Australia’s AI and ML push is being driven by the financial services, government and retail industries, which use it as an analytics tool, according to VMware, one of the largest suppliers of the underlying technology.

The three industries each need to deliver services at scale, and are increasingly relying on artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse troves of data, VMware regional executives told Which-50 during the company’s global event last week. 

At the event, VMware revealed it has partnered with hardware manufacturer NVIDIA on a new AI platform for enterprises aimed at reducing compute bottlenecks and effectively opening up access to AI applications.

VMware APJ, ‎VP and CTO, Bruce Davie says organisations using AI and ML are typically looking to extract insights out of large data sets.

“If you’ve got complex data sets and you’d like to try to get insights from those data sets, then you’re a candidate for doing something with machine learning,” Davies told Which-50 on a call with media on Thursday.

“Retail is a good example because if you can figure what is it that makes a customer likely to come back and shop a second time, for example, by studying their habits, then that’s going to be very useful insight.

“So there’s definitely a lot of appetite for that kind of thing [in Australia]. Really it’s the next version of big data analytics.”

VMware says locally financial services organisations are as “aggressive” as ever in using technology, including using AI and ML for trading and fraud detection, both applications that rely on data analysis at tremendous scale.

Governments in Australia are using AI and ML to deliver services to large parts of the population.

Says Vmware SVP and GM APJ Duncan Hewett, “Government [is using AI] around citizen services. Again because you’re dealing with large numbers of people, and how to modernise applications to deliver those citizen services efficiently.”

AI resources

While Australia has had limited direct government investment in AI and research often points to a lack of local skills, Davies says compared to its APJ regional neighbours Australia is “quite high up the maturity scale”. 

In the last three to four years access AI and M has opened up, according to Davies, moving from something that required either dedicated hardware or a public cloud. 

“I think what we’re seeing now is there’s the opportunity to do {AI and ML] in a more easily consumable way. So you don’t have a dedicated silo that just does machine learning, you can have some GPUs in your data centre that can be shared amongst different teams. Effectively, doing with the GPUs what we’ve done for decades withx86 so making them available as virtual resources.”

According to Davies, that access is at the heart of the NVIDIA platform announcement, along with the addition of NVIDIA software libraries to the VMware cloud environment.

“I think [the NVIDIA platform] is generally making it easier to consume those things.So it goes from being something that’s very specialised and dedicated to a single time to something that’s more sort of broadly available across an organisation.”

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