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If this is a typical week in the channel then it has already involved plenty of action on the AI front with vendors keen to flex their muscles around the technology.
HPE has announced that from the start of next year it will be making its InfoSight, cloud-based AI management tool available on its ProLiant servers, Synergy compute modules and its Apollo Systems.
“Our customers want to unlock the value of digital transformation faster than ever before. This requires evolving their data centers to deliver a hybrid cloud environment that is automated, self-healing and addresses issues in real-time – so IT staff can focus on driving transformation, rather than managing hardware downtime and policy exceptions,” said Justin Hotard, general manager, Hybrid IT Volume Global Business Unit, HPE.
Veritas has cut the ribbon on its Predictive Insights offering, which uses both AI and machine learning to deliver proactive support.
“Having consistently available IT systems is increasingly important to organisations that are responsible for managing, analysing and protecting more and more data points every day,” said David Noy, vice president and general manager, product management and alliances, Veritas.
Yesterday, Microsoft took the decision to acquire Xoxco to make sure it could generate more conversational AI in bots and voice assistants.
"Over the last six months, Microsoft has made several strategic acquisitions to accelerate the pace of AI development," stated Lili Cheng, corporate vice president, conversational AI at Microsoft, in a blog post.
"Our goal is to make AI accessible and valuable to every individual and organization, amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technology. To do this, Microsoft is infusing intelligence across all its products and services to extend individuals’ and organizations’ capabilities and make them more productive, providing a powerful platform of AI services and tools that makes innovation by developers and partners faster and more accessible, and helping transform business by enabling breakthroughs to current approaches and entirely new scenarios that leverage the power of intelligent technology," she added.
It is no surprise that vendors are rolling out solutions and making the acquisitions they see necessary to strengthen their hand but the main question has been whether AI is going to be a revenue generator for the channel anytime soon.
But the figures suggest that customers are using the technology with an MIT Global Survey showing that 48% of UK companies are deploying artificial intelligence to 'improve customer intimacy'.
“Businesses win big when they deploy AI to handle simple, repetitive tasks, saving human resources for more complicated or emotional customer needs,” said Merijn te Booij, chief marketing officer for Genesys, which sponsored the research.
Plus the experience of some of those at the coalface indicates that AI is a revenue generator already for those channel players that have got to grips with the technology.
"AI is becoming a very big topic for customers," said Margaret Totten, GCI’s head of alliances with Microsoft, "it is easy to quantify the benefits of what it is going to do."
Totten added that the interest in AI was not just coming from larger enterprises and there were plenty of SMEs looking at ways they could take advantage of the technology to improve their business operations.
"We are having more and more conversations about how communications and services can be improved," she said.