by Mike Miller

Long before St. Louis had a Major League Soccer team—and longer still before World Wide Technology co-founder and CEO Jim Kavanaugh became a part-owner of St. Louis CITY SC—he was a boy tasked with maintenance work in a lot across from the future site of CITYPARK in Downtown West. Kavanaugh's father was a bricklayer and the business manager for the Bricklayers Union when it moved into the building at 2000 Market that now houses Maggie O'Brien's. While his father worked out of an office on the second floor, Kavanaugh toiled outside, pulling weeds and shoveling rocks in the parking lot. "To think that someday in the future we'd be building a state-of-the-art soccer stadium right across the street is pretty amazing and humbling," he says. That boy pulling weeds also could not have imagined what his adult self would be doing, leading a massive company that offers technology solutions for organizations around the globe. Now, World Wide Technology is betting big on artificial intelligence. Late last year, the company announced plans to invest more than $500 million in AI services for its clients. "It's an investment that we're absolutely committed to," Kavanaugh says. "I truly believe that AI is going to be the most transformational technology that mankind has ever experienced."


What can your customers expect from this push toward AI?

It will come in a number of different ways. At World Wide, we have what we call our Advanced Technology Center, which started out as an individual rack of equipment 12 to 15 years ago. It has evolved into multiple data centers and multiple buildings here in St. Louis, and there are also virtual and physical labs around the world. We're going to very aggressively build out what we call our AI proving ground, which is an innovation ecosystem that will allow us to test next-generation, generative AI capabilities. So it will involve the physical building out of these very complex technology platforms that we will have in our labs that customers can use to test what they may deploy in their data centers. There will also be capabilities that hyperscalers will use to consume and evaluate things that they may be doing in their specific cloud environment.


You've said that AI will be our most transformational technology. What are some real-world applications that could change our lives?

We're in the very early stages. Sometimes, when certain new technologies come out, there's this hype cycle that people go through. A lot of times, the hype cycle may not end up materializing to be as impactful as people thought. But I truly believe that AI will. There are two different tracks to think about when you consider how AI is being consumed today. One is the general consumers. Those are individuals like you and I. We might go to ChatGPT or these other behemoths like Microsoft Azure or Google Gemini and use them more like a search engine. These large language models are going to allow you to go out and write prompts, which are similar to a search question you might enter into Google. But they're going to give you much deeper and richer information.


What are some examples of deeper, richer information?

You'll get much more than data. It may provide you with content.


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