Global consulting and services giant Deloitte has bold ambitions to lead in enterprise AI transitions, starting with a five-year, billion-dollar investment in everything from vertical-specific technology acquisitions to building personnel and capabilities ranks.
A slice of that billion dollar investment has gone toward six DGX A100 systems from Nvidia, which Deloitte will use to build expertise in GPU-accelerated machine learning for a wide range of enterprise use cases. The lessons learned on these systems will translate to deployments at some of the world’s largest companies and will be tuned to Nvidia-specific GPU architecture and software stacks.
In other words, this is a big win for Nvidia—their AI supercomputing platform becomes the de facto standard among an even larger base of enterprises since the system is the proving ground inside Deloitte’s AI research center for model building and eventual deployment.
With Nvidia as the base platform for AI innovation inside Deloitte, there is yet another advantage. “Nvidia is a hardware company. They don’t have services, they don’t necessarily work with businesses. Now they get access to our industry solutions, our executives and those relationships in the Fortune 500, and together we can go to our clients with a joint value proposition they’re unlikely to get anywhere else; the top professional services firm with the top AI firm,” Deloitte Principal and AI Strategic Growth Offering Leader, Nitin Mittal tells us.
Deloitte rides the wave of every major technology transition, developing internal expertise and spreading the word to its large base of the some of the world’s most powerful companies. Just as Nvidia would stand on its own without Deloitte developing deep expertise before fanning out to present it as the lynchpin in a vast AI strategy in a top company, so too would SAP have had robust uptake in enterprise.
What is important here is that Deloitte is one of a few of a “kingmakers” of technology platforms. They invest heavy to deeply understand the dominant platform and standardize on it internally, pushing it out to their customer base.
This has been the case with ERP systems through to vertical-specific software projects, then through the big data era, culminating now with AI—an area with unprecedented investment inside Deloitte. And here’s the thing that’s different now: the need for a consultancy with deep expertise is also unprecedented.
Deloitte is one of a few enterprise platform “kingmakers” in that they develop deep expertise in a highly productive suite of hardware and tools before fanning that knowledge out to a large client base that desperately needs a starting point and qualified people to deploy with. Being in that circle of primary platforms is a big deal; it creates and reinforces the de facto standard for hardware/software the largest enterprises (ala SAP)
With AI talent in short supply, much being soaked up by hyperscale companies, Deloitte’s role in shaping enterprise AI could be even more significant. Their relationships with top companies are deep, long, and wide and when they provide a roadmap that can beyond “where to start” but rather to application-level guidance on what to implement on which systems and how to manage it start to finish. In other words, it’s no wonder Deloitte is all-in with AI, or Nvidia for that matter. There hasn’t been a better opportunity for decades to capitalize on a complete lack of hire-able experts for one of the ultimate keys to competitive advantage.
While we just went over the hardware platform base via Nvidia (software as well with the CUDA ecosystem being at the heart of these efforts) Deloitte is seeing more than just Nvidia-accelerated AI platform consulting. They’re looking to build their own enterprise AI empire.
Of that billion-plus dollar investment over the next five years, one of the key areas other than people and capabilities on the DGX/GPU platform is in AI software acquisitions, Mittal says.
“We want to make sure we become an AI fueled professional services firm. This means new businesses and platforms and assets and investments and AI oriented acquisitions so we become a leader in this space.” He says these software investments will parallel their focus areas in smart grid, autonomous cars, defense and intelligence, and contact call centers and areas where conversational AI is reshaping operations.
Mittal adds that in his twenty-plus years at Deloitte, he’s seen a number of technology transitions come and go but the AI investment and its potential reach, both internally and for their client base (90% of the Fortune 500, according to the company) is massive and intersects with their overall focus on the converging areas of cloud, AI, and cyber. “Collectively those are the three areas we’re determined to be the top player in and we’re making a $2 billion investment in these three areas. AI is the largest segment of that collective investment.”
The Nvidia-specific “AI supercomputer” approach to large enterprise machine learning initiatives is being cultivated by 150 AI/ML experts inside Deloitte, ostensibly with CUDA expertise as well. The systems are housed at their Hermitage, Tennessee datacenter, which serves as home base for the engineers to test and develop client-specific models and deployment strategies.
While Deloitte is just one of several large consultancies, it has some of the longest, deepest reach. Standardizing on Nvidia for AI initiatives, while certainly prudent since GPUs dominate system requirements and Nvidia is the prime vendor, could be the key to quicker, greater enterprise reach for Nvidia than might have otherwise been rapidly possible.