The AI opportunity for all IBM Channel Partners

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), there are two camps. There are those who believe it can make the world a better place and those who view AI as a leap too far.In between these extremes, we see a host of opportunities for traditional IBM Channel Partners to take their first steps to AI. Whilst no one can doubt that AI is today’s hottest ticket, you could be forgiven for thinking that AI isn’t for your company. However, can you really afford not to get involved?The benefit that core IBM partners have is that you have long-standing, mature and trusted relationships with your customers—which is a necessity if you are to successfully discuss AI.

We see the ‘AI innovation space’ as a massive opportunity for you to create and build a new service or product with your customers.

Taking the first steps toward AI

Getting started with AI can be challenging, but partners don’t necessarily have to go it alone.

As part of our Watson Partner program, IBM has developed a network that sees core partners work with AI specialist partners to create AI solutions.

At times IBM takes on the role of middle man, connecting partners with complementary skill sets ranging from born-in-the-cloud AI specialists, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), Systems Integrators, right across the board to core partners that have grown up with IBM.

Heron AI is one of the specialists in IBM’s channel ecosystem who collaborate with more traditional partners on AI projects. They are a good fit with an established IBM Channel Partner who sees AI as an opportunity, but finds it challenging to get the right skills on board. This is where Heron AI comes in by providing consultancy and development expertise to the channel—either as a customer-facing partner or via white-labelling—meaning that the partner doesn’t have to invest in resources upfront. It’s a flexible approach until the time comes when the partner is able to invest in AI more fully.

Blue Chip is one of the core IBM Channel Partners who engage with the growing community of ISVs to build AI solutions for customers. Blue Chip’s Account Director Chris Smith outlines their value proposition:

“Some of these ISVs will talk about their approach to delivering an AI solution, and my customer gets to pick the one they like, safe in the knowledge that we’ll be delivering the infrastructure and data security, which is really important.

“Without IBM’s input and the community that sits there, I don’t think it would be as rich an opportunity.”

Watson AI initiatives for partners

Launched in July this year, IBM’s Watson Build initiative invited partners to participate in a challenge to build an AI solution with the help of IBM’s AI specialists, with a view to showcasing the results at IBM’s partner conference next year. Based on previous years, this has proven to be an excellent vehicle for partners to build their knowledge, capability and new services in the AI space.

To help pilot the concept of building AI solutions together, IBM also launched the Watson Guild, which sees 13 partners from across IBM’s channel ecosystem come together to build AI solutions for two charities.

These two projects, as well as others carried out by the IBM ecosystem, have shown that AI requires a different model of engagement with clients to explore together the art of the possible.

To find out how to get started with IBM Watson AI, connect with me on LinkedIn!

Aideen Cardiff
UKI Watson AI Channel Lead, IBM UK Ltd