GenAI Will ‘Dwarf’ The Internet’s Innovation Cycle, Says Intermedia Exec

Generative AI isn’t ‘overhyped’ and MSPs have a massive opportunity to help SMBs harness GenAI and bring it safely into their existing workflows, Mark Sher, senior vice president of product marketing for Intermedia, tells an audience of MSPs at XChange NexGen 2023.


Generative AI might be an overheated tech topic right now that everyone is talking about and every vendor is promoting, but there’s no denying that there’s been a “massive” explosion of both consumer and business applications over the past year, according to Mark Sher (pictured), senior vice president of product marketing Sunnyvale, Calif.-based UCaaS provider Intermedia.

“Is it overhyped? Are we talking about it too much? I don’t think so because what we’re starting to see is the beginning of a new 10- to 20-year innovation cycle that will dwarf what we saw with the internet,” Sher told an audience of MSPs at CRN parent The Channel Company’s XChange NexGen 2023 conference in Houston.

Whether business users realize it or not, AI, which is trained to perform specific tasks and make decisions based on predefined rules and patterns, is already a pervasive part of daily life. It’s a simple as autocorrect embedded into Microsoft Word or within many email platforms, autofill for a search engine or when sending a text message. The promise that generative AI, or GenAI offers, on the other hand, is a slightly different kind of machine learning that can create new data based on the patterns and relationships identified in existing data, Sher said.

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Intermedia partners have a massive opportunity to help SMBs harness generative AI and bring it safely into their existing workflows, Sher said.

“It’s exciting. It’s also scary. But at the same time, when you look outside of the technology space and world demographics and populations, there are not going to be the workers available 10 or 20 years from now to do the work that’s been done by humans today. Having something like AI can make it such that it doesn’t lead to economic collapse,” said Bruce James, owner and director of business development for solution provider Cloud Navigators.

The American Fork, Utah-based company, which is focused on identity access management, does have its eye on generative AI as an emerging technology that’s still evolving.

“The [past] has been based on humans doing labor, and technology has assisted with that. But AI has the capability to do the labor itself, just like the Industrial Revolution,’ he said. “This could help economic growth, but there’ll be a transitionary phase. This point where we’re at right now, if we can get our arms around it, it can be really beneficial.”

Intermedia’s Spark AI offering, which uses generative AI, Large Language Models and natural language processing, is being embedded into the company’s offerings to improve efficiency and productivity for SMBs. The company believes that AI is quickly becoming table stakes that communication systems will need to help users perform more efficiently, improve the customer experience and drive better business insight, according to Intermedia.

The most important thing for partners to remember is to understand the needs and the goals of their business customers, Sher reminded the audience.

“You don’t buy AI. You don’t sell it. You offer solutions that are made better by AI. You help people be more efficient and productive. You help businesses make money when they use AI as an underlying technology,” he said.