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Enhancing Your Channel Business with AI and ML

artificial intelligence - robot thinking

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are massive buzzwords in the channel.

But how many channel partners really know what they mean, and how they can help their businesses? AI means machines can execute tasks smartly, while ML means machines can learn and adapt through experience.

But there’s more to it than that. And Harbinder Khera, founder and CEO of Mindmatrix, has a lot of knowledge to share on this topic.

During his Channel Partners Virtual session, titled, “Build Your Channel Ecosystem with AI and ML,” March 4, Khera will share his insight in a practical discussion on how AI and ML are being used today to create a better understanding of your partner ecosystem.

Mindmatrix's Harbinder KheraIn a Q&A with Channel Partners, Khera gives a sneak peek of what he plans to share with attendees.

Channel Partners: How are channel businesses that haven't incorporated AI and ML missing out?

Harbinder Khera: There are pretty distinct applications where AI and ML could be incorporated to see huge gains. The first one is partner recruiting. As part of our recruiting process, AI and ML technology actually gives you an insight into your prospective partner ecosystem about who they are, what they do, what product they sell, who they sell to, what geographies they serve, etc. You can get a pretty decent sense and use that insight for partner recruiting, and you can be really laser-focused in your messaging.

Driving partner engagement is second. And third is partner enablement, personalization and collaboration from chatbots. A lot of partners have been co-selling and can interact with the technical folks or channel managers. And so these are different areas where the AI/ML is utilized. And if companies are not looking into this, they're going to miss out.

CP: Do AI and ML provide competitive advantages? If so, how?

HK: Absolutely. One of the important things to think about is there's so much data out there. There are over 1 million partners and resellers, MSPs and integrators out there in this space. And each of these partners is generating thousands and millions of data points. So it’s understanding data, and figuring out who is the right partner and who’s not. What kind of content do you need to provide and what does the enablement look like depending on the partner types and personas? This really helps a vendor create or develop a channel-friendly program.

A channel-friendly program comes down to you really understanding your partner, personalizing the experience for your partner so when you're communicating to them, it’s one to one, not one to many. That definitely gives you a competitive advantage now because you can decipher and look at the data. It helps you build a channel-friendly program and helps you laser-focus on partner recruiting.

CP: What are some of the dos and don'ts of adopting AI and ML?

HK: People don’t understand the difference between AI and ML. The ML part is understanding something that helps you understand the data. ML technology gives you insight into what is happening. AI technology helps you look at the data and take actions based on that data as humans would do.

So the first important aspect is what do you want to try and accomplish. What is the end goal? Picking the right model to match your business objective is very important. There are so many different techniques available and matching the technique for your business needs is an important aspect.

In any system, as a human being or anybody, it’s garbage in, garbage out. If you feed somebody wrong information, then the wrong information is going to come out of that person. So it really comes down to teaching the system and creating a proper algorithm. Understanding data is the most important element because that actually helps you teach the system well. So my recommendation is picking the right model … and somebody who understands the data. Teaching the system correctly is the key to success in a proper AI/ML application rollout.

CP: How have AI and ML improved your business processes? What sorts of insights have you gained from these technologies?

HK: At Mindmatrix, we are in the partner enablement software business. We provide a platform to help companies enable partners and create a partner-friendly program. We enable our clients to do partner recruiting, and we’re automating that process, providing the insight. The other area is we're using AI in content recommendation. So we have sales teams and we enable our partners as well. What is the right content to utilize, and if the content is going to be effective or not. We use AI in driving partner engagement. Also, we use AI internally to drive engagement of our customers and our sales reps with the platform, personalizing that experience. So we are in that business. We are using AI internally for our own teams, but more importantly, we're bringing AI and ML to our customers.

CP: What do you hope attendees learn and can make use of from your session?

HK: I want to spend some time educating people on what is AI and what is ML, understanding the differences, the nuances, so helping people understand what they hear all the time and then applying this technology, and why we have to do this. Why there's a need to implement something like this in the channel space and how it can help companies who are vendors who enable partners in recruiting, enablement and driving partner engagement. In the end, all the results are increasing our bottom-line sales. It is going to be a key channel technology going forward in 2021 and beyond. So it’s good for people to get a pretty good sense of what is out there.

Channel Partners Virtual, machine learning, artificial intelligence