Amazon, at its big cloud conference AWS Re:invent announced two key developments in the area of artificial intelligence. AWS is opening a machine learning lab, ML Solutions Lab, to pair Amazon machine learning experts with customers looking to build solutions using the AI tech. It is also releasing new features within Amazon Rekognition, Amazon’s deep learning-based image recognition platform that includes real-time face recognition and the ability to recognize text in images.
Amazon’s Consulting and Services play
Software companies like Microsoft, IBM, SAP and even Salesforce have built an army of consultants who help customers deploy and configure their specialized products. Amazon and google are realizing that their clients are quite interested in solving specific problems using A.I and Machine Learning techniques. However, they may not have the in-house expertise or skills to solve such problems.
A.I. also continues to be on “top 10 or “top 25” Digital Startup ideas. Promising AI and Machine learning focused startups are frequently being courted and acquired by the tech oligopoly — Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft (link). In many cases, executives see it as an opportunity to on-board a pool of talent more than just acquiring a promising technology. This has also lead to a talent war leading to “Huge Salaries for ‘scarce’ A.I. Talent” (link)
Tech companies like Google and Amazon are learning from the playbook of Microsoft and IBM by enabling consulting and services in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. Google launched its own AI consulting service called “the Machine Learning Advanced Solutions Lab” last year.
Announcing the ML consulting services, Amazon said
The Amazon ML Solutions Lab pairs your team with Amazon machine learning experts to prepare data, build and train models, and put models into production. It combines hands-on educational workshops with brainstorming sessions and advisory professional services to help you ‘work backwards’ from business challenges, and then go step-by-step through the process of developing machine learning-based solutions. At the end of the program, you will be able to take what you have learned through the process and use it elsewhere in your organization to apply ML to business opportunities.
Amazon has been investing in machine learning for more than 20 years, innovating in areas such as fulfilment and logistics, personalization and recommendations, forecasting, fraud prevention, and supply chain optimization. The Amazon ML Solutions Lab provides you access to the talent that built many of Amazon’s machine learning-powered products and services to accelerate the development of your own ML experts through direct guidance and instruction.
Swami Sivasubramanian, who leads AI initiatives at AWS, was quoted by Wired magazine saying “We consistently heard they wanted to learn from the machine-learning scientists who built these capabilities for Amazon.com, the consulting shop was launched in response to requests from customers for help building AI systems.” Companies pay to tap Amazon’s experts, but Sivasubramanian declined to detail the menu they are offered or the prices, saying it varies depending on the project.