The coronavirus pandemic has caused tremendous economic upheaval, but the global crisis has also seen the creation of many new businesses, and Intel U.S. Channel Chief Jason Kimrey believes four technologies will be essential to entities both old and new as they forge ahead.
Kimrey urged solution providers to get behind these technology trends — AI, automation, the “mini cloud world” and IoT — to help businesses and other organizations recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 at Best of Breed (BoB) Winter 2021, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.
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“While the impact was significant and to some industries was literally catastrophic, technology is at the heart of the recovery, and we believe this creates a lot of opportunity for all of us moving forward,” Kimrey, general manager of Intel’s U.S. channel and partner programs, said at the event Wednesday.
To underline the pandemic’s impact, Kimrey cited internal data collected from the chipmaker’s channel partners, stating that 56 percent of them saw a decrease in revenue in the second quarter of 2020.
“For those of you serving the public sector or financial services or banking, actually the impacts from COVID weren’t that bad. In fact, some of your business increased,” he said. “However, if you were tightly aligned to segments like retail, and travel and hospitality — or manufacturing — clearly these were industries that were impacted.”
At the same time, Kimrey said, the second quarter also saw “an incredible startup boom.”
“So while lots of small and medium businesses certainly struggled and some won’t recover, we saw that new business starts in the middle of last year were at an all-time high,” he said. “And it’s safe to believe that all of these companies will have technology as a core component of their business.”
To help make his case for the importance of technology for economic recovery, Kimrey also cited data from a survey Intel conducted, saying that 76 percent of manufacturers plan to increase their use of new technologies “to transform their business operations.”
With AI, “the ability to predict with greater precision has never been more important,” and Intel expects it to continue to be a major area of growth, according to Kimrey. Automation is also key because of its “ability to serve customers and improve operations through self-serve.”
When it comes to cloud computing, it’s all about the “mini-cloud world,” Kimrey said, which means embracing different kinds of clouds to best suit various needs.
“It’s no longer going to be a public or private choice that customers will make. It’s all of the above,” he said. “So whether it’s a public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, industry cloud, edge cloud, all of these are going to play a more important role, and all are going to be need to work seamlessly and interoperable together.”
Lastly, Kimrey said, IoT will continue to play an important role in digital transformation as more devices become connected and compute capabilities increase.
The U.S. channel chief said Intel’s product portfolio will play a major role in these technology trends, from the company’s processors and Optane memory to FPGAs and, the newest addition to the company’s capabilities, discrete GPU components for graphics, AI and other workloads.
Kimrey noted how Intel launched its first discrete graphics card for laptops last year and that the company has big GPU plans for the data center this year.
“This is not going to be just a ‘me too’ product,” he said. “This is going to be a game-changing GPU that that will really help accelerate the adoption of AI and analytics for industries and customers everywhere.”
Alexey Stolyar, CTO of International Computer Concepts, a Northbrook, Ill.-based server integrator and Intel partner, said his company has seen a lot of customers requesting servers that are closer to the edge to drive lower-latency computing.
As an example, Stolyar said, he is using FPGA technology to develop a video transcoding application for an edge server for a customer so that it’s faster to upload and process videos, which has become a fundamental capability as many meetings and events are still virtual.
“Now, for an individual user, it’s whatever, right? But when you have thousands of users, and you need to move all that bandwidth — so first of all, bandwidth is expensive. Second of all, it’s driving latency, and so performance is going to start to suffer. So it’s much easier to have all these pods spread out globally,” he said.