AI as a Service: The Next Big Thing, or the Next Big Buzzword

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It can be challenging to keep on top of all the new terms and buzzwords. However, it’s even harder to figure out which new terms are just buzzwords and which are truly the next big thing. As a startup, you need to be aware of these terms but you also need to be careful not to make your entire value proposition just a list of buzzwords!  Remember when “big data” somehow made its way into every company pitch? So what’s AI as a Service? Is it really something new or just the next buzzword?

SaaS is the Starting Point for AI as a Service

I think that most of you are familiar with the term “software as a service”, or SaaS but it’s important to take a step back and put SaaS into perspective. SaaS relies heavily on the cloud and put an end to the days of software companies selling on premise software with a one off cost and then a yearly subscription. SaaS ushered in a new era of software sales and a new business model, where companies sell yearly software licenses instead of the one off sale followed by support.

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What is AI as a Service?

AI as a Service (some even call it AIaaS) is supposed to represent the maturing of the AI market and the democratising of access to AI software. The idea is that 3rd party companies can lease out access to AI tools allowing companies to experiment with AI software for various purposes with little to no risk. In practice, this means companies playing around with AWS, Azur or tools offered by the biggest companies in the market. It also is based on the idea that businesses have no idea what AI should be used for and just want to play around with it and try it out.

AI as a Service exists because small AI Startups’ Marketing is Poor

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It’s the next big buzzword and marketing pushed by the biggest companies on the market. It’s no accident that when you google it, you end up with advertisements from IBM and AWS! AI as a Service tries to capitalise on the fact that small AI companies are, and there is no way to put this less bluntly, bad at marketing.

Small and innovative AI companies are leading with taglines like, “The most Powerful AI on the market to revolutionise and humanise data”. It’s no wonder that potential buyers have no idea what AI should be used for. This poor marketing also allows the biggest players in the market to come in and say, “don’t do a $50K POC with a small AI company to figure out how to use AI, try out AI as a Service offer which is a fraction of the price”.  


So AI as a Service is a buzzword and also represents a threat to small AI Startups who are relying on POCs and pilots and don’t have a value proposition that is driven by solving their customer’s problems.

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