Lenovo is positioning partners towards deploying artificial intelligence (AI) solutions across Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ), as customer interest continues to spike.
Yet despite businesses seemingly upping the AI ante on both sides of the Tasman - driven by global spending of US$24 billion in 2018 - the channel continues to lag behind the market.
“Partners are not opening up the AI conversation,” said Madhu Matta, vice president of High Performance Computing and AI at Lenovo. “The first step for our channel to start to have a discussion with the customer in a very easy manner.”
In assessing both local and global markets, Matta said customers are preparing to invest in AI technologies, but remain hampered by a lack of guidance.
“Within the data centre, our AI efforts have been going on for around close to two years,” Matta added. “And right from day one our vision was very clear.
“Most customers know that they need to use AI in some form but it is incredibly difficult in that most of them have no clue where to start.”
Citing a lack of direction among end-users, Matta said businesses remain grid-locked by an inability to commence projects, creating delays before work has even commenced.
“Everything has to start with the business problem a customer is trying to solve,” Matta added. “Our job is to build the best tools possible to allow customers to take advantage of AI, but we also want to start earlier than that.”
In essence, Matta urged partners to “force the conversation” around AI deployments, backed up by “simple collateral” and easy to understand starting points.
“A one pager is enough to get the conversation started,” he advised. “Because I guarantee the moment you ask the first two questions, the customer is absolutely going to want AI.
“Then, our role is to help train partners and customers and allow them to leverage our innovation centres and expertise across AI.
“We recently launched a channel-ready reference architecture solution that is available to any partner today. It’s ready to go and covers a specific set of deep learning configurations.”
Lenovo’s drive through the channel comes as global spending on cognitive and AI systems is forecast to reach US$77.6 billion in 2022, more than three times current market figures.
“The market for AI continues to grow at a rapid pace," added David Schubmehl, research director of AI at IDC. "Vendors looking to take advantage of AI, deep learning and machine learning need to move quickly to gain a foothold in this emergent market.
“IDC is already seeing that organisations using these technologies to drive innovation are benefitting in terms of revenue, profit, and overall leadership in their respective industries and segments.”
Of note to the channel, software will be both the largest and fastest growing technology category throughout the forecast, representing around 40 per cent of all cognitive/AI spending.
Two areas of focus for these investments are conversational AI applications - spanning personal assistants and chatbots - and deep learning and machine learning applications.
Meanwhile, hardware - such as servers and storage - will be the second largest area of spending until late in the forecast, when it will be overtaken by spending on related IT and business services.
“To succeed, partners must be able to piece a solution together,” Matta explained. “This is much more orientated to a system integrator type of partner.”