Partner Relationship Management (PRM) isn’t dead – it's foundational
30 October 2023
Attending the Dreamforce and Ray Summit conferences provided valuable insights into the evolving AI ecosystem. The importance of partnerships and the developer community to driving customer value, innovation and adoption is key to the industry’s success.
I attended two AI conferences this Fall. The first was Salesforce’s Dreamforce, described as “the AI conference of the year,” held between 12 and 14 September. The second was Anyscale’s Ray Summit – “the LLM and generative AI conference for developers” – held from 18 to 20 September.
While these conferences differed in size and feel, I walked away with a clearer understanding of where the AI ecosystem is headed.
On the one hand, Dreamforce had 40,000 customers and partners and highlighted the importance of data and partners to powering AI strategy. Attendees got more familiar with Einstein, Salesforce’s new gen AI platform, and the company announced big data partnerships with Snowflake, Google, Databricks and AWS. It also announced deeper partnerships with GSIs, such as IBM Consulting, OSF Digital, Capgemini and McKinsey, to bring AI transformation and services to mutual customers.
Anyscale’s conference, on the other hand, was grassroots and focused on developers and building. Anyscale provides LLM and AI infrastructure that solves many challenges companies and developers face when deploying and managing gen AI today. Anyscale and Ray have an impressive list of customers, including Uber and AWS, and an equally impressive and enthusiastic developer community. During Ray Summit, Anyscale announced a partnership with Nvidia to bring together foundational hardware and software capabilities to enable developers to deploy AI models more efficiently.
While Salesforce and Anyscale have fundamentally different AI offerings and are at vastly different company stages, both depend on an AI ecosystem of developers, ISVs, experts and partners to deliver end-customer value and customized AI solutions at scale.
Being in person at these two conferences gave me a new perspective on AI’s evolving partner and developer ecosystem. Here are my top takeaways:
1) The AI partner ecosystem is vital to driving customer value and innovation
No technology vendor can do AI alone; instead, AI vendors depend on partnerships and the AI ecosystem of developers, ISVs and experts to deliver customer value at scale. This is leading to a dynamic partner ecosystem where software companies, hardware vendors, data providers, application developers, domain experts, systems integrators, academics, and AI and business transformation experts are working together to build end-to-end solutions for customers. This interdependence has also resulted in a surge of large-scale, strategic alliances across the AI stack. Noteworthy collaborations, such as Nvidia teaming up with Anyscale and Salesforce’s data partnerships with Databricks, AWS and Google, are not only becoming the norm but are imperative to capture market growth and drive value.
2) AI complexities present opportunities for the ecosystem
AI presents inherent complexities that lead to various adoption challenges. These adoption challenges offer new revenue opportunities for the broader AI ecosystem. From deployment hurdles, such as those addressed by Anyscale, to implementation, adoption and data-related obstacles, to ethical, regulatory, privacy and model concerns, the landscape is ripe for bespoke AI products and services tailored to specific requirements. Canalys predicts that GSIs, ISVs and software developers have the largest opportunity (within the partner ecosystem) to capitalize on AI over the next 18 months.
3) The AI community is a growing force that must be involved and empowered
The AI community is energetic, passionate, engaged and moving fast – very fast, helped by the open nature of the developer community. This community isn’t just innovating daily but also thinking deeply and academically about regulatory, privacy and copyright issues to ensure social responsibility remains at the forefront of what they deliver. Additionally, the AI ecosystem of partners and developers is not just contributors but hugely important to the future of AI and the deployment of personalized, disruptive solutions for industries, markets and companies. Winning in AI means recognizing, listening to, involving and empowering this dynamic community with tools, training, centers of excellence and ongoing education.
The insights gleaned from the Dreamforce and Ray Summit conferences illuminate the importance of the emerging AI ecosystem for driving real, transformative customer value with AI. Whether it’s the expansive partner network of Salesforce or the developer-centric approach of Anyscale, it’s evident that collaboration is imperative in the AI revolution. AI demands a tailored approach, blending deep domain expertise with innovative technology solutions. This necessitates partnerships, integrations and AI specialists and developers to guide the technology and innovate. Embracing this collaborative and open ethos and arming and enabling this ecosystem will be pivotal for any technology vendor or ecosystem partner wanting to win in AI.
To read the full report on the AI opportunity for the partner ecosystem, click here.