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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.
Anurag Agrawal

Unveiling the Future of AI: IBM's Unwavering Commitment to Innovation and Collaboration

Enterprises are grappling with AI's transformative power, a technology poised to automate and elevate both creative and analytical tasks. Despite its early stages, AI adoption holds immense growth potential. Recognizing this, IBM took center stage at Think 2024, showcasing its unwavering commitment to AI innovation.

IBM's leadership in driving enterprise AI is evident through its three key pillars: open-source initiatives, which democratize AI and make it more accessible; leveraging the combined expertise of its consulting arm and ecosystem partners, which ensures the highest quality of AI solutions; and significant updates to the watsonx platform, which enhance the performance and capabilities of AI. These updates are about technological advancements and making AI more accessible and impactful for businesses worldwide. By prioritizing openness, affordability, and flexibility, IBM is breaking down barriers and paving the way for widespread AI adoption.

Open-Source Innovations and InstructLab

AI, a field deeply rooted in open collaboration, has been shaped by a tradition that dates back to its inception. Consider Alan Turing's groundbreaking 1950s paper, 'Computing Machinery and Intelligence,' which introduced the world to AI. This vision turned into reality thanks to the open sharing of work by countless researchers worldwide, laying the foundation for the AI we know today. IBM, a torchbearer of this tradition, continues to place open-source innovation at the core of its latest AI initiatives, inviting users and businesses to be part of this rich and impactful tradition.

IBM has unveiled a family of Granite models, a significant addition to the open-source AI ecosystem. These models, with parameter counts ranging from 3 billion to 34 billion, have been trained in 116 programming languages. They are available in base and instruction-following variants, offering a wide range of applications from complex modernization to bug fixing. These models represent some of IBM's most advanced language and code capabilities and are available under Apache 2.0 licenses on collaborative platforms such as HuggingFace and GitHub. This exciting development opens up a world of possibilities.

IBM's approach to AI development sets it apart from other major companies. While many have chosen to release pre-trained models, withholding the datasets used for training, IBM has taken a different path. It has offered open-source models, democratizing AI development and inviting clients, developers, and experts worldwide to explore new AI advancements in enterprise settings. This unique strategy, coupled with IBM's commitment to quality and efficiency, ensures that these models consistently generate high-quality code superior to many alternative large language models (LLMs) and excel at various code-related tasks, surpassing larger open-source counterparts.

“We firmly believe in bringing open innovation to AI. We want to use the power of open source to do with AI what was successfully done with Linux and OpenShift,” IBM CEO Arvind Krishna at IBM’s Annual Think Conference.

ibm think2024

To further its commitment to open-source AI, IBM has announced InstructLab, an open-source project designed to address challenges in fine-tuning LLMs for specialized tasks. This project focuses on scalability by efficiently handling large volumes of data for model training and specialization by tailoring models to specific industry needs.

Anurag Agrawal

AI PCs Poised for Takeoff in SMB and Midmarket Segments, But Snapdragon Faces Hurdles

A new type of computer is gaining traction: the Artificial Intelligence-powered PC, or AI PC for short.  At Microsoft Build 2024, Microsoft and its leading PC partners, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, unveiled a new class of laptops, Copilot+ PCs, explicitly built for artificial intelligence (AI).  These laptops are powered by powerful Snapdragon® X Plus processors, exceeding 40 trillion operations per second (TOPS), and deliver long-lasting battery life and access to cutting-edge AI models. 

The personal computer market is undergoing a significant shift, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and upper midmarket companies are paying close attention.  A recent study by Techaisle, covering 1410 SMBs and Midmarket firms in the US, suggests a potential surge in demand for these innovative machines within these business sectors. 

High Awareness Paves the Way for Adoption

The study reveals a high level of awareness and purchase intention among SMBs and midmarket firms, painting a promising picture of the market potential of AI PCs. A significant 77% of SMBs and an impressive 86% of upper midmarket firms are already familiar with AI PCs, demonstrating a high level of awareness and understanding of the potential benefits of AI technology for their productivity and operations. This awareness is not just passive, as the study reveals that a substantial 32% of SMBs and a much higher 64% of midmarket firms are actively planning to purchase AI PCs, indicating a strong market potential and the confidence these businesses have in the technology. This robust purchase intention signals a significant market shift and underscores the potential for widespread adoption in the near future. Moreover, 40% of SMBs are considering evaluating AI PCs before making a purchase decision, hinting at the possibility of even broader adoption in the coming years.

AI PCs are projected to dent the PC market within 3-5 years substantially. SMBs, known for their agility in responding to market trends, will likely mirror this trend. With 54% of SMBs planning to invest in new PCs in the next 12 months, AI PCs could become a decisive factor in purchasing decisions.

The study also uncovers some intriguing insights into SMB priorities. While 14% of SMBs view AI PCs as a crucial upgrade, and another 12% are considering a strategic shift towards them, a substantial portion (24%) see no compelling reason to adopt this new technology. However, 58% of SMBs report that their employees are actively requesting AI PCs. This highlights a potential disparity between management and employees regarding the perceived benefits of AI technology, suggesting the need for better communication and alignment.

The study identifies potential early adopters of AI PCs within the employee base. These are the content creators, tech-savvy departments, and executives in corner offices. Creative and design professionals top the list (45%), followed by IT development (27%) and sales and marketing teams (26%). These departments will likely benefit most from AI PCs' enhanced processing power and AI-powered features.

Copilot Gains Traction, But Snapdragon Faces Recognition Hurdle

The Techaisle study delves deeper, exploring the potential for Copilot, a new software solution designed to unlock the true power of AI PCs. Awareness is high, with over half (54%) of SMBs and a staggering majority (89%) of upper midmarket firms recognizing the name.  Despite its recent launch, nearly half of these businesses already know about Copilot+ PCs.

However, adoption intent dips regarding Copilot+ PCs powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors. This hesitation stems from a few key factors. Limited brand awareness compared to the established giant Intel is a significant hurdle. Concerns about compatibility with existing applications and potential issues with peripherals further dampen enthusiasm. Many SMBs are adopting a wait-and-see approach, holding out for the announcement of Intel-based Copilot+ PCs, hoping these systems will offer similar features and impressive battery life.

Despite the growing hype around AI PCs, the study reveals some interesting realities regarding PC selection criteria for SMBs. While GPU/NPU might be a consideration, it does not reign supreme. For SMBs, the top five priorities when choosing a PC remain long battery life, a processor with built-in security features, ample storage capacity, a high-resolution display, and biometric login options.

Anurag Agrawal

The $90 Billion Defense: Cybersecurity Investments of SMBs and Midmarket Firms in 2024

The cybersecurity landscape is undergoing a significant shift, driven by a surge in spending across all business segments. According to Techaisle SMB and Midmarket Security Adoption Trends research, the combined IT security spending (excluding managed security services) for global SMBs and Midmarket companies is projected to reach a staggering US$90 billion in 2024, reflecting a healthy 9.4% increase from 2023. This data paints a clear picture: businesses of all sizes are prioritizing cybersecurity and investing heavily in defense mechanisms.

Interestingly, the growth in spending is not uniform across the board. The most significant increases are anticipated from high-growth, highly innovative companies. A striking 21% of high-growth SMBs and 26% of high-growth midmarket firms are expected to bolster their IT security budgets by at least 15% in 2024. These figures underscore these companies' unique challenges and the need for tailored cybersecurity strategies. Very innovative businesses are also demonstrating a strong commitment to security, with 18% of SMBs and 21% of midmarket companies in this category planning to increase their spending by 12% compared to the previous year.

At the core of an SMB's resilience lies cyber resilience, the nexus that links cybersecurity, business continuity, and overall preparedness. It's not just about defense; it's about bouncing back from any crisis, whether a cyberattack, natural disaster, or economic downturn. Cyber resilience ensures operations continue smoothly even in turbulent times by encompassing prevention, response, and recovery. This comprehensive approach not only ensures business continuity and protects sensitive data but also plays a pivotal role in fostering customer trust. Techaisle survey data reveals that 35% of SMBs and 46% of upper midmarket firms view the shift from cybersecurity to cyber resiliency as not just important but crucial.

Anurag Agrawal

Global Reach, Streamlined Sales: IBM Expands Software Sales on AWS Marketplace

Over the past four years, the IBM-AWS partnership has evolved into a unique success story. Unlike many other collaborations, this partnership is a complete 360-degree relationship, encompassing a wide range of collaborations. These two tech giants have achieved remarkable milestones in a relatively short timeframe. IBM Consulting, for instance, boasts an impressive number of AWS certifications (over 23,000) and competencies (19). They are also working together on the cutting-edge field of Generative AI (Gen AI). The partnership has fueled significant growth in adopting Red Hat Open Shift on AWS (ROSA), a native service within the AWS console, proving instrumental in IBM's hybrid cloud strategy. This strategy prioritizes co-existence between cloud and mainframe environments. The focus on collaboration extends to mainframe application modernization, where IBM and AWS have developed valuable patterns that showcase the combined power of these technologies. Additionally, a clear roadmap has been established for watsonx on AWS, with integrations underway with SageMaker, Bedrock, and other AWS products to accelerate Gen AI development and generate a wealth of practical use cases.

The partnership extends beyond just collaboration on specific technologies. IBM software is experiencing a surge in popularity on the AWS platform, with 29 products now available as-a-service offerings. This is part of a larger picture that includes 29 IBM software products and 44 transactable marketplace listings on AWS. The resell model for these offerings has also seen expansion, now encompassing five countries: the US, France, Germany, Denmark, and the UK. Furthermore, a two-tiered distribution model has been established in these countries with industry leaders like Ingram Micro, TD Synnex, and Arrow, further strengthening the reach of these combined solutions. Notably, a significant portion of IBM's partners are already established AWS partners. These partners recognize the value proposition of adding IBM solutions to their offerings, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved – IBM, AWS, and their partners, who can now deliver even more comprehensive solutions to their customers.

In the latest move, IBM and AWS have announced a strategic partnership that promises to reshape the landscape of AI and data technology. This alliance will provide partners and clients unprecedented access to advanced technologies, opening up new avenues for growth and innovation. The collaboration between these two tech giants means clients will now have enhanced access to IBM's robust AI and data platforms through AWS's expansive marketplace. This integration allows for the seamless adoption of sophisticated tools to drive business transformation. With IBM's technology becoming available on AWS, the marketplace is poised to expand significantly. Partners can leverage this opportunity to offer a broader range of services and solutions, catering to the diverse needs of businesses across various industries. The synergy between IBM's AI and data expertise and AWS's cloud infrastructure is expected to deliver enhanced business value. Clients can expect more efficient operations, improved customer experiences, and the ability to tap into new markets, thanks to the comprehensive solutions provided by this partnership.

The IBM-AWS partnership is more than just a collaboration; it's a fusion of strengths that will empower partners and clients. As the partnership evolves, we can anticipate a wave of innovation that will lead the way in AI and data technology, ultimately benefiting businesses around the globe.

Research You Can Rely On | Analysis You Can Act Upon

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