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Channel can make money from generative AI

Generative artificial intelligence has gone from hype to use cases to become a growing channel opportunity

The channel is expecting generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) to be a revenue generator this year, as more customer use cases emerge and their ability to deliver products, security and services come into play.

GenAI emerged as the hot topic last year, but at that stage it was more conversation subject rather than physical orders.

That situation is changing, with many in the channel looking to GenAI as one of the bright spots for 2024, with the technology expected to generate decent revenues for partners.

Kirsty Biddiscombe, UK AI and data analytics lead at NetApp, said the channel starts with an education role and can build from there.

“Many customers do not have the capabilities or understanding of where to start their generative AI journey. The opportunity for the channel is to engage with them in a consultative manner and offer a full wraparound service to help them take their first steps. This should involve a comprehensive data assessment, looking at how the data is stored, if its clean, secure and being accessed responsibly,” she said. 

“It’s all about investing the time in building a really solid, secure, traceable data foundation that allows you to deploy any AI model on top. Getting this step right then allows the flexibility to layer in complementary solutions and tools as and when the customer requires them,” she added.

Ian Anderson, senior director of partner sales at Park Place Technologies, said that there were advantages from following a strategy of being able to offer an AI consultancy role: “Advise customers on how to architect their IT to make the best use of the technology. In that role, an adviser can help a customer navigate specific AI capabilities for their needs, such as what type of storage and networking infrastructures and capabilities are needed, and what maintenance requirements that creates.”

With a need for education, strategy guidance and deployment across various parts of the user network, GenAI should be clear additional area for managed service providers (MSPs) to specialise in.

“Being among the first to embrace generative AI allows MSPs to establish themselves as pioneers, gaining recognition and trust from customers. By optimising workflows through AI, MSPs can drive efficiency, reduce costs, and allocate resources more strategically,” said Martin Wood, chief product officer at POPX.

Adding any layer across a network adds risk, and those with security skills will also have a chance to help secure GenAI environments.

“The field of cyber security presents ample opportunities for growth through the use of generative AI. Customisation is key to providing tailored solutions to customers, whether by integrating AI tools into existing systems or creating customised applications. In addition, bespoke training and support using AI, along with consultation on ethical AI implementation and ongoing best practices, will help customers navigate this new landscape,” said Jason Kemmerer, solutions architect at Forcepoint.

“It’s important for the channel to consider how to monetise AI, but this must be done while prioritising the protection of models and data,” he added.

There are also risks for those choosing to wait to see if GenAI is going to deliver decent revenues.

Sara Wilkes, chief operating officer at Agilitas, said: “For the channel companies that don’t leap into GenAI, there is still the potential to make money by using AI to improve productivity levels, therefore being able to use resources to focus on other key revenue-generating areas.

“However, the risk-reward for those companies wanting to explore AI opportunities could be far greater, with AI consulting services, developing custom AI solutions, providing AI integration services and offering AI training all going to be areas in demand over the coming years.”

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