AWS launches program to boost AI and tech competency for small and medium businesses

Amazon Web Services' new competency program for small and medium businesses helps them build skills in AI and other tech tools

Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently launched a new program aimed at helping small- and medium-sized businesses build competencies in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), the cloud and other skillsets to be more competitive.

"Small businesses often don’t have the technical resources or depth or maybe experience, think migrations or AI is a perfect example – they’re not necessarily going to have a data scientist on staff," Ben Schreiner, U.S. head of business innovation for SMB at AWS, told FOX Business. "So our partner network for AWS is incredibly important to helping those customers be successful, realizing whatever their strategy is, or even experimenting with some of these new technologies."

AWS’ competency program leverages the specialties of partner companies that have experience helping smaller businesses implement technical solutions. The program launched with 30 initial partners, including 17 based in the U.S., that can provide a variety of services for SMBs ranging from AI and machine learning to cloud implementation, security solutions and customer relationship management tools.

"This group of aspiring companies that are trying to be nimble and competitive, they have different needs," Schreiner explained. "They often don’t have all the complexity or maybe some of the bureaucracy or things that a large enterprise would have. So partners that focus on this end of the market, we wanted to have a way to recognize them as having deep expertise solving problems for this particular market."

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Amazon Web Services' SMB competency program pairs small and medium businesses with partners experienced in serving SMBs' tech needs. (Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Scheiner said AWS looked at the partners’ consulting services and products offered, and the competency program recognizes a given partner’s areas of expertise to help match customers with partners that can help them with the needs they’ve identified and potentially those that they haven’t yet considered.

"It really comes down to the customer saying ‘this is what I’m trying to do’ and then our teams matching that up with these competency partners and making sure we have a good fit," Schreiner said.

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As an example of how partners and SMB customers interact, Schreiner noted how end customer Magellantv which worked with Mission Cloud, one of the AWS SMB competency program’s initial launch partners, on a project that started with a security review of its network. 

Magellantv has a large library of documentaries that were primarily recorded in English. Through their consultation, Mission Cloud came up with the idea of creating a generative AI workflow that could dub the video in different languages with subtitles as needed to broaden the market for Magellantv’s content library.

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AWS' competency program helps SMBs build tech skills that can help to solve business problems they face. ((Photo by Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services) / Getty Images)

"When you go to convert video to a different language, usually you hire voice actors and it’s expensive and it’s not something that happens frequently and there’s a huge opportunity for generative AI to actually transform Magellantv and open it up to the world, but other platforms," Schreiner explained. 

"I don’t know that the customer knew that gen AI was the answer to the problem, but it opened up a pretty neat expansion of that business," he said while noting that Mission Cloud’s work with Magellantv was spotlighted during a keynote at AWS’ re:Invent conference in November.

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AWS vets prospective partners for the program by looking at whether their target market aligns with AWS’ definition of SMBs as well as their track record of working with companies in that size range.

SMBs that wish to participate in the competency program can reach out to AWS and describe the problem they’re trying to solve to help AWS pair them with a partner that offers a solution.