that was to be expected, considering GenAI continues to dominate the conversation throughout the industry.

Swami Sivasubramanian, AWS’s Vice President of Database, Analytics and Machine Learning, used his event keynote to unveil a slate of new services and features to existing platforms that were eye-catching not just to its faithful developer base, but to industry and business leaders who are struggling to understand how to capitalize on GenAI for near- and long-term benefits.

Here are some takeaways from the event based on his keynote and other observations:

Democratizing GenAI for software developers

As he walked attendees through the suite of new GenAI services, Sivasubramanian made clear that he views the technology as a generational flashpoint for the industry, and AWS wants to ensure that everyone, not just developers, can take advantage of it. “It will transform every application, business and industry,” he said.

Without a doubt, AWS is already arming developers with GenAI tools such as Amazon CodeWhisperer for software coding, and the company gave developers plenty more to cheer about (and they did) with new GenAI announcements. The company added Cohere, a Canada-based start-up that offers Natural Language Processing (NLP) models, to the roster of Foundation Models available via Amazon Bedrock, AWS’s fully managed service that provides publicly available models for GenAI services via APIs from Amazon, AI21 Labs and Anthropic. AWS also added an image-generating model from Stability AI to Bedrock, providing additional GenAI services beyond text. These and other announcements highlighted AWS’s intent to continuously provide developer options for the creation of GenAI services from its platform as enterprises create new GenAI use cases or expand on existing ones. In effect, AWS is staking out a very deliberate position at the center of the industry’s emerging GenAI ecosystem, particularly for developers that need various offerings and components to make GenAI services come to life at their companies. This positioning can also engender stronger relationships between AWS and the broader developer community.

Democratizing GenAI for everyone

Beyond developers, Sivasubramanian also emphasized GenAI’s potential to improve user and customer experiences for enterprises that run GenAI services on AWS’s scalable compute and storage infrastructure. He previewed Agents for Amazon Bedrock, a service that will allow people with little or no coding background to create GenAI-based applications for complex tasks and digital services, such as customer support.

These virtual agents will analyze and break down tasks, create steps required for completion, connect to relevant data sources via integrations and APIs, and automate the entire process running on AWS infrastructure. It’s a service that could potentially unleash GenAI use case creation for AWS customers across different vertical industries, reducing what are normally manual, complex and time-consuming projects into literally a point-and-click exercise managed by non-technical employees and completely powered by AWS. It could also greatly accelerate the time-to-market for new customer support capabilities and transactional services for banking, insurance and other industries.

Data as a differentiator

When it comes to leveraging GenAI, Sivasubramanian stated it clearly: “Your data is your differentiator.” However, most enterprises struggle with managing and drawing insights from their vast sources of structured and unstructured data, a challenge that is further compounded when data plays such a crucial role in Foundation Models and GenAI services. AWS showcased several new features designed to build on top of its existing slate of BI, Machine Learning and GenAI capabilities to help customers gain more insights and value from their data stacks and accelerate GenAI services deployments.

AWS announced embedded vector engine support for Amazon OpenSearch Serverless, putting vector embeddings — which allow machines to understand relationships between texts, images, video, audio and other content – directly into the product. This allows developers to create advanced ML-enhanced search and GenAI applications without having to manage a separate vector engine, so the applications they create will produce more relevant outputs, e.g., better search results, more relevant product recommendations to consumers and more accurate responses to questions and queries. AWS also detailed Generative BI capabilities in Amazon QuickSight, powered by new GenAI capabilities via Amazon Bedrock, which allows users to utilize natural language prompts to analyze data and create new dashboards more quickly.

Selecting the right GenAI partner is critical

The AWS Summit Expo featured dozens of AWS vendor partners, each with their own competencies and specializations and many eager to engage event attendees on how they’re leveraging GenAI services from AWS. Any enterprise that is an AWS customer has a vast network of potential providers from which to choose, a choice that is even more critical given the real-time speed at which GenAI services are evolving and the proliferation of available offerings. However, this year’s Summit also demonstrated that while many providers are GenAI proponents, not every provider has the skills, real-life experience, proven solutions and access to emerging GenAI innovations from AWS. Enterprises must work with an experienced and trusted partner that can help them keep up with AWS’s rapidly expanding GenAI offerings and, most importantly, a partner with deep experience in data and software development to fully capitalize on what GenAI running on AWS can do.

With more than 30 years of data expertise and a forward-thinking CTO organization focused on innovation, Persistent’s 10-plus year partnership with AWS gives us unique (and often early preview) access to the company’s GenAI strategy and new services. We have 2,500 AWS practitioners with almost 1,000 AWS certifications that collaborate with clients and AWS itself to engineer new solutions, delivered with our 360-degree approach to client relationships that is a hallmark of our delivery excellence. It gives Persistent a distinct advantage compared to other providers, one that we will continue to leverage as we work with AWS to create GenAI solutions and new use cases that produce better business outcomes for our clients.