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Why knowledge is power for AI-focused partners

Hafizah Osman | June 12, 2017
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and smart things promise a new future for the channel, but how can partners capitalise?

Echoed by Cylance regional channel manager, Lani Edwards, the application of AI to cyber security represents a "complete paradigm shift" for the channel, redefining successful security as being predictive, preventative, pre-execution protection.

"In this environment, security-minded organisations are growing more comfortable with minimising the human element in endpoint security and expanding the role of AI," Edwards explained.

"The conversation has changed from one requiring a great deal of education, to one where the efficacy of AI is so sorely needed."

As a result, Edwards advised partners to adopt AI within the technology areas they already sell.

"For instance, there are vendors that are employing AI specifically for big data, storage, or healthcare," she added.

Given that AI is the next step in product evolution for most technology companies, Edwards believes investing in this transition means solution and managed service providers can stay ahead.

"AI is a complex area for solution providers and it involves a steep learning curve," she added. The channel should leverage the skill sets of its vendor partners."


Securing AI

In taking a step back from the mass hysteria however, a reality check confirms that uptake of AI still remains relatively slow across Australia.

"Machines are only as good as the information businesses feed them or how well the software is programmed to think," Fortinet network and security specialist, Jack Chan, warned.

For Chan, the disadvantage comes into play when machines don't cater for the "what-if" scenarios. "It's also important to think about automated changes that the machines will make themselves," he advised.

"This can be either a good or a bad thing, for example, you might want to put some predetermined rules or "gates" in place before machines make and implement a decision."

Alluding to the notion that AI can never work in isolation, Chan said people still need to determine the value or depth of an identified threat.

"Previous insights and knowledge can be valuable in establishing how to react to a specific scenario, plus the ongoing management and control of the organisations security framework still needs to sit within the security team," he added.

"Enterprises continue to struggle with limited defensive resources and a growing security skills shortage. "This is where AI can be further developed to pick up the multitude of threats and provide actionable intelligence."


Future of AI

In a world where data will be king, organisations that produce accurate, rich and real-time data will create a competitive advantage over laggard rivals. Yet this alone is not enough to succeed.

"It will be accompanied by the rise of the smart algorithms," TIBCO Asia-Pacific and Japan chief technology officer, Robert Merlicek, said. "As the data velocity, variety and volume increases, these algorithms will be even more important."


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