The Race to AI Implementation: 2024 and Beyond
AI can improve performance and productivity, but choosing the right hardware vendor to support your AI is critical. Here’s what you must consider.
- By Rob Enderle
- January 31, 2024
As I write this, I’m at AMD’s launch of its latest AI accelerators for both servers and desktops. Although AMD is clearly attempting to break NVIDIA’s dominance, as is Intel, Qualcomm is also in the race. Its dominant position on smartphones and the rise of smartphones to eclipse PCs in terms of volume and customer engagement makes it a company to watch. This all means that in 2024 there will be a massive acceleration in hardware-focused AI development and a level of disruption we haven’t seen since the smartphone first came to market.
This acceleration will likely be most pronounced with vendors that are using AI to advance their development efforts. It is there you should focus if you want an early indicator of which vendors are likely to be most successful and most likely to survive this wave. Recall that Wharton studies have indicated that up to an 80% productivity gain is possible with older AI technology depending on use, user acceptance, and training. The newer technology out this year, such as ChatGPT 5, is likely to provide performance multipliers. Firms that build but don’t aggressively use AI products could fall behind quickly.
This cautionary tale also applies to companies that just use this technology because productivity gains like this are happening as quickly as AI is advancing. This acceleration is unprecedented in the market, with applicability to virtually every vertical. Companies that can and do ramp up rapidly should start materially outperforming those that do not within months, and it is increasingly doubtful that any part of every company won’t be impacted in some way by the coming changes.
The biggest problem is that the competitive and product landscape will be undergoing massive flux, so picking a strategic solution will be increasingly difficult. Younger companies that are less likely to be able to handle the speed of these advancements should focus on openness so that if they fail, someone else can pick up support, interoperability, and compatibility. If you aren’t locked into a single vendor’s solution and can mix and match as needed, you can move on or off a platform based on your needs.
Like any new technology, take advice about hardware selection from the platform supplier. This means that if you are using ChatGPT, you want to ask OpenAI for advice about new hardware. If you are working with Microsoft or Google or any other AI developer, ask them what hardware they would recommend.
Favor vendors with solutions targeted at the vertical markets within your scope. Most of the solutions I’ve seen are one-size-fits-all, but that rarely works once a market matures because the needs of different industries vary widely. You need a vendor that embraces all the client platforms for hybrid AI (including smartphones) and one with a diverse, targeted solution set that individually focuses on the markets your firm is in. Right now, only Lenovo seems to have all the parts necessary thanks to its acquisition of Motorola.
One of the areas that is currently under-supported by most is networking, which is critical to these ever-larger AI solutions because latency can seriously damage their effectiveness. Few firms have this extra capability and none of the vendors I talk to cover every aspect of the potential solution. However, at this AMD event, Arista (part of HPE), Broadcom, and Cisco are on stage, suggesting all three companies are on top of this extra requirement.
AI is coming very rapidly. Lisa Su, AMD’s CEO, indicated that they have changed their forecast for AI growth from 50% year-over-year to more than 70%. I think that is very conservative given how many companies are working on this and how good ChatGPT 4 is.
One of the most interesting comments about AI was made by Jensen Huang a few days ago. He said artificial general intelligence was going to arrive within 5 years. Given NVIDIA’s position in the market, I think his prediction is likely. AGI will be an even bigger game-changer than generative AI has been, suggesting AI disruption is only going to become more pronounced.
If you base your vendor selection on the diversity of their offerings, the strength of their partnership, their ability to cover the needed platforms, and their trustworthiness (they do what they say they’ll do), while ensuring your ability to change vendors if needed, you should be able to ride this AI wave rather than be drowned by it.
As the AMD announcements and presentations ended, I was left wondering how long it would be until AI was onstage doing much of the presentation itself. Given AMD’s event and Jensen’s prediction, I expect I won’t have long to wait.
Rob Enderle is the president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, where he provides regional and global companies with guidance on how to create a credible dialogue with the market, target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero-dollar marketing. You can reach the author via email.