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AI outsourcing: tips for choosing the right technology partner for your company

By Victoria Shashkina, Innovation Analyst
Published on

If your company hasn’t yet jumped on the AI bandwagon, here are a few compelling statistics to inspire your decision:

  • Enterprises that adopt AI technologies experience a significant boost in productivity, while the potential global economic impact of artificial intelligence is predicted to reach $13 trillion by 2030
  • A whopping 64% of businesses believe that artificial intelligence will help increase their overall productivity
  • As labor shortages become a pressing concern, 25% of companies are turning to AI to address this issue
  • A notable 64% of businesses are optimistic that AI will improve their customer relationships

The problem is that most organizations are still lacking the technical talent and expertise to implement, scale, and benefit from artificial intelligence.

Way out? You could outsource AI consulting services to a third party!

In this article, the ITRex innovation analysts will sum up the benefits of this approach and guide you through the process of selecting the right technology partner for your AI needs.

Why consider AI outsourcing?

If your company is only getting started with artificial intelligence, outsourcing the technology’s implementation to a reliable AI services company can be a smart move.

Here’s why:

  • Instant access to top AI talent. Artificial intelligence talent is scarce, and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming years. Just recently, McKinsey analysts studied over 3.5 million job postings and discovered that the availability of qualified talent with specific competencies, such as applied artificial intelligence and generative AI, lags behind the number of open vacancies, with a supply-to-demand ratio of 1:2. Collaborating with an AI outsourcing provider allows you to hire top artificial intelligence developers for a fraction of the cost of establishing an in-house research and development (R&D) department.

  • Reduced exposure to risk. When striking a partnership with an AI outsourcing company, you don’t have to commit to a long-term project right away. Instead, AI consultants will help you test your idea through an artificial intelligence proof of concept (PoC), identify promising use cases for the technology in your organization, and advise you on how to implement AI in business in a risk-free way. Given that up to 92% of all AI projects fail or are halted in their early stages, starting your initiative small and with expert guidance can save your company time and money. For more information on AI implementation expenses, please refer to these AI cost and Gen AI cost articles.

  • Expertise in specialized AI applications. AI outsourcing providers have vast experience in applying cutting-edge technologies, from computer vision (CV) to natural language processing (NLP), to solving real-world problems faced by organizations from different sectors. Whether you’re planning to use AI for customer sentiment analysis or drug discovery, chances are some technology company has already done that and knows exactly what AI challenges can surface in the process, undermining your project’s success.

Jump to the next section to learn about the six main approaches to AI outsourcing and the scenarios in which they work best.

Top 6 approaches to AI outsourcing

Choosing the right approach to AI outsourcing plays a pivotal role in your project’s success.

Here at ITRex, we single out six common ways to outsource AI development and implementation:

  1. End-to-end AI outsourcing

  2. Task-specific AI outsourcing

  3. AI consulting

  4. Dedicated development team (DDT)

  5. AI as a Service (AIaaS)

  6. Build, operate, transfer (BOT)

Let us see how these AI outsourcing models compare and what benefits they offer.

1. End-to-end AI outsourcing

End-to-end outsourcing involves delegating the entire AI development process to a specialized partner. This approach is suitable for those looking for a one-stop solution to address complex AI challenges.

This approach has such benefits as:

  • Single-source responsibility for the entire AI development lifecycle

  • Access to specialized expertise and resources

  • Streamlined project management and delivery

2. Task-specific AI outsourcing

Task-specific outsourcing allows focusing on particular aspects of the AI development lifecycle. This AI outsourcing model is cost-effective and efficient for addressing isolated challenges, for instance, data labeling or model training.

The approach offers several benefits:

  • Cost-effectiveness for addressing focused AI requirements

  • Specialization in particular aspects of AI development

  • Flexibility to scale AI development resources up or down depending on your project’s requirements

3. AI consulting

AI consulting services provide insights and guidance, helping companies define their AI strategies. This approach is beneficial for organizations looking to leverage AI but lacking the internal expertise to formulate a comprehensive AI strategy.

The advantages of this approach span:

  • Access to strategic insights and recommendations to align AI with business goals

  • Expert guidance in overcoming AI implementation challenges

  • Reduced risk of costly mistakes and delays

4. Dedicated development team

Assembling a dedicated team for AI outsourcing ensures a focused and customized approach. This model is suitable for companies with long-term AI goals and a need for continuous development and maintenance. It should be noted, however, that you will be responsible for providing full-time workload to all members of your dedicated team for the agreed-upon period of time.

The benefits of hiring a AI dedicated team include:

  • Long-term focus on specific AI projects or initiatives

  • Close collaboration with internal stakeholders

  • Ability to maintain control over the AI development process

5. AI as a Service (AIaaS)

AI as a Service (AIaaS) offers on-demand access to AI capabilities, eliminating the need for extensive in-house resources. This model is ideal for businesses that require adaptable and scalable AI solutions without investing in hardware, software, and qualified AI engineers.

The positive aspects of this model include:

  • Rapid access to AI capabilities without upfront investments

  • Flexible payment for scalable AI solutions

  • Access to the expertise of a specialized AI provider

6. Build, operate, transfer (BOT)

BOT is a strategic AI outsourcing model where the technology partner builds and operates the AI system before transferring it to the client. This approach is ideal for companies looking for a phased and controlled transition to in-house AI capabilities.

The advantages of the BOT strategy include:

  • Gradual adoption of AI with minimal risk and disruptions

  • Transfer of AI knowledge and expertise to in-house teams

  • A smooth transition to full in-house ownership

For your convenience, we have summarized the key benefits and use cases for the aforementioned AI outsourcing models in the table below.

Approach Suitability Benefits

End-to-end AI outsourcing

Complex AI challenges

Single-source responsibility, access to expertise, streamlined delivery

Task-specific outsourcing

Isolated AI challenges

Cost-effectiveness, specialization, scalability

AI consulting

Lack of internal AI expertise

Strategic insights, expert guidance, risk mitigation

Dedicated development team

Long-term AI goals, continuous development

Focus, collaboration, control

Focus, collaboration, control

Flexible AI solutions

Rapid access, scalable payment, expert access

Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT)

Phased AI adoption

Gradual introduction, knowledge transfer, smooth transition

How to select the perfect AI outsourcing partner

Now that you’ve learned more about the inner workings of AI outsourcing and the scenarios in which it can be a game changer, it’s time to learn how to choose the best technology partner for your intelligent transformation project.

Step 1: Understanding your AI needs

Before looking for an artificial intelligence outsourcing partner, conduct a thorough audit of your current processes, technology infrastructure, and workforce capabilities.

Specifically, you should identify pain points within your operations, assess the available resources, and set clear and realistic business objectives that will serve as the foundation for the AI outsourcing process.

This analysis will not only guide your decision-making but also help in communicating your requirements effectively to potential partners.

Challenges to watch out for:

  • Lack of clarity on internal processes and pain points. Engage cross-functional teams to conduct a comprehensive audit. Alternatively, invite external consultants to provide an unbiased perspective.

  • Difficulty in assessing available resources accurately. Use external consultants or industry benchmarks to gain a comprehensive understanding of your processes and critical assets.

Step 2: Evaluating potential partners’ expertise

When evaluating potential AI outsourcing partners, we recommend taking a multifaceted approach. Assess their industry expertise, track record, and reputation.

Follow by examining their technological proficiency and ability to innovate and adapt.

Look for evidence of their experience managing projects of varying complexity in your industry. A partner with a proven track record in similar domains is more likely to understand and cater to your specific needs.

Challenges to watch out for:

  • Difficulty in verifying the authenticity of a partner’s track record. Request case studies and client references for a detailed assessment. Seek testimonials from trusted industry sources.

  • Limited insights into their adaptability to emerging technologies. Engage in in-depth discussions about their approach to innovation during the evaluation process. Explore the potential partner’s R&D investments and partnerships.

Step 3: Assessing cultural fit and collaboration

The success of an outsourcing partnership goes beyond technical capabilities. It also depends on effective collaboration. A seamless working relationship is fostered when both parties share a common understanding of goals, values, and working methodologies.

During this stage, it’s beneficial to consider Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory, which provides insights into how cultural differences can influence workplace dynamics.

Understanding and respecting these cultural dimensions, which range from power distance to individualism versus collectivism, will help you navigate the cultural fit with a potential AI outsourcing partner. This understanding also helps ensure that collaboration protocols, communication styles, and project management approaches align with both parties’ cultural preferences and practices.

Challenges to watch out for:

  • Overlooking cultural misalignments until reaching a later stage. Incorporate cultural fit assessments early in the evaluation process. For this, you could leverage cultural assessment tools, such as Hofstede’s theory or Trompenaars’ model of national culture differences, or collaborate with external subject-matter experts.

  • Inadequate definition of collaboration protocols, which leads to communication breakdowns. Clearly define communication channels and protocols during initial discussions. Establish regular communication checkpoints and feedback loops.

Step 4: Assessing technical capabilities

One of the most important aspects of choosing an AI outsourcing partner is determining the depth of their technical expertise.

To that end, consider their experience with artificial intelligence, relevant industry experience, and their understanding of your unique business needs. Remember that your partner should be dedicated to keeping up with the latest advancements in artificial intelligence. This will allow your AI solution to evolve with the rapidly changing technology market.

Challenges to watch out for:

  • Limited understanding of the partner’s technical expertise. Conduct technical interviews or assessments to evaluate expertise. Request demonstrations or proof of concept projects.

  • Difficulty evaluating a partner’s commitment to staying up-to-date with AI advancements. Discuss their approach to continuous learning and adaptation to technological changes. Additionally, you may inquire about their involvement in industry conferences and training programs.

Step 5: Mitigating risks

No partnership is without risk, and identifying potential pitfalls is critical. A thorough risk assessment and mitigation plan promotes smoother collaboration, reduces potential disruptions, and ensures the successful completion of AI projects.

When selecting an AI outsourcing partner, assess risks related to data security, quality assurance, project delays, and budget overruns. Discuss and establish contingency strategies to mitigate these risks effectively. Additionally, ensure legal compliance to avoid any regulatory complications during the AI outsourcing process.

Challenges to watch out for:

  • Underestimating potential risks related to data security or project delays. Engage in detailed risk assessments with the partner during negotiations. Consider third-party audits for data security.

  • Lacking sufficient contingency plans. Collaboratively develop contingency plans for identified risks before finalizing the partnership. Regularly revisit and update these plans based on evolving project dynamics.

Choosing the right technology partner is a critical decision that can shape the future of your business. By understanding your AI needs, evaluating expertise, assessing cultural fit, and mitigating risks, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals.

Why consider AI outsourcing?Top 6 approaches to AI outsourcingHow to select the perfect AI outsourcing partnerStep 1: Understanding your AI needsStep 2: Evaluating potential partners’ expertiseStep 3: Assessing cultural fit and collaborationStep 4: Assessing technical capabilitiesStep 5: Mitigating risks
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As you embark on your AI outsourcing journey, look to ITRex as your trusted AI partner. We possess a decade of expertise in artificial intelligence and remain at the forefront of emerging technologies. If you seek to stay ahead in the AI revolution, let us be the catalyst for your success. Reach out, and we’ll guide you through AI adoption with minimal risk or disruption.