Deploying AI without purpose can lead to a path to uncertainty and stagnation

Amidst the evolving landscape of high-speed computing infrastructure demands, organizations face the challenge of improving efficiencies while meeting the growing demand for AI workloads. Lenovo’s Infrastructure Solution Group (ISG) claims to tackle these challenges head-on.

With a focus on AI integration, Lenovo’s ISG division offers a comprehensive suite of servers, storage, networking, and solutions; It says that it focuses on enabling organizations to maximize their data center potential.

Expecting robust double-digit growth in the ISG business due to the expanding adoption of hybrid AI, Lenovo foresees a wave of new and promising opportunities emerging for its ISG business in India.

In a recent discussion with Jatinder Singh, Executive Editor of CIO&Leader, Amit Luthra, Managing Director – India, Lenovo ISG, highlighted the company’s strategic focus, latest innovations, and its approach to tackling AI workload challenges within organizations.

As Managing Director of Lenovo Infrastructure Solution Group in India, Amit is responsible for
driving Lenovo ISG’s business growth in the country and advocating its end-to-end offerings from
the pocket to the data center to the cloud while driving customer confidence in the data center
business across the market. Excerpts from the interview.

Amit Luthra, Managing Director – India, Lenovo ISG

CIO&Leader: With AI workloads becoming more important and CIOs focusing on modernizing infrastructure, what’s your specific vision for this market? And how do your data center solutions deal with these challenges?

Amit Luthra: Our approach is always to focus on outcomes and provide a better end-to-end customer experience. In this process, we do not differentiate between large or small organizations; we provide the same experience regardless of scale. Our global manufacturing facilities and supply chain are rated among the best in the world, focusing on sustainability in everything we do. From an artificial intelligence standpoint, AI has changed how people live and play and how businesses operate. Each organization we engage with seeks to understand how AI can benefit them. Our engagements focus on delivering clear outcomes, regardless of workload or deployment, ensuring an end-to-end experience for our customers.

CIO&Leader: You mentioned customer experience is crucial in the digital era, but integrating existing infrastructure with new solutions remains a challenge for CIOs. How do you ensure these environments’ seamless transition and coexistence to add value for the enterprises?

Amit Luthra: In today’s landscape, organizations often encounter two distinct types of workloads: traditional business workloads, sometimes referred to as legacy workloads, and newer, transformative workloads. While “legacy” may suggest outdatedness, these established workloads have matured over the past decade or two, forming the backbone of many operations. Organizations typically have dedicated infrastructure to manage these traditional workloads, which continue to perform reliably.

However, the popularity of social media, mobile technology, cloud computing, and other modern innovations has ushered in a wave of transformative workloads. These new workloads have the potential to revolutionize business practices, requiring organizations to adapt and evolve their infrastructure accordingly. Unlike traditional workloads, transformative workloads often exhibit dynamic scaling needs and may necessitate a different approach to infrastructure provision.

Our approach to addressing these evolving workload demands begins with a comprehensive workshop. During this engagement, we delve deep into understanding each workload’s specific requirements and characteristics. By thoroughly understanding the workload, we can explore opportunities to optimize deployment, leveraging existing resources wherever possible. This tailored approach ensures that our solutions align closely with each organization’s unique needs.

Ultimately, the success of any project hinges on an organization’s ability to grasp and effectively manage the complexities of different workloads accurately. By prioritizing workload-centric engagement and demonstrating tangible value to our clients, we pave the way for more successful outcomes and sustainable business transformation.

CIO&Leader: How do you see the overall development of the AI ecosystem? And what particular challenges is Lenovo addressing in this regard?

Amit Luthra: In today’s landscape, AI has become a buzzword, with many organizations feeling pressured to jump on the bandwagon without fully understanding its potential. This phenomenon often leads to the “FOMO effect” — a fear of missing out on AI’s promised benefits. However, simply deploying AI for the sake of it can leave organizations in a state of uncertainty, stuck in the whiteboard stage without a clear understanding of its practical applications.

On the flip side, we’ve observed a common thread among successful organizations: forming cross-functional teams, or what some refer to as “tiger teams.” These teams bring together individuals from IT, data science, business analysis, and finance to collaboratively explore how AI can drive meaningful change within their operations. Rather than diving into AI unquestioningly, these teams start by asking critical questions: What specific business challenges are we aiming to address with AI? Are we looking to enhance customer satisfaction, streamline operations, or improve fraud detection?

Organizations can embark on a successful AI journey by defining clear objectives and assembling the right talent. For example, one organization we worked with aimed to streamline content creation using generative AI. By aligning their AI efforts with their core objectives, they could transform verbose content into concise, visually appealing infographics, significantly reducing production time.

From our perspective, AI isn’t a new concept; it’s rooted in years of research and development. Leveraging our legacy in high-performance computing, we’ve tailored over 150 platforms specifically for AI applications. Rather than offering one-size-fits-all solutions, we work closely with our clients to understand their unique data needs and design custom AI platforms accordingly. Ultimately, the key to successful AI implementation is marrying AI with data. Whether deploying AI at the edge for real-time data analysis or leveraging AI to derive insights from vast datasets, the goal is to empower organizations to make data-driven decisions effectively.

CIO&Leader: Do you think AI and Automation will significantly change how businesses operate in the next two to three years?

Amit Luthra: When we look at AI and automation, it’s evident that they walk a fine line, divided by nuanced differences. AI is primarily geared towards handling non-repetitive tasks, whereas automation thrives in managing repetitive tasks efficiently. While there’s a common misconception that AI automates processes outright, it’s crucial to recognize their distinct roles. To truly revolutionize business operations, AI and automation must complement each other seamlessly.

The true power of AI lies in its ability to facilitate decision-making processes. For instance, AI-driven robotics can autonomously make decisions, whereas automation typically entails following predefined rules learned through training. Herein lies the synergy: AI contributes the intelligence, while automation provides the structured execution. The harmonious collaboration of these technologies holds the key to transformative outcomes.

I firmly believe that harnessing the synergy between AI and automation holds immense potential to drive substantial business growth in the foreseeable future. As organizations refine their deployment strategies and optimize efficiency, we can anticipate a palpable surge in productivity and innovation across various sectors.

Consider, for instance, the manufacturing domain, where AI-enabled robotics can streamline operations significantly. While AI creates the robots themselves, automation steps in to train and fine-tune their capabilities, encompassing modules such as inference and generative AI. This holistic approach underscores the synergetic relationship between AI and automation, likely to reshape industries and unlock unprecedented possibilities.

CIO&Leader: But one of the biggest challenges for the industry has been the talent shortage, especially in AI and other emerging technologies. Are you undertaking any collaboration programs or initiatives to address this issue?

Amit Luthra: Indeed, talent shortage is a significant concern. We collaborate with ISVs and OEMs to identify niche vendors and innovative solutions. Our focus is on educating the industry on AI basics and enabling them to understand the potential of AI. While there’s still much to learn, collaboration and continuous learning will drive progress in the AI space.

CIO&Leader: How is Lenovo advancing in terms of new innovations and partnerships?

Amit Luthra: With the rise of IoT and increased data analytics at the edge, we’ve developed purpose-built edge platforms. These platforms allow for GPU deployment in harsh environments, enabling real-time analytics without transmitting data to centralized locations.

Regarding ecosystems, it’s essential to understand the three areas where AI can benefit data center infrastructure: We collaborate with cloud providers in the public cloud to deploy AI-specific platforms for hyperscalers. In private cloud environments, we offer optimized platforms to accelerate AI adoption, fostering centers of excellence and AI discovery. We provide uniquely tailored solutions for sectors like retail, facilitating the transition to AI-powered computing.

Our commitment to AI innovation is substantial, with a billion-dollar investment in our AI Innovators Program. We collaborate closely with ISVs through this program to optimize infrastructure for specific use cases. For example, we have partnerships with Deep Brain in Korea and the US and others in retail, IoT, and BFSI sectors.

CIO&Leader: Considering Lenovo’s substantial growth in the ISG business in India, what are your expectations for the next year, and how do you foresee addressing the industry’s challenges and opportunities?

Amit Luthra: This year holds promise for significant growth, with a focus on hybrid cloud management, infrastructure modernization, and hyper-convergence. We’re seeing a trend toward repatriating AI workloads, indicating a shift in IT strategies. Investments in as-a-service models and AI-driven solutions will drive innovation and address the evolving needs of the industry.

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