November 1, 2023
CHANNEL FUTURES LEADERSHIP SUMMIT — Vikram Khandpur, SVP of communications platforms and products at Vonage, Alan Braun, global director, partner specialists organization at AWS, and Jay McBain, chief analyst at Canalys, gave event goers at the Channel Futures Leadership Summit Wednesday in Miami some understanding into the opportunities artificial intelligence (AI) will present channel partners now and in the coming years.
What emerged, as a result, was an exchange about ethics in AI, knowing where to focus investments and figures regarding adoption and opportunity for recurring revenue for channel partners.
Vonage's Vikram Khandpur underscored the value AI can bring to the table, particularly from a partner perspective.
"Generative AI understands human language and can process and do associative reasoning with unstructured and structured data, creating a superhuman," reasoning that AI's primary role, at least for now, is human augmentation.
On the enterprise front, those companies will want access technology that until now has been more consumer-focused. It is, nevertheless, penetrating the enterprise space with grander adoption, and just as Alexa/Siri enhances the consumer arena, Khandpur reasons that businesses already crave similar capabilities.
We have seen such offerings with the creation of intelligent assistants. Unified communications and collaboration firms like Cisco, Five9, and Microsoft, along with other industry players, have all entered that market.
"And if channel partners can't extend these capabilities, customers will go elsewhere," Khandpur expressed.
Guaranteeing ethics is vital, he cautions, which is why Khandpur said Vonage launched an AI ethics committee to understand how it manages data, bringing legal, product and marketing teams into the fold to make sense of it all.
Ensuring this guides the firm's product road map, along with conversations with customers that inform pricing and sales enablement tactics.
AWS: Partners Offer the Most Significant Opportunity for Other Partners
Alan Braun is global director of partner specialists organization at AWS. He leads a team of specialists who work with channel partners to accelerate bringing AWS offerings to market. His big focus during the chat was around generative AI and data governance. How do companies democratize it?
He believes that channel partners should be able to do things like ask generative AI questions and receive reports on demand. He did add that you have to ensure access to the correct data to get the most accurate answers. The goal is greater operational efficiency, Braun said.
So where does the potential for partner success lie? With other partners, Braun said.
When channel partners come together and chat, they can figure out high-level use cases that enhance that customer experience and drive value
"We also recognize that Gartner found that 80% of business apps will be built over industry cloud, and that’s the channel, creating a massive shift from IT," Braun told partners during the panel discussion.
Specialize by targeting the market you want to capture, from health care to hospitality to other verticals, Braun said. Then, learn the vendors in the space and familiarize yourself with the existing models; as Braun cautions, "no singular model rules all, so understanding nuances is important."
Enhancing Internal Processes with Artificial Intelligence
Something that often gets overlooked is that AI can help improve various internal processes. That means automating repetitive tasks like billing and things that take up partner time and resources. Canalys' Jay McBain added that today's marketing management spends more money on tech than CIOs do.
"Generative AI will show up in marketing solutions, automation, leading to better and more competitive businesses," said McBain.
In the end, Braun shared that training is still essential as there is a knowledge gap that should be identified. For this reason, it is not enough to do it alone, but rather, partnering with the right organizations to pull off the feat of getting AI in the right places.
"And it is vital to make investments now," said Braun. "By 2030, every person in a developed country will interact with AI daily."
According to McBain, the coming five years will not be promising for MSPs.
"The biggest winners will be global system integrators thanks to certifications, consulting and wrap-around services, with the potential for 80% margins in the enterprise space," the analyst said.
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