Getting real about AI in the enterprise

Gabrielle Boko, CMO at NetApp
  • “Risk of extinction.”
  • “A threat to humanity.” 
  • “A threat to humanity.” 

You’d think these headlines are talking about the movie Oppenheimer. But no, it seems AI is the new menace.  

I admit, I’m biased, which is a tricky thing to say in the world of AI. But as CMO of a tech company that’s using and offering AI technology, I’m pretty confident in saying that the world isn’t ending—at least not because of AI. 

I’m in a unique position, both championing new generative AI capabilities at NetApp and telling the story of how we help our customers speed the adoption of AI.  

You must find the balance between simplifying your technology and maintaining the flexibility needed for the next innovation, which in this case is AI.

Gabie Boko, CMO, NetApp 

In other words, a lot of cool AI tools that have hit the market can benefit companies—but remember how we got here. AI didn’t just show up overnight. 

At NetApp, for example, we’ve been working for years on how to best integrate the behind-the-scenes plumbing needed to run AI. For decades, you’ve been told to “simplify” your technology. That sounds good from a marketing perspective, but in reality, oversimplification is not a good thing. You must find the balance between simplifying your technology and maintaining the flexibility needed for the next innovation, which in this case is AI. 

Let’s be clear: AI is complex, so be careful of vendors that offer to simplify everything—as long as it’s inside their box. Many companies have been caught flat-footed by the enormous multicloud integration needed to successfully benefit from AI projects. This is where we excel. 

We’re a pioneer in AI data infrastructure, currently enabling our customers to integrate, access, and manage the full lifecycle of their AI data—anywhere. Our storage works with leading machine learning operations (MLOps) platforms by using open, flexible integrations to new data architectures for better scalability, security, and efficiency. With over 300 customers running AI workloads on our systems and our strong engineering relationships with NVIDIA, Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, it’s safe to say we’re an industry leader.  

But let’s address the elephant in the room: the challenges that come with AI in the enterprise. Buckle up, because we’re diving into AI innovations, data security, sustainability, and gaining a competitive edge. 

Putting people first: Responsibility matters 

When implementing AI, it’s crucial to consider its impact on people. We’re committed to helping reduce bias in language models and minimizing the use of synthetic media. Rather than replacing your teams, empower them with AI tools to enhance their effectiveness and productivity. In marketing, we’ve already witnessed remarkable AI-driven improvements in understanding and targeting our desired audiences. 

Privacy protection: Handle with care 

The democratization of AI means that every employee wields incredible power. But what happens when sensitive customer or employee data falls into the wrong hands? The risk to personally identifiable information (PII) has never been greater. Stay one step ahead by prioritizing foundational hybrid cloud data protection. Trust us, regulatory bodies are catching on fast, and legal protections will tighten. 

Planet-friendly AI: Let’s talk sustainability 

As AI language models become more sophisticated, their processing power and energy consumption skyrocket. The more AI we use, the greater the negative impact on the planet. It’s time to address this pressing issue head-on. Gartner estimates that AI can actually help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5% to 15%. As leaders, we need to openly discuss and prioritize the sustainability impact of AI. The benefits must outweigh the environmental costs. 

AI and IP: Our secret sauce 

This year, everyone seems to be asking about how we’re using AI at NetApp. Our use of AI is a competitive differentiator, and we’re not alone in keeping it under wraps. Most of our 300+ AI customers prefer to keep their AI strategies confidential, too. 

But rest assured, AI is deeply ingrained in our operations. The NetApp® Active IQ® Digital Advisor tool uses machine learning and predictive analytics to enhance storage system health, availability, security, and sustainability. In marketing, we’ve been leveraging machine learning for years to understand and support our customers better. We’re even harnessing generative AI to elevate the customer experience and boost our creative team’s efficiency. Our engineering teams are trailblazers, driving innovation with early adoption of generative AI. Recently, we introduced ChatGPT capabilities across the company, fostering IP protection and encouraging experimentation. 

Our use of AI leads the industry, and we’re excited to help our customers accelerate innovation. AI transformation will be bigger than digital transformation. Hang on for the ride. It’s going to be fantastic.  

Get prepared—read the IDC report on storage infrastructure considerations for AI and deep learning training.  

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