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Fighting the odds and Winning the AI game

17-Oct-2019 12:59 PM

Posted by Prashanth GJ, CEO, Technobind

Is Artificial Intelligence the new golden child? One thing is certain--there isn’t a single industry that hasn’t explored at least one use-case of this technology in the last one year. Many global enterprises are already deploying this technology at scale.

Walmart, for instance, created a completely AI-driven store, which gave us a glance at how our future retail stores will look like! In the banking and insurance sector, advanced automation techniques have already made significant impacts in terms of chatbots and automated fraud detection among other things. There are growing number of use cases in sectors like manufacturing and healthcare as well.

In next three years, spending on cognitive and AI systems is predicted to reach a whopping $77.6B, which is more than three times the value estimated in 2018, according to IDC estimates.

However, technologies like AI, ML, Robotic process automation and to some extent, IoT remain some of the least demystified terms. Automation technologies are often projected as ‘job killers’, causing quite a lot of apprehension in markets like India. The truth is, advances in AI and other technologies will replace many tasks that are today done by people, and in turn, allow human beings to focus on more high-skilled jobs. So AI is more about role changes, rather than job losses. And whether we are ready for the change or not, cognitive technologies are playing an instrumental role in shaping future businesses and service deliveries as we talk.

Is the channel ready?

Over the years, globally, the IT reseller community has gone through many technology transitions. Every single time—whether it’s the early ERP/software automation wave, virtualization or the Cloud—we were told that our traditional businesses will stop to exist or become irrelevant. But, ironically enough, resellers have only grown in importance. Cloud specifically is a great example for this. I have witnessed serious cynicism among the partner community when the cloud became reality. But a few years down the line, cloud has become a key business focus and the single largest factor that drives these partners’ top lines and bottom lines.

Enter AI, ML, RPA and IoT, and I am seeing the same scepticism among many partners once again.

What do these technologies mean for the SI community? Do they need to develop specialized skills to be successful? Can vanilla solution providers leverage this technological shift in the market? These are questions that we come across very frequently.

I think it’s time that partners embrace this sweeping change. To do that however, they will need to significantly change the technology storytelling.

In my opinion, business opportunities around AI, ML and RPA are colossal and that’s evident from the way the big tech brands are investing in these areas. Whether it’s Microsoft, Google or Amazon, the global giants are tapping into this opportunity primarily through their cloud-based AI platforms.

The good news is, there is ample opportunity for other players to provide similar models on premise as well. In fact, AI and ML can be looked at as any other workload and has to be approached how messaging or ERP was approached many years ago. Traditional partners have absolutely no reasons to get overrode by technologies like AI or ML, because the complimenting infrastructure and technology requirements present a real big market for them.

Most of these projects require high performance computing, smarter and faster storage, and associated networking infrastructure, which are all areas that partners can currently leverage.

Some of the large technology vendors, namely NVIDIA, Pure Storage and Super Micro, have been actively addressing the infrastructure opportunities around AI and cognitive technologies. This is evidence to the fact that IT infrastructure market is not going away for a long time—irrespective of how a particular technology will redefine it.

I think, the need of the hour for the partners is to focus on the right product positioning and messaging with respect to AI and cognitive technologies. Instead of having a ‘holier than thou’ approach to these technologies, SIs can possibly change the conversation and look beyond the usual dialogues of technology reselling. Because, soon enough, AI and ML have the potential to be the largest piece of the pie for the partner community.