Google Cloud partner ecosystem ramps up for generative AI

Companies such as 66degrees and Capgemini aim to build generative AI tools using Google's platforms, offering enterprise customers industry and process expertise.

The Google Cloud partner ecosystem is pushing into generative AI, with global systems integrators committing to training more than 150,000 people in the hyperscaler's technology.

Partners that have launched Google Cloud-specific generative AI practices, offerings or centers of excellence include 66degrees, Accenture, Capgemini, Cognizant, Deloitte, KPMG, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro among others. Partners contribute their industry experience, business process knowledge and data science background to the relationship. Google Cloud gives partners an early look at its emerging technologies as well as technical assistance.

Google Cloud's initiative tracks with recent moves from its cloud computing rivals. AWS cited partner collaboration in April when the company launched several generative AI products. Microsoft last month cited generative AI as a "massive partner opportunity" and the key to a total addressable market worth up to $6.5 trillion.

Ramping up for generative AI

Generative AI has attracted Google Cloud partners in a big way.

"Most of them, I would say, are investing in generative AI and Google technology in some format," said Jim Anderson, vice president of North American partner ecosystem and channels at Google Cloud. The ecosystem taps the technology to address challenges such as improving customer experience and optimizing supply chains, he noted.

Capgemini, a global business transformation company, plans to train some 65,000 employees on Google's generative AI technology. The company made its first step in that direction in June when it trained 10,000 people. That training session, which Capgemini dubbed "cloud week," involved not only the company's data and AI practice but also other groups such as custom applications and business process outsourcing, noted Geoffroy Pajot, chief technology and capability lead for Google Cloud at Capgemini.

That training session paved the way for a two-week generative AI hackathon. Pajot said 1,000 employees from more than 27 countries registered for the event, pursuing 250 use cases and generating 52 proofs of concept.

"It was a great experience to really speed up the innovation process," he added. "There is no doubt about the market momentum."

Matt Kestian, CEO at 66degrees, a Google Cloud premier partner based in Chicago, has also seen generative AI take off. The company cited ongoing engagements with several clients and has worked with Google to develop 35 pre-defined use cases that can be built out, via reusable architectures and frameworks, to meet industry-specific or client-specific needs. Additional use cases are forthcoming, he noted.

"Clients want to know how they can leverage [generative AI] within their businesses to drive results," Kestian said. "They need to understand how it works and how you design solutions based on these technologies."

Clients also need to work with the technology and test it, he said. 66degrees has rolled out a set of services that aim to take customers from brainstormed ideas to a working system. The company offers generative AI workshops to help clients define use cases, architecture and design sessions; a proof-of-concept process using Google's generative AI products; and bespoke services that move a selected use case into production. The company provides those offerings separately or combines them as needed, Kestian said.

Generative AI for the enterprise

Generative AI offerings such as Google Bard and OpenAI's ChatGPT have quickly amassed millions of users. Such natural language-based tools are horizontal in nature, letting consumers and businesses perform a variety of content creation tasks. But enterprise use of generative AI, beyond drafting emails and other routine chores, will require offerings that meet more sophisticated business requirements.

That's where partners expect to play a role and where they see Google offering an advantage.

Kestian said Google's generative AI technology is geared to enterprise customers.

"It's not about creating a new document or an email," he said. "It's about creating different business processes and different ways to interact with the customer."

Graphic showing business benefits of generative AI
Google taps its partner ecosystem to deliver the business value of generative AI.

Partner ecosystem lends industry skills

Those processes and interactions are often industry specific. Partners offer the ability to verticalize generative AI technologies.

Kestian cited the example of developing a digital concierge tool for a client in the hospitality industry. The tool uses Google's Vertex AI managed ML platform and the company's Contact Center AI platform. Kestian said the digital concierge also taps the client's knowledge bases that its customer support team uses to answer questions.

Partners bring these different pieces together. We can build pretty much anything we can imagine.
Matt KestianCEO at 66degrees

This generative AI deployment model looks set to continue. Google's AI offerings provide Lego-like building blocks that can be assembled with external data sources and custom code.

"Partners bring these different pieces together," Kestian said. "We can build pretty much anything we can imagine."

Kestian said he also sees a role for Google technology in industries such as manufacturing and retail.

Capgemini, meanwhile, is aligning its generative AI work with industries such as retail, financial services, telecommunications and automotive, Pajot noted, adding that the company's efforts aren't exclusive to those sectors.

Google lends a hand

Google aims to support partners in various ways, with the goal of accelerating customers' AI adoption. Technology previews are one effort. Pajot emphasized the importance of getting access to platforms before they are generally available.

"Staying really well connected to see what's coming next is absolutely key," he noted.

IT service providers build their businesses on advising customers on emerging technologies and identifying the most promising ones for potential deployment. The "acceleration of creation" and the continuous rollout of new features keeps an integrator on its toes, Pajot said.

"It's a very vibrant market," he noted. "That, to me, is the main challenge we are facing."

Kestian also cited Google's early adopter program and the ability to get information on technologies prior to their release. Access to technical expertise when creating AI offerings is another plus. He said Google's partner engineers review designs to make sure they meet best practices.

Pajot also pointed to engineering connections as a benefit of working with Google. Resident architects provide hands-on support, helping Capgemini execute proofs of concept, he said.

Pajot, previously Capgemini's point person for its Microsoft alliance, described Google as nimble, more decentralized and eager to work with the partner ecosystem. He called Microsoft's multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI a "wake up call" for Google -- one that encourages collaboration.

"It's the right time and the right place to be partnering with Google," he said.

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