Introduction

Almost every prominent brand in the telecommunications & technology sector has added Artificial Intelligence (AI) on its product roadmap. From communications to cybersecurity, AI technology is being infused with existing products and services to enhance intelligence and functionality. 

Meanwhile, a whole slew of companies are introducing revolutionary products and services powered by AI technology. For these companies besides product and go-to-market strategy, an innovative sales strategy is a must to be successful.

The biggest challenge that AI-driven companies face is the need to have a productized solution. Most AI solutions that are available in the market today require some level of customization to be able to deliver true value to the customer. Any level of customization adds complexity to the sales process.  Hence most AI companies focus on direct or in-house sales approaches. However, Channel can also be a lucrative sales strategy especially if it can be implemented effectively. 

The Channel Approach Of The AI World

Some of the companies like DataRobot and H2O.ai are ahead of the game and have a fully-developed channel strategy. From defining different levels of partnership that address each specific type of channel partner to a partner portal and channel-specific resources they have comp[letly enabled traditional channel partner ecosystems.  

While some companies focus on working with traditional channel partners, Freenome, which leverages AI for early detection of cancer is partnering with pharmaceutical companies, integrated health systems, and academic institutions to use its multi-omics platform to address cancer’s most pressing challenges.

Some companies like Nauto focus on industry-specific value-added partners like insurance, automotive and tech companies but also have a reseller program in place subscribing to the traditional channel partner model.

Will The Channel Strategy Work In The AI-World?

Xeo AI is a Canadian AI & Cloud distributor that did early-adoption of AI companies and has a few AI-powered solutions and AI vendors in their portfolio.  

But most traditional channel partners that operate primarily in the Information, Communications & Technology world have adopted AI-infused products and services from the big brands like IBM and VMware with open arms are still apprehensive about adding new AI-powered products and solutions into their sales portfolio. 

They are carefully following the industry trend but are still waiting to see if the channel strategy will work in the AI segment?

What Do We Think…?

The AI companies that have an off-the-shelf product will be able to launch and will benefit from the adoption of the traditional channel strategy. AI companies that have products and solutions that require some level of customization will have to get creative and work with industry-specific partners that add value to the overall offering. Another way to enter into the channel world would be to initially partner with managed service providers (MSPs) and resellers that specialize in certain industries. For e.g UEAT, the AI-powered restaurant food ordering system can work with channel partners and resellers that specialize in providing technology solutions to the restaurant & food services industry.

That said, it cannot be denied that AI is a new world and mobilizing the channels is more complex than ever.  The success of channel partners depends on several factors including the knowledge of the partners on the AI technology and their comfort level positioning an AI solution to the business buyer with confidence.

It is too early to predict which specific channel model will work successfully in the AI-world. We are watching the industry closely and will continue to bring changes to you as soon as we observe it. 

We would love to hear thoughts and comments of the channel world on this.

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