Yet with the market still in its embryonic stage, Eland acknowledged that confusion remains about the true definition of AI.
"There are terms such as RPA, bots, virtual assistants, machine learning and AI," she added. "It's wise for both clients and the channel partners to understand what part they want to participate in, in terms of today versus near or mid-term."
Specific to the channel, it's critical for partners to adopt a "clear strategy" around the types of automation and intelligence technology they want to provide.
"Currently there's a lot of experimentation happening, without necessarily getting any ROI," Eland observed. "So instead, work with tech partners that have a capability in understanding the 'data story' that meets your strategic needs.
"Partners must figure out what they want to specialise in, which technologies, and therefore which partners. They have to ask whether they can build capability around their current team and up-sell AI, or if they need to incubate a new business.
"These are important considerations for channel partners in terms of market positioning."
For partners already investing in AI and bots, Eland advised to "skill up" in this new domain to capitalise on up-selling AI and bot strategies, utilising innovation from leading vendors such as Microsoft, Salesforce and Amazon.
"They will be investing heavily in promoting these new offerings and are likely to provide significant support and discounts to the early adopter channel partners in this space," she advised.
In addition, new entrants and industry niche start-ups are entering the market, across a range of verticals such as healthcare and financial services.
"There's an opportunity to specialise in industry-specific data stories," Eland added. "There will be many AI and bot choices in the market during the years ahead, so there is the opportunity to be an integrator and orchestrator across the different bot platforms."
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