Understanding the AI/Cloud Convergence

AI and cloud computing are revolutionizing the digital landscape, enhancing innovation, and productivity. Organizations must adapt to not only thrive but also lead in this new era.

Ben Blanquera, VP, Technology and Sustainability, Rackspace

June 3, 2024

4 Min Read
AI robot using cloud computing technology
Chroma Craft Media Group via Alamy Stock

The digital world is undergoing a monumental transformation as artificial intelligence and cloud computing join forces, expanding the possibilities of innovation and productivity. This strategic alliance is revolutionizing the way we work, driving unprecedented efficiency and granting businesses the competitive edge they need to thrive in today's market.  

In a recent survey of global IT professionals we sponsored, business leaders cited artificial intelligence and cloud transformation as two of the main areas deserving of increased spend in 2024. This speaks not only to the potential transformative power of AI, but also the degree to which it is intertwined with the continued evolution of cloud strategies. 

As organizations continue to prioritize AI and cloud, here are some key best practices and trends they should keep in mind:  

The Interdependency of AI and Cloud 

Cloud computing serves as a gateway to AI, enabling companies of all sizes to remotely access sophisticated AI models and scale their computing resources as needed. By offering scalable infrastructure, the cloud allows organizations to seamlessly expand their operations, efficiently manage resources, optimize costs and maintain agility. But effective data management strategies are essential to ensure that the vast datasets that underlie AI are being efficiently stored, accessed, and analyzed.  

Related:How AI is Transforming Cloud Computing

Absent a comprehensive cloud strategy, companies wishing to realize the full benefits of AI will always fall short. The ability to process large amounts of data in real-time, make informed decisions, and act quickly based on actionable AI insights are all highly cloud dependent. Moreover, the cloud allows companies to experiment with different AI models and rethink or reject projects that are proving infeasible, while accelerating successful initiatives without significant up-front investment. 

In addition to providing a comprehensive environment for building, training, and implementing AI models at scale, the cloud gives organizations the infrastructure necessary to manage projects efficiently, as well as a self-sustaining ecosystem that continuously advances technology. By fostering easier collaboration among teams and geographies, it also allows organizations to tap into a global talent pool and leverage diverse perspectives, which can lead to innovative solutions and improved decision-making. 

The Risks of Falling Behind 

Without AI- and cloud-powered process optimization, businesses face rising operational costs and inefficiencies. Failing to invest in AI could also mean missing out on insights and opportunities, ranging from predictive analytics to personalized services to customer behavior insights to new revenue streams. 

Related:Tapping AI to Alleviate Cloud Spend

Moreover, as the regulatory landscape surrounding data usage and AI ethics continues to evolve, it's crucial for companies to stay ahead of emerging regulations and ensure that their AI initiatives are compliant. The cloud plays an important role here, helping organizations maintain a better handle on their data and helping them respond more quickly and efficiently to shifts in the regulatory environment and customer expectations. 

Recommendations for Staying Competitive 

For companies lagging behind in their AI and cloud journeys, there are a few steps they can take immediately to begin to catch up to more nimble peers: 

  • Focus on your data strategy: The most forward-looking AI organizations have already taken steps to institute comprehensive data strategies encompassing governance, security, and compliance -- all crucial elements for seamless data integration and analysis. 

  • Understand your AI fit: Companies need to not just stay up to date on the latest AI developments, but also understand how they can align their AI and cloud investments with their business goals. Not every AI tool is right for every organization. 

  • Prioritize innovation and training: Organizations should encourage experimentation with AI by investing in employee training and development and creating a culture that embraces change.  

  • Build partnerships: Collaborating with partners, technology leaders and startups can provide organizations with access to cutting-edge AI solutions and unique insights that may not currently reside within your four walls. No company has all the answers on AI, so dialogue is critical. 

  • Watch the wallet: Investing in all AI projects at once can be a sure-fire path to runaway cloud costs. Organizations should understand which projects are taking place across functional areas and account for associated cloud costs. Demonstrating a return on investment is the best way to secure organizational support and justify further AI investment. 

Related:The AI Skills Gap and How to Address It

As businesses move further into a future dominated by AI and cloud computing, understanding the nature (and the potential challenges) of this technological convergence is more crucial than ever. By leveraging AI and cloud computing to their fullest potential, organizations can not just survive in this new era but emerge as leaders, shaping the future. 

About the Author(s)

Ben Blanquera

VP, Technology and Sustainability, Rackspace

Ben Blanquera is a Vice President with Rackspace Technology. He works with enterprises, architecting solutions to enable them to drive business outcomes through thriving in a multicloud world. He is a 35-year veteran in multiple industries including health care, manufacturing, and technology consulting. 

A recognized technology leader, Ben was named a Premier 100 leader by Computerworld. He is an active organizer in the tech community and curates the Central Ohio CIO forum (150+ CIOs) and founded Techlife Columbus. Ben also serves on the Pitch Advisory Board for South by Southwest and the Editorial Board for CDO Magazine. 

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