Becoming an AI Champion, A Channel Partner How-To

We spoke with channel researchers to understand how to best champion AI in a space where embracing change is slow.

Moshe Beauford, Contributing Editor

November 13, 2023

4 Min Read
AI champion
Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock

To put things into perspective, executing artificial intelligence (AI) in the channel has led to a 52% increase in conversion rates. So says a 2023 research report authored by ANS in conjunction with JSG Group, a channel-focused research firm bossed up by Ashlyn Szilva, Ph. D. 

The report, titled Generative AI: A Channel Impact Analysis, chronicles the technology's "positive effects" on customer customer acquisition, marketing, support, customization, and collaboration. 

"We also examined how AI improves prospect identification, personalizes marketing, reduces support costs, and enhances customization and innovation, as well as AI’s role in pricing optimization, negotiation, supply chain efficiency, automation, predictive maintenance, risk assessment, and customer support," the report's author wrote.

ANS' Michael Neale

We had the chance to chat with Szilva and ANS' head of research, Michael Neale, who told us how the channel is starting to evolve beyond what it used to be and become an AI champion.

A Channel Partner Landscape Metamorphosis

Many once thought of the channel as an outdated entity. But as fresh blood enters the arena, so do reinvigorated sentiments and viewpoints on emerging technologies penetrating company workflows principally because those channel members champion, sell, and integrate artificial intelligence.

We learned from ANS leadership that there is no deficit of ways the channel can knit the technology into their stacks to improve many of their internal processes. Doing so may also have implications regarding the betterment of the agent and customer, i.e., end users and customer experience (CX). 

ANS' research also unearthed that deploying AI and becoming an AI champion for what it calls "personalized experiences" led to a 6-to-10% increase in revenue for members of the channel, with AI champions taking on self-service tasks at a rate of 20%. 

As helpful as AI might be, Neale says sentient beings need to remain in the loop to ensure AI does not run amok, "we have to position AI as a human-checked resource, Neale told Channel Futures, adding, "and we also don't want to say just throw everything in the AI and never look at it again. That's not how it works."

Back at our Channel Futures leadership Summit, Szilva said something that continues to resonate, "Generative AI will not replace you. Someone using it will."

Changing the Minds of the Channel Demands Persistence

In a world where AI is implemented appropriately, according to Szilva, her research found that 40% of those business models had greater productivity. "Leading with stats is a good place to start," she told us. And that could help to 'seal the deal' for those on the fence about deploying AI. 

Szilva notes that means that AI champions from the younger generation of channel leadership will have to take this on, adding, "some will be hesitant to adapt because things are constantly evolving, but if leaders aren't willing to implement AI, they will fall behind, and that's not a good place to be in," she said. 

It also comes down to testing the technology and understanding where it might improve various workflows, both for customers and those on the end-user side of things, Szilva told us. It will not always be an easy process, becoming an AI champion - Szilva said. It is an assignment that most should be willing to take on once they comprehend the value such technology might add to an organization and the potential ROI it might offer. 

At this point, artificial intelligence has become far more than a buzzword, and it is here to stay, so understanding how to make the most out of it and to extend value for everyone leveraging it is only to benefit those who will profit from stated technology.

About the Author(s)

Moshe Beauford

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Moshe has nearly a decade of expertise reporting on enterprise technology. Within that world, he covers breaking news, artificial intelligence, contact center, unified communications, collaboration, cloud adoption (digital transformation), user/customer experience, hardware/software, etc.

As a contributing editor at Channel Futures, Moshe covers unified communications/collaboration from a channel angle. He formerly served as senior editor at GetVoIP News and as a tech reporter at UC/CX Today.

Moshe also has contributed to Unleash, Workspace-Connect, Paste Magazine, Claims Magazine, Property Casualty 360, the Independent, Gizmodo UK, and ‘CBD Intel.’ In addition to reporting, he spends time DJing electronic music and playing the violin. He resides in Mexico.

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