As ChatGPT Excites, 8 Solution Provider CEOs Invest In AI, ML, Automation

SPR, WWT, Conduent, Avanade and Open Systems are among the solution providers to weigh in on AI, ML and automation in 2023.

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic this year with so many nontechnical internet users getting the chance to experiment with ChatGPT, Dall-E and other content-generating programs.

And in the channel, solution providers are continuing to see how AI, machine learning (ML) and automation can improve internal processes as well as deliver better business results for customers.

SPR CEO Rob Figliulo was among the CEOs to cite AI, ML and automation as key areas of interest as part of CRN’s 2023 CEO Outlook special report.

“Capabilities such as computer vision, natural language processing, ChatGPT and other generative AIs are allowing companies to harness the power of data like never before,” Figliulo said. “These different fields of AI are allowing both developers and nontechnical employees to perform complex tasks without doing the heavy lifting. Historically, all data science has taken place outside the cloud, but that‘s changing fast.”

[RELATED: 12 Solution Provider CEOs See More Cloud Opportunity In 2023]

Solution Provider CEOs On AI, ML, Automation In 2023

The report features thoughts on 2023 not only from service provider CEOs, but the top executives of some of the biggest vendors in tech, including AMD, Cisco Systems, Dell Technologies, Intel and VMware, as well as the CEOs of some of the top cybersecurity vendors.

The following are among the solution providers who shared their thoughts on investing in AI, ML and automation in 2023 as part of the report:

*World Wide Technology (WWT) CEO Jim Kavanaugh

*Conduent President and CEO Cliff Skelton

*Insight Enterprises President and CEO Joyce Mullen

*Avanade CEO Pamela Maynard

*Real Impact CEO Nyasha Tunduwani

*Open Systems CEO Geoff Haydon

*Denali Advanced Integration CEO Robert Vrij

Here’s how solution provider leaders view this opportunity in 2023.


CEO: Rob Figliulo

Figliulo, CEO of Chicago-based SPR, said AI, ML and cloud computing are the top areas “ripe for transformation and growth in 2023.”

“What’s interesting is that we’re seeing cloud computing as a pathway to innovation, and it’s fueling the growth of other emerging technologies,” Figliulo said. “For example, capabilities such as computer vision, natural language processing, ChatGPT and other generative AIs are allowing companies to harness the power of data like never before.

“These different fields of AI are allowing both developers and nontechnical employees to perform complex tasks without doing the heavy lifting. Historically, all data science has taken place outside the cloud, but that’s changing fast.”

The trend of low-code data science is like “prospecting for gold,” he said. “If you sift through enough dirt you will eventually end up with enough gems at the bottom, except there is little effort involved.”

AI and ML “can sift through massive amounts of data in seconds and provide solutions and breakthroughs that wouldn’t have been otherwise considered,” he said. “We are continuing to identify and invest in new ways that data science can bolster our internal operations, which we expect will translate over to customers.”

Chicago-based SPR’s partners include Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Nintex, Databricks and Snowflake.

World Wide Technology

CEO: Jim Kavanaugh

WWT CEO Kavanaugh said that AI and ML are among the technologies customers are investing in “to better inform decision-making and foster a more data-driven culture.”

“This type of focus on digital transformation helps our customers adapt to market demands while seamlessly integrating data and insights into new policies and processes that enhance overall productivity and cybersecurity—so these are all areas that are top priority for us in 2023,” he said.

Maryland Heights, Mo.-based WWT—which is No. 10 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500 list—has strategic partners including Cisco Systems, Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, NetApp, Microsoft and VMware.


President, CEO: Cliff Skelton

The digitization of business processes made possible by automation, AI, analytics and cloud represents the biggest market opportunity for Conduent in 2023, CEO Skelton said.

“Through our market-leading business process as a service solutions (‘BPaaS’)—which are cloud- and mobile-enabled, with a focus on analytics and enhanced customer experience—we aim to help our clients create the agility and flexibility they need in their business models,” Skelton said.

Florham Park, N.J.-based Conduent— No. 22 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500—is focused on technologies to increase efficiency, lower costs and improve customer experience for its customers. The subscription software model seems the best way to achieve this, such as through Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS).

“As a result of this emphasis, we continue to prioritize investments in cloud-based solutions, analytics, artificial intelligence, intelligent automation and machine learning, through our own technology and by integrating solutions from leading industry partners,” he said.

More automation will help customers “manage high-volume processes faster, more efficiently and with outcomes that meet the needs and expectations of their customers, who could be medical patients, toll road motorists and transit riders, or government benefits recipients,” Skelton said.

“They all want the immediacy, accuracy, security and convenience that only digital technologies can offer, delivered with the expertise of our team,” he said.

Insight Enterprises

President, CEO: Joyce Mullen

In 2023, Insight Enterprises President and CEO Mullen said, customers “need a partner who can guide them from IT’s traditional support role to modern cloud and edge solutions.”

These solutions “inform real-time decision making and accelerate automation for greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness at scale,” Mullen said. “We’re always looking at our business through a new lens and identifying innovative ways to do things better to deliver this, and that means continued investments in cloud, edge, data, AI and cybersecurity.”

The economic climate of high inflation and recession worries in the U.S. creates an opportunity for automation and other technology to “open the door to greater agility and new insights about the business,” she said.

“Every company is at a different stage of digital transformation, with many still trying to figure out a strategic road map and overcome decades of technical debt,” she said. “Being a trusted partner means that we can meet clients where they are to help them get to where they want to be—from IT strategy and design to implementation, organizational change and day-to-day management.”

Chandler, Ariz.-based Insight— No. 17 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500—counts among its partners Amazon Web Services, Dell Technologies, Check Point Software Technologies, Nutanix, HashiCorp, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Fortinet, Nvidia, Red Hat and Pure Storage.


CEO: Pamela Maynard

The economic climate means customers are “tapping into existing technology investments to do more, whether it’s to extract meaning from their data or automate existing processes, for example, so that employees are more informed, engaged and productive,” Avanade CEO Maynard said.

“They’re relying on us to collaborate to help them navigate what’s next—whether that be to pivot to a new business model, automate processes so they can be more efficient, or to enrich the employee and customer experiences,” Maynard said. “To do that, we must collectively think about their needs through their specific business and the industry in which they operate.”

Seattle-based Avanade— No. 33 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500—was established by Microsoft and Accenture in 2000. Its other partners include Nintex, Sitecore, Qlik, Zscaler, Databricks and Adobe.

Real Impact

CEO: Nyasha Tunduwani

Real Impact CEO Tunduwani said that modernizing and automating processes, applications and data estates for the company’s nonprofit, education and government sector customers is “a top priority” for 2023.

Real Impact will invest in sales automation for itself to “improve our ability to reach potential clients with personalized communication and provide our sales teams with the tools they need to succeed,” Tunduwani said.

One of the toughest challenges facing customers this year is “a lack of talent and skills to drive implementation of data, automation, applications and infrastructure modernization projects.”

“The lack of talent and skilled resources means they are unable to take advantage of cost savings inherent in new applications, data architecture and cloud infrastructure,” he said.

For Seattle-based Microsoft partner Real Impact, investing in data and Azure practices is important to “stay ahead of the curve,” Tunduwani said.

Integrations between Microsoft SQL Server and Azure “will be a significant opportunity for us,” he said.

Open Systems

CEO: Geoff Haydon*

Haydon, CEO of Open Systems—a member of CRN’s 2023 MSP 500—said that “developing the advanced automation and collaboration technologies we acquired in our purchase of Tiberium” is a key investment for the business in 2023.

“These will enable us to better protect customers by detecting and responding to threats faster and with greater impact,” Haydon said.

Automation will help expedite tier one alert triages and investigations, freeing up security analysts for more complex threats, he said.

“Automation and collaboration will also enable us to proactively protect customers,” he said. “Though quickly containing detected cyberthreats is certainly important. Preventing them altogether, however, is our ultimate goal.”

Open Systems has offices in Redwood City, Calif., Switzerland, India, Germany and Austria.

*After CRN concluded its CEO Outlook special report, Haydon became executive chairman of Open Systems and CEO of Open Systems division Ontinue.

Denali Advanced Integration

CEO: Robert Vrij

Denali Advanced Integration CEO Vrij said that automation and security are “big focus areas” for 2023 investments.

They “will complement our services-led, software-supported, hardware-enabled approach to drive business outcomes,” Vrij said.

Customers are specifically asking Denali to deliver more value in automation to drive efficiencies, he said.

Redmond, Wash.-based Denali is No. 37 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500. The company’s partners include Cisco Systems, Zebra Technologies, Samsung, Cradlepoint, Microsoft and Dell Technologies.