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Google seeks to monetize AI investments with AI security add-on for Workspace

The generative AI boom has Big Tech companies racing to out-innovate each other by offering new features and platforms that take advantage of the hottest tech trend in years. And Wall Street wants to know how all those AI apps are going to pay off.

To that end, Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), and others are increasingly looking for ways to monetize their AI efforts. Case in point, during its annual Google Cloud Next developers conference this week, Google announced its latest paid generative AI service: AI classification for its Workspace productivity suite designed to boost user security.

The AI classification is an add-on for Google’s Workspace Business and Workspace Enterprise, which cost $20 per user per month and $30 per user per month, respectively, that adds $10 per user per month.

According to Google Workspace vice president of product management Yulie Kwon Kim, the feature is designed to automatically classify important documents within organizations to prevent them from being shared, copied, or otherwise leaked to the public.

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“We use this feature here at Google, and it helps us identify and classify 900 million internal files,” Kim told Yahoo Finance. “So, this has boosted ... our data protection capabilities, improving accuracy, dramatically increasing coverage, and saving team members a lot of time, and this solves a problem that every organization has out there.”

Kim was also sure to note that while rival Microsoft has been dealing with security foul-ups with its Exchange service, including one from 2023 that a Department of Homeland Security report recently blamed on a “cascade of security failures at the Windows maker,” Google’s Workspace hasn’t had any such issues.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31: A Google corporate logo hangs above the entrance to their office at St. John's Terminal on March 31, 2024, in New York City.  (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)
A Google corporate logo hangs above the entrance to their office at St. John's Terminal on March 31, 2024, in New York City. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images) (Gary Hershorn via Getty Images)

“One in three of the most exploited vulnerabilities in 2022 were in Microsoft Exchange, so that's hitting a lot of businesses out there. And this number was zero for Google workspace,” she said.

In addition to its AI classification add-on, Google says it’s also using large language models, the foundation of today’s generative AI platforms, to cut down on spam in Gmail. The company rolled out the service, which Kim referred to as AI anti-threat defense software, in late 2023 but held off on announcing it until its Next conference so that it had time to use it on its own platform.

“We block 20% more spam in Gmail [with the new tool]. We are able to review 1,000 times more user reported spam in Gmail every day,” Kim said. “So that's basically like adding 1,000 cyber defenders to our team.”

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Subscribe to the Yahoo Finance Tech newsletter. (Yahoo Finance)

According to Kim, Google’s effort is like fighting fire with fire. While generative AI apps can be used to generate phishing emails, they can also catch emails created using generative AI, because it can tell what messages were written using the technology.

Google isn’t the only company monetizing its generative AI apps. Microsoft is also asking enterprise customers to pony up $30 per month for access to its Copilot for Microsoft 365 platform. It also sells its Copilot for Security service, as well as a host of generative AI-powered features for Azure

As companies continue rolling out generative AI apps and services, they’ll need to ensure that they not only pay for themselves but also bring in huge amounts of revenue.

Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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