July 24, 2023 Damon Brown

Why Big AI Partnerships Are Happening Now

Companies big and small are integrating AI. Here's why.

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It’s not your imagination: The amount of A.I. business partnerships have skyrocketed lately. Despite news hype cycles, technology adoption traditionally takes a while. Not so with A.I.. Artificial intelligence became big buzzwords at the top of the year, but we can expect exponentially more announcements, and even integrations, by year’s end. If we go deeper, though, the important nuances aren’t in the partnerships happening, but in how they will be structured.

In the last few weeks, Roche diagnostics and pharmaceuticals confirmed 25 different A.I. partnerships through its new A.I.R. division, KPMG U.S. began interweaving Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service into audit, tax, and advisory services, and Adobe started expanding its partnership with IBM integrating generative A.I. art tools.

These moves show that artificial intelligence is here to stay and, more importantly, partnerships will be unilateral integrations going forward. Potential partners will not be in a specific, narrow niche within organizations, nor a limited experiment. 

It isn’t a feature. It is an integration. 

Artificial intelligence will be integrated in two ways: A la carte or synergistically. A great deal of this has to do with the size and resources of the organizations themselves. 

For resource-lean organizations, A.I. partnerships will be closer to the relationship they have with social media platforms or SaaS data management. We can expect them to pay little to no money to modify or customize their information and outreach. Even now, mainstream A.I. platforms are pushing multitier pricing – starting at free for limited use. The partnerships will happen, but in an ad hoc way.

For larger organizations, A.I. partnerships will be like a fractional middle-manager helping keep the greater system moving. This might seem obvious – of course A.I. will handle things that can be outsourced – but the underlying fear has been that A.I. will take over all business. This simply isn’t true. As we shared recently, modern A.I. is still struggling with common sense. Looking into the foreseeable future, strategic thinking, high-touch consumer needs, and other sensitive areas are strictly for humans – just as a manager wouldn’t have full reign over C-Suite level decisions.

It is clear that partnerships will become more of a strategic necessity for all organizations. The fact is that there will not be one A.I. winner. We can see a parallel to the last hot tech discussion just a year ago: The metaverse isn’t a thing, but rather “attention could shift to the development of ‘smaller metaverses’.” Each platform-building company – from Meta to Microsoft – will eventually focus and succeed in a particular vertical. In public-facing A.I., we already see the leaders carving their own path. The differentiation in goods, services, and niche will make them more appealing to the right organizations, and that, in turn, will make the A.I. companies double down in serving those particular partners.

And partnerships will ramp up exponentially by year’s end because of cost: Microsoft-funded ChatGPT reportedly burns several hundred thousand dollars to run every single day. Partnering with an A.I.-driven company is lucrative not just because of the new opportunities that could be made, but also because of the amount of money an organization can save by not doing it in-house.

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