Industry Voice: AI is reshaping the channel. Are you ready?

clock • 7 min read
Industry Voice: AI is reshaping the channel. Are you ready?

When did you last see a tech headline, new software launch or major investment that didn't involve the letters A and I?

Artificial Intelligence, to give AI its proper name, is everywhere and set to revolutionise the world as we know it. But then many said the same about Google Glass, New Coke, the Zune and Apple Maps.

So how do we know this is the real deal? After all, the concept of AI has been around for 70-odd years. Why is it suddenly so popular?

AI, like the oldest kid on the sports team, has been waiting for its supporting players to catch up. Now we've finally reached that point. Advanced technologies, such as AI and Machine Learning, are being propelled by a convergence of factors. These include the availability of more robust and cost-effective computing and storage solutions, enabling algorithms to operate at an unprecedented scale.

The abundance of diverse data sources contributes to refining AI accuracy through extensive training, while real-world use cases and impactful applications have not only created excitement but attracted significant investment. Furthermore, a global network of collaborative AI-focused entities ranging from tech giants to research institutions are working together to shape AI's trajectory.

Governments worldwide are also endorsing AI with financial backing, recognising its potential to stimulate economic growth and provide innovative problem-solving. Meanwhile, the pervasive presence of AI-driven products like Alexa and Siri in everyday life, coupled with widespread media coverage, underscores the growing public awareness and influence of these transformative technologies.

AI's role in the B2B channel

It's all impressive stuff, but what does it mean for your business and the channel you operate in?

Why not ask the tech itself? Here's what we got when we tapped "How can AI benefit the B2B IT channel?" into ChatGPT:

AI holds substantial potential to revolutionise the B2B IT channel in various ways:

  1. Enhanced Customer Insights: AI can analyse vast amounts of customer data to provide valuable insights into preferences, behaviours and needs. This information enables more personalised and targeted B2B marketing and sales strategies.
  2. Efficient Lead Generation: AI-powered algorithms can identify and qualify potential leads more accurately and quickly, streamlining the sales process and increasing conversion rates.
  3. Predictive Analytics: By analysing historical data, AI can predict trends and market demands, aiding B2B businesses in making informed decisions about inventory, pricing and product offerings.
  4. Improved Customer Support: AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can provide immediate responses to customer inquiries, enhancing customer experience and reducing response times.
  5. Supply Chain Optimisation: AI can optimise supply chain logistics, predicting demand, minimising excess inventory, and ensuring timely deliveries.
  6. Automated Data Management: AI can automate data entry, cleansing and analysis, freeing up human resources for more strategic tasks.
  7. Dynamic Pricing: AI algorithms can adjust pricing based on real-time market conditions, optimising revenue and competitiveness.
  8. Personalised Product Recommendations: AI can analyse customer behaviour to recommend relevant products, boosting cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
  9. Fraud Detection: AI can detect unusual patterns and anomalies in transactions, improving security and reducing fraudulent activities.
  10. Sales Forecasting: AI can provide more accurate sales forecasts, aiding in resource allocation and planning.
  11. Market Segmentation: AI can segment B2B markets more precisely based on various criteria, allowing for tailored marketing campaigns.
  12. Competitor Analysis: AI-powered tools can gather and analyse data about competitors, helping B2B businesses stay ahead of market trends and shifts.
  13. Process Automation: AI can automate routine tasks and processes, increasing operational efficiency and reducing human errors.
  14. Customisation and Innovation: AI can assist in designing customised solutions for B2B clients, fostering innovation and meeting specific needs.

Incorporating AI into the B2B IT channel can lead to greater efficiency, improved customer experience and a competitive edge in an increasingly data-driven marketplace.

That's 300 words of pretty solid content we didn't have to write (or edit much). See, AI can even help channel marketing firms!

Crafting a unique AI strategy beyond the hype

How you leverage AI all comes down to your specific needs. It might sound over the top, but it can help you do almost anything you need it to. Struggle with time-consuming menial tasks? AI can do them in a fraction of the time. Seeking ways to debug code cost-effectively? Let AI look for errors in your apps. Social media post ideas, business plans, chatbots, analysis, AI can turn its hand to all the jobs you don't want to do or don't have time to.

Embracing AI's potential for your business requires a customer-centric approach. Instead of generic proclamations, tailor your strategy to cut through the AI noise and showcase clear value.

AI, be it Microsoft's suite or Azure's portfolio, offers varied functionalities. Whether you opt for off-the-shelf solutions, collaborations, or bespoke applications, the expansive AI landscape can redefine businesses of all sizes. It has a crucial role to play in every business across every industry.

So, here are three tips to creating a clear AI strategy:

Customer Connection: Direct engagement with customers is indispensable. Understand their needs through workshops and surveys. These are also great for sparking interest. Proofs of concept and co-branded vendor assets will only strengthen this message and support your approach.

Expert Insights: Tap into objective views by consulting industry partners, AI developers, or utilising AI-related Market Development Funding (MDF). Upskill your team or recruit AI specialists for a competitive edge.

Marketing Synergy: Collaborate with a marketing partner to understand your value proposition and target audience. Craft-focused campaigns based on customer resonance, ensuring a strategic approach to AI success.

AI is by no means a one-size-fits-all journey. It's a diverse landscape with different meanings for individuals, roles and sectors. For some, it's simply the voice on their smartphone; for others, it's the potential game-changer that could unlock actionable insights and scalability for their business.

However, there's a catch, many are already expecting too much from AI. Understanding both its potential and limitations in its current form is crucial. By grasping the steps needed to leverage AI effectively, you position yourself not just as an AI enthusiast but as a thought leader and an innovative technology partner.

This awareness serves a dual purpose. It shields your growth from competitors seeking to steal a march with their shiny AI offerings and prevents the poaching of existing customers. As technology races forward, staying abreast of trends, both technical and regulatory, ensures you're well-prepared to address customer queries and comprehend industry-specific use cases.

But it is important to remember that not everyone is AI-savvy; some of your customers may be largely unaware of its potential. Educating them on the opportunities available becomes pivotal. Strategic campaigns, complete with targeted collateral, can transform cold contacts into warm leads.

To amplify these efforts, share useful and engaging content on social media. This not only ensures that those dipping their toes into the world of AI are well-informed about your offerings but also positions you as an authority in the field. In the ever-evolving landscape of AI, knowing how to navigate and share your expertise is the key to unlocking its full potential. After all, it is here to stay.

Want some support pulling together your AI strategy?

The sheer scope of the AI opportunity is mind-blowing. As a result, we're doubling down on our approach to AI while increasing our skills and knowledge to ensure we provide our customers with the best chance to capitalise on this world-changing technology.

Consider these points:

  • Do you have the content to support your AI offering? Content that really showcases your value?
  • Does your value proposition reflect this shift?
  • Do you have a strategic plan to compete?

Want to learn more about making AI work for your business? Download our ‘Embracing the AI-volution' eBook for a deeper look at how to prepare your organisation for AI success and practical tips on crafting your AI offering.

This article is sponsored by ResourceiT

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