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A recent report by Tech Research Asia into attitudes towards AI across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand has found that there is a big opportunity for MSPs to engage with their customers strategically, as seven in ten enterprises are going to lean on their partners to assist them.

The breadth with which enterprises are interested in AI is total. Organizations are looking to AI to solve operational challenges, leverage generative AI to support content and marketing, and AI-supported analytics to enhance decision-making. However, as Tech Research Asia Director and Principal Analyst, Michael Barnes, told Channel Insider, converting those AI ambitions into projects that deliver a clear line of value is proving to be challenging.

“When there’s no clear agreement on value, communication is key. As with digital transformation initiatives before them, the less clear the outcomes of an AI project, the harder it will be to measure ‘success’, and the more likely that project will be perceived to be a failure,” Barnes said.

As Barnes noted, it will be down to the partners to build strategic plans around AU and help their customers determine and articulate success. TRA’s research shows that seven in ten businesses will be seeking partner help with AI.

“The good news for partners is that AI drives demand for many of their existing services. For instance, scaling AI initiatives beyond proof of concepts (PoCs) will fuel IT modernisation; and improvements in network, platform, security, and data,” Barnes said.

 Where partners are needed most

TRA’s research also highlights the areas where the skills shortage sweeping the region will particularly challenge enterprises in adopting AI. Partners stand to benefit the greatest if they can fill the gaps in these three areas, according to Barnes:

  1. Ideation: AI value is driven by clear business use cases and context, partners can help firms identify both incremental and transformational value opportunities.
  2. Help implementing or building AI solutions: To successfully scale AI initiatives, firms need to help from partners to address network, platform, security, and data improvements.
  3. Ongoing services to manage AI solutions: The two most common AI usage scenarios for Australian organizations are using off-the-shelf AI solutions trained for their specific needs and using AI solutions embedded into business applications.

“TRA advises channel partners to ramp up their AI capabilities ASAP,” Barnes said. “Not as an independent AI team or dedicated service, but instead as an extension of existing capabilities or teams. In other words, partners should match their AI capabilities and expertise with an understanding of their customers’ existing business needs, opportunities and challenges.”

For Australian MSPs, this opportunity is just getting started, Barnes also noted. Currently, there is often a “softly-softly” attitude towards AI, but as organizations start to leverage it in full, they are going to need assistance with change management, employee and customer education, organizational reform, risk mitigation, legal and societal implications, and more. These will all be opportunities for deeper engagement with channel partners.