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Partners: How To Make AI Work for You and Your Customers

Nobody has missed the buzz around the chatbot ChatGPT created by OpenAI. This is exciting, and acts as an easily accessible consumer-friendly showcase of what can be done with artificial intelligence.

Microsoft is clearly seeing the light around AI. It has supported OpenAI since 2019 and is now, according to the press, in negotiations to acquire a large stake in the business. We all anticipate that AI will change our world and people's private and professional lives.

AI will need lots of compute and storage power, which makes it a high-potential revenue driver for the Microsoft cloud. Automation through various robotized solutions is also part of AI -- a market that is already huge, and growing.

The great news is that Microsoft partners can benefit from this. Partners should look at this from at least two perspectives, one externally facing and one internally facing.

First, your customers are dreaming of AI-driven solutions, so your job is to help them understand what they need and to deliver it to them. They need a partner that is a trusted advisor, understands their business and can help them figure out what they need. Like car manufacturing icon Henry Ford famously said about the development of the Ford Model T, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." AI presents an important opportunity for partners to assist customers in understanding what they need and want.

The low-hanging fruit is in helping customers automate mundane, everyday tasks; gain efficiencies from higher-quality processes; cut costs because fewer people are needed; and speed up response times with better results for end customers. Automating a process that is rarely used doesn't make sense, so instead put your focus on where you will make the most impact and create the highest ROI for your customers.

Partners should consider either building a separate AI practice or mandate that existing practices make a plan for how to add AI in their offerings. This goes not only for professional services practices but also for ISVs and others.

If your business is geared toward a certain industry, you will benefit by having a deep understanding of the processes that are vital for these customers. (If you don't already have the right people for this, you should consider recruiting seasoned experts.) Microsoft Power Platform is a great set of tools when creating magic for your customers but you will need expertise in more technologies to become successful.

Reach out to your existing customers and start the conversations, document your successes and let your marketing team tell the story.

Second, implementing AI in your daily operations will give you benefits that are similar to what you aim to provide for your customers. There are many areas where you can make good use of AI internally. GitHub Copilot from Microsoft can help your software code development work by shortening your development cycle, increasing your quality and significantly reducing cost.

Other areas where AI makes sense internally are in your customer service desk (where you can use chatbots to automate part of the support conversations) and for monitoring your compute resources in the cloud and on-premises (where you can also automate many actions that need to be taken).

The cost of running your business can be significantly lowered if you embrace AI to the fullest. We all know that margins are slim, so any savings are welcome -- and huge savings are warmly welcome! Start small and experiment with AI. Build your knowledge and perhaps recruit a few experts if you don't have the right people already. Make sure that you keep AI at the core of your business decisions and establish internal processes for your senior management team to track the progress and to measure the outcome.

My core message is that you cannot afford not to embrace AI, because your competition will. AI will be a fantastic enabler. There's still time to jump on the train to the future, but some cars have already left the station and you don't want to be the last one out. As always, it makes sense to work together; discovering areas for partnering around AI is a great topic around which you can build alliances and partnerships. Good luck!

Posted by Per Werngren on January 23, 2023