Enterprise generative AI is an ecosystem play, TBR analysts say

The market for generative AI solutions for corporate enterprises is an ecosystem play in which no major technology vendor will be able to deliver everything on their own, and having strong partners is imperative, according to Technology Business Research (TBR) analysts who spoke on the topic during a recent webinar.

“No company can bring end to end services around that technology,” said Patrick Heffernan, principal analyst and practice leader at TBR. “Everybody, every single company in the technology space that's trying to provide Gen AI as part of their solution or as part of their services is going to rely on a partner ecosystem.”

That is what TBR has heard from both buyers and sellers of solutions based on technology that much of the market was barely aware of a year ago at this time. Because generative AI is still new to the enterprise market, vendors of generative AI solutions need embrace the partnership model with a strong understanding of “what your partners bring to your client, being able to articulate why your clients should be working not just with you, but with your partners,” Heffernan said.

These comments were made during the TBR webinar, “Navigating GenAI Opportunities and Challenges in Digital Transformation in 2024,” and both Heffernan and Boz Hristov, principal analyst at TBR, said the developing enterprise market for generative AI has some things in common with the broader enterprise market for digital transformation solutions.. 

“With digital transformation, a lot of the focus initially and the investment started with the customer experience side in B2C industries [and in generative AI] that's where we see some of the earlier use cases and proof points on the vendor side as well as the buyer side,” Hristov said.

Heffernan added that in the early days of the digital transformation market, “if you had a cool technology that was great, but if you couldn't understand what your client's actual needs were or their actual budget, you weren't gonna get anywhere.”

In addition, providers of generative AI solutions also need to understand that horizontally one enterprise department may differ from the same department in another enterprise, meaning there are no “one size fits all” solutions. “Every company has a marketing department, but that doesn't mean that your gen AI solution for one marketing department is necessarily going to be useful to every single marketing organization across every single company,” Heffernan said. “It gets back to if you want your users to scale what they are starting to do with GenAI, you actually have to know what your client's specific needs are and know what their budget is.”

Regarding regulation of generative AI, Heffernan said regulators can learn lessons from the early digital transformation market, when rules around data privacy were fragmented, confusing, and weakly constructed. While the generative AI market has ramped up very quickly, so too have discussions about how generative AI should be regulated, and technology sellers and buyers will both need to pay close attention as regulations develop.