WWT Investing $500M in AI Practice

The systems integrator is building practices and capacity ahead of revenue in anticipation of accelerated demand for artificial intelligence.

By Larry Walsh

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are evolving at a rapid pace. Analysts and advocates believe that AI and its related technologies will significantly transform markets and channels within the next 12 to 18 months. In the next five years, it’s projected that up to 25 million jobs will be displaced, with AI modifying 90% of all jobs.

However, the full integration of AI, machine learning, and other advanced systems into the market is expected to take years. While AI holds immense potential for enhancing operational efficiency in numerous organizational and workplace tasks, the majority of companies, ranging from large enterprises to SMBs, lack the foundational infrastructure, organization, and talent to fully leverage this technology.

World Wide Technology, commonly known as WWT, acknowledges both the future opportunities and current limitations in the AI sector. The company is investing $500 million over the next three years to strengthen its AI capabilities and develop a comprehensive value proposition in anticipation of growing customer demand for guidance, products, and services in this field.

WWT, an integrator with more than $20 billion in annual revenue, currently has a data management practice, but it’s still in the process of developing practical AI applications in specific industries and customer scenarios. WWT Chief Technology Officer Mike Taylor likens the development of the company’s AI practice to that experienced with previous technological advancements, such as cloud computing. He emphasizes that effectively addressing AI opportunities involves understanding the technology, creating practical applications, and developing supportive services.

WWT is focusing on four key areas in its AI development:

  • AI labs development: Building a dedicated team and infrastructure to develop and test AI use cases applicable to various industries and customer needs
  • AI tools development: Utilizing existing intellectual property to create and refine AI tools that will enhance other technology deployments
  • Talent acquisition and development: Recruiting individuals skilled in AI and training current staff, preparing for the anticipated demand for future AI products and services
  • Brand development: Investing in marketing and promotions to raise awareness of its evolving AI capabilities, both internally and externally

Initial use cases include developing large language model (LLM) tools and bots to enhance customer support and experiences. Beyond this, WWT sees significant potential in using machine learning to automate routine processes, reduce errors, enhance process quality, and enable staff to focus on more complex, high-touch tasks.

Additional Resources

An important first step is assisting customers with both project execution and change management processes. Taylor notes that many companies will require assistance in organizing their data and intellectual property for effective AI utilization, presenting opportunities for professional services in data hygiene and system development.

WWT views AI not as a replacement for existing technologies but as an enhancer, creating opportunities to upgrade legacy systems, particularly in data centers and infrastructure. Businesses will likely need to invest in AI-compatible hardware, networking, and storage to fully exploit AI systems.

According to IDC, AI spending is expected to exceed $150 billion in the next three years, with a significant portion allocated to upgrading underlying infrastructure and integrating with both legacy and new systems. This spending pattern may mirror that of the Internet of Things, where a considerable portion was dedicated to upgrading legacy infrastructure and professional services.

Taylor foresees substantial opportunities for WWT and other channel partners in the future AI-driven market. However, this opportunity is not imminent; it may take three or more years before the market can fully capitalize on AI. WWT’s current investments are strategic preparations for this upcoming wave of AI-related spending.

Larry Walsh is the CEO, chief analyst, and founder of Channelnomics. He’s an expert on the development and execution of channel programs, disruptive sales models, and growth strategies for companies worldwide. Follow him on Twitter at @lmwalsh_CN.

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