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How Amazon, Google, Microsoft, And IBM Sell AI As A Service

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The tech giants with cloud computing businesses are using artificial intelligence offerings to distinguish themselves and win business.

Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft have all discovered that the artificial intelligence they use to make their own products better can be turned into a service and sold to corporate customers as a value-added service on top of their booming cloud-computing businesses.

Alphabet and its best-known subsidiary, Google, have put considerable resources into machine learning going back to 1999, the first year that Google acknowledged publicly that it used AI to improve Google Search, then its only product. Once Google decided to get more serious about its cloud computing business and serving enterprise customers—Google Cloud storage officially launched in 2010—it has found more ways to take its AI investment and acumen and use it to serve others. Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud, has admitted that enterprise customers had been wary of Google because the company has been so consumer focused; its AI capabilities have played a meaningful role in winning them over.

Alphabet has two major divisions working on AI: Google Brain and DeepMind, which it acquired for $500 million in 2014. Both groups have worked on applying AI in healthcare, for example, which then allows Google Cloud to better serve businesses in that field. The company’s efforts in image recognition can become valuable for Airbus and other aerospace businesses that need to process and glean insights from large volumes of satellite imagery. All of Google’s work on Google Translate can now help any global business with a call center. Although most of the value in Google’s AI accrues to its own products and services, the company has stated that Google Cloud is one of its fastest-growing business units.

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