Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an incredibly powerful business tool, but many organizations are not able to utilize it to its full potential. This is especially true for those who try to go it alone.
An effective way to deal with this challenge is to find a friendly partner who can help shoulder the burden. This means other businesses and organizations that don’t have the skills you do or that specialize in the support infrastructure you need, whether that’s in engineering, logistics, marketing or sales.
This is especially necessary when dealing with AI. It is certainly becoming easier for companies to start exploring and benefiting from AI. But fully integrating it into a business for every viable use case is still expensive, time-consuming and often dependent on the availability of highly skilled experts.
Businesses rely on a trusted network of consultants, suppliers, and resellers to create these partnership ecosystems. Partnerships that work in the context of AI are going to be especially important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that generate the majority of GDP and account for 90 percent of global business activity. Ultimately, it is likely that these businesses will determine whether AI achieves its estimated $4.4 trillion potential.
Challenges of AI Adoption
In my experience, topping the list of reasons why a business has difficulty realizing its AI ambitions is simply a lack of skills. Much has been written about the shortage of AI professionals, such as machine learning engineers, data scientists, and project managers with experience in the field.
After that, there are often problems with data also. This may have meant difficulty obtaining data, but today, it more likely means difficulty cleaning or preparing data, dealing with data quality, or understanding and complying with regulations related to privacy and security. .
Additionally, there are challenges regarding organizational culture. It is possible that there will be resistance from employees due to the fear that AI will eventually replace them. And management may be reluctant to delegate aspects of decision making that are often considered part of leadership.
These are all problems that are holding businesses back every day from benefiting from the advancements that AI can bring. These may seem overwhelming for businesses to tackle alone but can often be overcome with an effective partnership strategy. Let’s see how some companies are doing this:
Kate Woolley, IBM’s general manager of ecosystems, considers its partnership ecosystem, which includes technology and systems integrators as well as consultants and software vendors, as filling gaps in an organization’s skill set, building strong data strategies. Play a role in making or guiding organizational change.
Part of its strategy is to bring together the best. I spoke to him about the recent partnership agreement between IBM and SAP, which sees WatsonX embedded directly into SAP’s cloud services homepage, SAP Start. It lets users leverage WatsonX’s natural language capabilities when launching and connecting with SAP’s suite of cloud applications.
Woolley told me it’s “providing a much better user experience for SAP’s users and delivering greater value for our customers.”
In partnerships, it is often the case that one partner’s value will be the other’s unique ability to meet customer needs.
For example, Google recently announced the closure of the Jamboard whiteboarding tool that has been integrated into Google Workspace since 2016. By its own account, the Jamboard was quite well used. However, it did not prove to be as popular as other whiteboarding tools such as FigJam, LucidSpark, and Miro, which are also integrated into Workspace due to a partnership arrangement with Google.
All of these apps meet the needs of Workspace customers while keeping them within the Google ecosystem. Therefore, it makes sense for Google to stop trying to compete with them for users and simply provide them with the infrastructure they need.
Microsoft and Wolters Kluwer have partnered to develop an AI tool that provides relevant legal information, streamlines workflow for legal professionals and demonstrates the transformative power of cross-company collaboration in AI innovation. David Jones, lead program manager on Microsoft’s Modern Work Customer Co-Innovation team for this contract, says, “We thought if we could leverage Wolters Kluwer’s deep domain knowledge to determine the legal context of the document that While a lawyer is working, we can proactively surface useful information that will speed up the lawyer’s workflow and help them produce higher quality work.”
Another recently launched IBM partnership – this time with NASA – aims to democratize access to geospatial data collected by the space agency’s satellites. This partnership includes the creation of the first open-source AI Foundation model built on NASA data, and will be used to assist in tasks such as monitoring deforestation, detecting greenhouse gas emissions, and predicting crop yields. has been made.
Scaling with Partners
Partnerships provide organizations with the opportunity to develop their own collaborative processes. This creates opportunities for businesses to share best practices and learn from each other. It exposes each partner’s services to the other’s audience, acts as an endorsement and creates opportunities for shared promotion and marketing outreach from both companies.
When executed effectively, it allows both partners to leverage each other’s reputation and credibility to communicate trustworthiness among audiences and potential future customers.
This strategy can be seen in partnerships like Coca-Cola and Spotify. The soft drink maker provided value to its customers by providing the technology behind Coca-Cola Music, while Spotify benefited from Coke’s global marketing outreach.
American Express created value and increased loyalty by offering exclusive benefits to its members through a partnership with AirB’n’B, increasing exposure of Amex cardholders to the affluent consumer segment.
But perhaps the biggest benefit that many businesses gain through partnerships is the ability to share resources and knowledge. A partner’s specific skills are often used to enhance functionality and user experience.
The future of partnership?
As technology evolves, so does the nature of partnerships. As AI use cases continue to emerge, I’m sure more and more organizations will discover the benefits of forming partnerships with others who share compatible vision and values.
One concept that will become increasingly common will be centers of excellence. These can be thought of as hubs that connect to multi-partner networks and act as a central repository where lessons can be shared and opportunities explored. IBM has been quick to link this trend to the rise of generative AI. Launched this year, its Center of Excellence for Generative AI is designed as an access point to a network of over 1,000 experts in the emerging technology. Already, more than 100 of its customers have taken advantage of these opportunities, with results including AI-generated spoken word commentary at The Masters and applications in chemical engineering and customer relations.
Another example of an organization leading the way in leveraging the dynamics of partnerships comes from ChatGPIT creator OpenAI. The company has been highly active in tying up with third-party applications and service providers, including Expedia, Shutterstock, and Coursera. By all accounts, OpenAI has created streamlined processes for partnering with businesses that can use its technology to improve their service, recognizing the important role it plays in growing their user base.
I believe that a clear and open approach to building a partnership ecosystem will become the standard model as more organizations engage with the needs of AI. If managed well, it will play an important role in driving the next generation of IT innovation.