It’s an AI Haven, My Dear Watson | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By releasing Haven-on-Demand APIs on Microsoft Azure, HPE is following in the footsteps of IBM. Big Blue made its Watson API’s available on BlueMix a while ago. Furthermore, it recently announced a collaboration with Twilio, a cloud communications platform for developers, as part of which it introduced two new offerings: IBM Watson Message Sentiment and IBM Watson Message Insights, pre-integrated with Twilio’s APIs. This signaled IBM’s willingness to make Watson APIs accessible to a wider community of developers, beyond BlueMix. This is also what HPE is doing by making Haven-on-Demand available on Microsoft Azure.

The two technology giants are not alone in releasing their artificial intelligence APIs. Other technology vendors such as Google have done the same. The IBM and HPE differentiator (for HPE for now and until the details of the CSC deal are finalized) is that they are also IT and business process service providers.  They can leverage their own intelligent technologies to transform client’s services.

The world of services is also changing fast thanks to technology, including automation enabled by both dumb and intelligent software. In particular, in recent years we have seen service providers invest in intelligent technologies to automate their offerings. Apart from IBM and HPE, others include (in alphabetical order) Cognizant Intelligent Automation Platform, Infosys Mana, TCS Ignio and Wipro Holmes. Like it or not, the human intelligence component of IT and business process service provisioning is giving way to machine intelligence, but this is a discussion for another blog.

In the world of services, too, IBM and HPE have a differentiator and that is they are well known technology providers. The other service providers are simply not known for this. They might enter the market for selling intelligent technologies (and in fact some are) but it will be a while before they can grow this line of business. In the meantime IBM and HPE are building a presence in the third-party software apps world. By having their technology embedded in many third-party applications, the tech giants are betting on creating their very own de facto standards for intelligent software to boost future tech and services revenues. Owning an industry standard would make it easier for IBM or HPE to integrate their offerings to automate services in the future and there will be other advantages such as faster adoption and client on-boarding and transitioning.

Their open APIs give IBM and HPE an advantage over both technology and services competitors. Although that’s the current situation, given the rapidly changing technology market, a disruptor could emerge anytime and change this pretty picture. The challenge for IBM and HPE is to increase the number of fully fledged third-party applications that use their API to make it tougher for a disruptor to shake up this burgeoning market.

As far as the technology part of the market goes, of course, IBM and HPE are in competition with the likes of Microsoft and Google who are extremely well versed in the art of getting wide and global adoption of their technologies.

HPE faces another challenge, and that is not to lose focus on this line of business while the spin off and merger of its Enterprise Services with CSC goes through.

Time and again history has shown that wide adoption and availability of applications can boost sales of underlying or enabling technologies, e.g. Microsoft Windows and Android to name but a few. IBM and HPE are looking to do the same in the more complex world of artificial intelligence. This is an area that promises much growth in the coming years, and we will be watching it with interest.

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