ChannelVision Playbook V6

Granted, it’s in its very nascent stages, and these thinking machines don’t exactly take the form of Daryl Hannah or Rutger Hauer, but AI is already making it into the commercial realm – and into the purview of channel partners. But what is AI, exactly? In its simplest form, it’s a computer capable of pro- cessing things as quickly as the human brain—and making actionable decisions based on the input. “AI could be considered an umbrella term for all methods, theories, algorithms and technologies that enable computer sys- tems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence,” said Colleen Balda, solutions practice consultant for Big Data and Analytics at Tech Data. “Implied in this definition is machine learning, computer vision, robotics, natural language process- ing, which are all inter-related. AI enables a computer to be smart: In fact, smarter than humans.” AI in Practice The most public “face” of AI is probably IBM’s Watson, a descendent of the IBM Deep Blue project that gained worldwide notoriety after defeating Garry Kasparov at chess in 1997. Watson itself won Jeopardy! in 2011, cementing its place in popular culture. Watson has moved on from the trivia scene though and is now becoming embed- ded in tools for various industries, from jet maintenance to enterprise technology. There are plenty of early market-movers that are tapping channel partners. There’s a buzz around CrushBank for instance, which offers an IT help desk application via MSPs that was built on top of Watson. Founder By Tara Seals Smarter Partnering A reboot of Blade Runner is due in theaters this October, once again probing the ethics and ramifica- tions of creating machines that can think. Based on the seminal novella by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep , the movie (unlike the 1982 original) is being released at an appropriate time; artificial intelligence (AI) has become a reality. AI gets real in the channel 8 THE CHANNEL MANAGER’S PLAYBOOK