By Charles King, Pund-IT®
The tech industry is well known for creating innovative new business solutions. However, just as important is the work vendors do to make those offerings practical and usable for enterprise clients. That is especially important when it comes to highly technical projects, such as applying artificial intelligence (AI) tools mainstream and in emerging business use cases. Without such efforts, even the most promising new developments can languish and fail.
Lenovo’s new AI Innovators program is a notable example of how one vendor is approaching this process and delivering practical new solutions with the help of strategic partners.
Lenovo’s AI progress
Lenovo is hardly a newcomer when it comes to AI solutions and services. In 2017, the company announced that it would invest $1.2B in R&D and initiatives, and the company’s Data Center Group (now the Infrastructure Solutions Group or ISG) opened three Lenovo AI innovation centers in Morrisville, North Carolina; Stuttgart, Germany and Beijing, China. The company also pursued efforts with universities and specialty ISVs to develop commercial AI offerings.
In 2019, the company announced a strategic partnership with Intel to advance AI and HPC. Last fall, Lenovo announced new AI offerings, including the GPU-enabled ThinkEdge SE450, and a partnership with VMware to integrate its new edge computing solution in Lenovo servers.
These offerings add to the substantial portfolio of Lenovo solutions that customers can use to develop and deliver AI services and offerings. In other words, the new AI Innovators program rests on a solid foundation that Lenovo built with its own homegrown technologies and the valuable contributions of strategic partners.
Lenovo’s AI Innovators program
So what is this newest Lenovo AI-focused effort? The AI Innovators program is designed to help the company’s independent software vendor (ISV) partners and their customers bring AI solutions from the lab to scale. These include both industry-centric applications for finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and smart cities, and vertical use cases, such as autonomous shopping, clinical decision support and predictive maintenance.
As Scott Tease, VP and GM of Lenovo ISG’s HPC and AI noted, “Lenovo’s AI Innovators partner ecosystem helps customers easily deploy AI with confidence (and) simplify implementation across a variety of infrastructures … so they can gain actionable decisions.”
Lenovo’s AI ecosystem incorporates the company’s broad hardware portfolio from pocket-to-cloud-to-HPC, crossing into middleware, MLops, certified AI platforms and AI vertical applications, as well as bespoke AI services. The program also leverages industry-leading open-source tools, such as Intel’s Open Vino and One API.
Lenovo noted that over 30 ISVs partners are involved in the AI Innovators program. Those include:
- Sunlight is developing edge-centric solutions based on the Lenovo ThinkEdge SE350 for manufacturing robots, oil platforms, retail stores to help clients gain insights and make actionable decisions.
- ai works with clients to gain insights into how people behave in physical spaces, like commercial real estate, retail locations and office environments to reduce costs and drive growth.
- Smartia is helping customers parse masses of operational industrial data to generate actionable insights for speeding strategic business decisions.
- WaitTime offers AI-enhanced crowd intelligence solutions that use real-time data and historical analytics to analyze crowd behavior, making spaces like conference centers, malls and sports stadiums safer and more efficient.
What can we conclude from Lenovo’s new AI Innovators program? First, that the program exemplifies the company’s dedication to developing and delivering commercial AI solutions and services. Additionally, the program reflects Lenovo’s longstanding practice of extending its own solutions via the innovations of strategic partners.
This latest effort includes substantial contributions from Intel, as well as assistance from VMware, NVIDIA and other partners. However, ISVs, many of them smaller companies or startups, significantly enhance Lenovo’s ability to pursue granular opportunities in specific industries and vertical use cases.
Perhaps most importantly, Lenovo’s AI Innovators program highlights how vendors can successfully pursue and deliver practical new solutions derived from highly complex technologies. Left to their own, it would be difficult, at best, for many or most organizations to leverage artificial intelligence on their own. With Lenovo’s help and investments, and the assistance of key ISVs, practical commercial AI solutions are becoming a reality.
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