Partnerships are the fuel that drives innovation—and in some cases that means partnering with an organization that might typically be considered a competitor for the greater good of all businesses. While many companies take this approach, I recently had an opportunity to talk to two companies—IBM Consulting and Microsoft—about how their partnership will accelerate the cloud journey for many businesses.
In August, the two companies announced IBM is expanding its collaboration with Microsoft to help joint clients accelerate the deployment of generative AI (artificial intelligence). Ultimately, this will deliver a new offering to companies. With this announcement, the companies will focus on helping clients to implement and scale Azure OpenAI Service.
The new IBM Consulting Azure OpenAI Service offering, which is available on Azure Marketplace, is a fully managed AI service that allows developers and data scientists to apply large language models, including their GPT and Codex series.
My recent interview with Francesco Brenna, VP and senior partner, global Microsoft practice leader, IBM Consulting, and Srinivasan Venkatarajan, director, data and AI global partner business, Microsoft, revealed what the two organizations are doing together now and what they are looking to accomplish for customers in the coming months.
“Helping clients with their cloud journey is very much the core part of our IBM Consulting or overall IBM strategy, which is all around hybrid cloud and AI. Together with Microsoft, we help our clients first of all modernize their entire landscape toward cloud,” says Brenna.
He adds what most customers are asking and seeking help for is how to do AI safely, efficiently, and securely across their enterprise—and making sure all while they are going to deliver tangible business benefits.
“We also help our clients with a very strong industry focus on really driving industry transformation, industry-specific use cases on top of the cloud,” he says. “Whether this is in financial services, in healthcare, in retail, in manufacturing, we really combine our deep industry knowledge, our deep client knowledge that we have in IBM Consulting, with the technology for Microsoft.”
Microsoft recognizes the value here as well, saying it aims to enable partners to collaborate and create personalized offers for customers through the Azure marketplace.
“Microsoft has always been a partner-led company and we will always be a partner-led company as well. Microsoft works with companies to accelerate their cloud journeys in multiple ways,” says Venkatarajan.
This includes training, certification, and support for partners to develop their staff and their skill levels, while also connecting partners with each other to share their best practices. Chief among them, Venkatarajan explains, is to help customers and partners harness this together to drive value faster.
Brenna suggests when looking at the partnerships between Microsoft and IBM Consulting, there are three big things to consider.
- IBM Consulting worked with the Microsoft team to ensure it had early access to the technology so it could build up skills and capabilities to assist clients with their adoption journey.
- IBM Consulting took an industry approach to go to market. This means companies should not just use generative AI for the sake of using gen AI. Rather companies should use it to solve specific business problems. IBM Consulting focused on a few selected areas including procurement and finance, healthcare, financial services, and knowledge exploration or discovery areas. All in all, using gen AI can help augment experts across various industries.
- Finally, both companies have a aligned their focus on responsible adoption of AI and making sure the adoption of gen AI is trusted.
At the end of the day, the two companies can drive value for the client, helping to do the foundational work that is needed to continue on the cloud journey. In the year ahead expect these two companies to continue to work together to co-create industry solutions that will ultimately give customers new, innovative solutions. The future is certainly bright.
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