Technology Reseller v72

01732 759725 32 AI PCs Technology Reseller (TR): The four pillars of Destination AI suggest that AI will require a more joined up approach from partners. Is that how you see it? Brandon Lieberthal (BL): I think that’s spot on. Looking at it purely from one piece of the puzzle, which sits within my area of responsibility, the emergence of AI PCs will revolutionise the role of the channel. Why will it revolutionise it? Because you're altering the value proposition of the channel. Whether you're a value-added reseller or focus purely on software, AI is all about the solution. You can buy the fastest PC with the highest TOPS count (trillions of operations per second), but until you have an AI app to go with it, it’s just like the PCs we sold before. The value proposition both for vendors and resellers is going to change. No longer will you just be a vendor of hardware devices or a channel partner that has stock for next-day delivery at a good price, with a bit of technical support. You are going to need a more consultative mindset and use hardware devices to create a final product that delivers a solution enabled by AI. The challenge for the channel will be developing the right skill set. If your value prop is to help your customers with AI trainings, you will need to make sure you have your own resource. As we saw with cybersecurity three or four years ago, there will be skill set shortages in the channel, and with the greater focus on services and solutions, there will need to be more training for sales reps and technical reps. The benefit for the channel and for vendors will be an increase in margins. When you have the right skills with the right solutions, you'll be able to command a higher price in the market. Prices will slowly start to increase because of technological advancement, but also because many partners will be able to charge for more services than they might have been able to in the past. The final piece is you'll probably see a higher turnover of equipment as demand increases and new use cases and new applications emerge. Typically, refresh cycles started with the move from Intel Pentium 1 to Pentium 2 and were then driven by changes to the operating system or by an OS end of life and finally by financial considerations – a PC was an asset and when that asset had depreciated to a certain point it was replaced. I think we'll now see churn really driven by use cases and applications and the need for more computing speed – ‘I'm going to need TOPS of greater than 100 and the machine I bought a year ago only has 40’. That churn will be different to what we've experienced in the past 20 or 30 years. TR: It's what the PC industry needs at this point. BL: I don't like to celebrate COVID, but it did give us a real shot in the arm, albeit for the wrong reasons. The market wasn’t driven by a technological advancement but by the need to be able to work from home. You've got to go way back to 1999/2000 to find something that made everybody want to move forward. AI PCs are revolutionary because when people start to really feel the benefits of AI, they will recognise that they need an AI-enabled computer to help them work better. It's been a while since people have said I need a computer, but I don't need just any computer. TR: How would you define an AI PC? BL: I made a video a couple of weeks ago to help answer something as simple as that because there are a lot of interpretations around it. From a hardware perspective, the single biggest difference between an AI and non-AI PC is that an AI PC must have a neural processing unit (NPU) in the processor. After that, you can start to ask yourself, what is the best one. NPU speed in measured in TOPS (trillions of operations per second). Last week Microsoft announced the Copilot+ PC powered by Qualcomm, the first so called Last month TD SYNNEX brought its Destination AI programme to the UK and Europe, providing a framework to support resellers on their AI journey. The end-to-end programme has four pillars: awareness – to educate partners on the latest AI advancements and trends; enablement – to give partners the tools and knowledge, certifications and training they need to build solutions and incorporate AI seamlessly into their operations; support during the sales cycle – to provide guidance and expert advice to help partners design and create solutions to meet customers’ needs; and, lastly, support after the sale – to help partners with post-sale services that could come on the back of AI solutions, potentially stepping in where partners don't have in-house capabilities or resources. The bulk of our conversation with Brandon Lieberthal centred on AI PCs and their likely impact on PC sales, but to start with we asked him about Destination AI and what that end-to-end programme tells us about the changing role of channel partners. Q&ATechnology Reseller talks to Brandon Lieberthal, VP PC and Printing Systems, Europe at TD SYNNEX, about AI PCs and why they could be revolutionary for the channel Brandon Lieberthal