For years, Amazon has been using machine learning and deep learning to make product recommendations, sharpen internal algorithms, and boost supply chain, forecasting, and capacity planning. Now the e-commerce giant is providing the customers access to its rich pool of machine learning experts. It has announced a new collaboration and education program, Amazon ML Solutions Lab, to connect machine learning experts from across Amazon with AWS customers.
The idea is to accelerate the application of machine learning within the organizations. And the program could help AWS partners develop new machine learning-enabled features, products, and processes.
The Amazon ML Solutions Lab combines hands-on educational workshops with brainstorming sessions to help customers “work backwards” from business challenges, and then go step-by-step through the process of developing machine learning-based products.
Amazon machine learning experts will help customers to prepare data, build and train models, and put models into production. At the end of the programme, customers will be able to take what they learned through the process and use it elsewhere in their organisation.
“By combining the expertise of the best machine learning scientist and practitioners at Amazon with the deep business knowledge of our customers, the Amazon ML Solutions Lab will help customers get up to speed on machine learning quickly, and start putting machine learning to work inside their organizations,” says Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Amazon AI.
Taking customers through the full process of implementing machine learning, Amazon ML Solutions Lab programs will combine educational workshops and boot camps, advisory professional services, and hands-on help building custom models ready for deployment using customers’ own data.
The engagements could range from weeks to months depending on the nature of the solution.
The program’s format is flexible – customers can participate at a dedicated facility at AWS headquarters in Seattle, or Amazon can send machine learning model developers to a customer’s site.
For organizations who already have data prepared for machine learning, AWS offers the ML Solutions Lab Express. This four-week intensive program starts with a boot camp hosted at Amazon, and is followed by three weeks of intensive problem-solving and machine learning model building with Amazon machine learning experts.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post (owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) is using the program to build models in areas such as comment moderation, keyword tagging, and headline generation. Johnson & Johnson and the World Bank Group are the other two customers joining in.
“We recently reached out to the Amazon ML Solutions Lab to collaborate with our data scientists on a deep learning initiative,” said Jesse Heap, Senior IT Manager at Janssen Inc. (the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson), adding that Amazon’s machine learning experts have been training data scientists at Janssen on applying deep learning to pharma-related use cases.
Whereas the World Bank Group said it’s using the program “to leverage machine learning in our mission to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.”
As the big cloud providers compete to provide AI expertise to companies that can’t afford to duplicate the advanced machine-learning research, Amazon ML Solutions Lab is a rather smart move from the AWS. The educational initiative could well be a long-term business strategy.