CGI Leverages AI Expertise for GenAI Success

In early March, TBR met with CGI’s Diane Gutiw and Frederic Miskawi, both VPs of Global AI Enablement, for a discussion about CGI’s evolving generative AI (GenAI) capabilities and offerings, as well as the executives’ views of the changing market around digital transformation, IT services and consulting, and AI overall. The following reflects both that discussion and TBR’s ongoing research into CGI and peers across the IT services and broader technology ecosystem.

What CGI Brings to the GenAI Game: Innovation and Experience in AI

In describing the current market for IT services and technology-enabled solutions, Gutiw and Miskawi noted that clients emerged from 2023’s GenAI hype cycle feeling overwhelmed by proofs of concept (PoCs). Many emerging technology-centric engagements stalled at the PoC and pilot stages, stymied by challenges around data, change management and uncertain (or slow) ROI.


As a result, enterprise IT leadership, already saddled with a vested interest in maintaining relationships with current vendors (think: Amazon Web Services [Nasdaq: AMZN], Microsoft [Nasdaq: MSFT] and others), relies on current vendors and partners for guidance, even in an emerging area like GenAI. This echoes TBR’s findings in our December 2023 AI & GenAI Market Landscape.


Gutiw and Miskawi pointed out that in the current market, CGI (NYSE: GIB) can lean on two long-standing strengths: its culture of innovation rooted in governance and methodology, and its expertise and experience with AI, which predates the emergence of GenAI and the subsequent hype cycle. Bringing specificity to assertions about innovation, Gutiw and Miskawi described CGI’s thinking around “digital triplets.”


As Gutiw explained, CGI is “taking our digital twins that already exist and extending it by adding the generative AI and explainable AI as the third sibling.” In TBR’s view, this approach to harnessing technology in which clients have already invested — and in which CGI has proven expertise — and multiplying the benefits by leveraging GenAI and explainable AI should be a successful strategy for CGI to expand its footprint at existing clients and solidify its reputation as an innovative leader in the AI market.


Reinforcing CGI’s strength around established AI capabilities and scale, Miskawi added that CGI is seeing a multi-model ecosystem where, depending on the nature of the industry that you’re in, the nature of even the group within the enterprise that you’re working with, you have different types of needs, different types of fine-tuning that CGI is doing, mixing specialized AI models, which are more the legacy AI models, with the generative AI models where we’re seeing LLMs [large language models] interacting with the data inside categorization models … that ecosystem is evolving in front of our eyes and accelerating.”


Gutiw and Miskawi explained that while CGI’s GenAI practice resides within the company’s Data practice, CGI is undertaking GenAI efforts globally. This is in contrast to the proximity model that differentiates CGI from other IT services vendors. Gutiw said CGI understood that GenAI could not be stuck in one silo or isolated by client and that the technology would bring the most value internally and to clients only through a global approach to accelerating processes and disseminating knowledge around AI.


Bolstering this approach, CGI is focused on more than simply GenAI and is innovating on and delivering Frontier AI, according to Gutiw and Miskawi. In TBR’s view, 2023’s relentless hype around GenAI probably makes IT services and technology buyers more likely to look beyond the exciting new trends and instead find credibility in an approach that leverages established AI expertise.

TBR principal analysts discuss how the GenAI disruption is similar to prior disruptions, as well as how it is different, and which technology vendors are best positioned to win and why. Watch now by clicking the image below.

Customer Zero and Partnering in a Complex Ecosystem

The CGI GenAI leaders also touched on two aspects of the current IT services and technology ecosystem that TBR believes are critical to vendors’ success: customer zero and technology agnosticism. TBR’s research has shown that the most resonant GenAI use cases start with the vendor testing the solution itself, serving as customer zero for the services or products before bringing them to clients.


Gutiw described CGI’s take on this idea, noting that the company innovates, develops and tests GenAI-enabled solutions internally, like other vendors, but ensures clients understand that CGI views this investment as a way to save clients’ money: “We always talk about fail fast. We’re doing that on our dime because we would not fail fast on your dime.” Gutiw described a solution CGI developed for responding to RFPs, called BidGenAI, which pulls from the company’s own database of wins and losses, shortening the time needed to pull together a (hopefully winning) response.


While requiring customizations to fit a client’s specific data environment, industry needs and compliance requirements, the BidGenAI tool undoubtedly can be applied across a wide range of enterprises. While not the first or only IT services vendor using the customer-zero approach (think: Accenture [NYSE: ACN] and IBM [NYSE: IBM]), CGI was explicit about the financial benefits clients will realize when CGI foots the innovation — the fail fast — bill.


The second aspect, technology agnosticism, has long been a feature of the consulting and IT services market, in which vendors shy away from aligning too closely with any one technology supplier for fear of alienating clients looking for the best-fit solution, not just the tech solution that most benefits the IT services vendor’s or consultancy’s bottom line.


Post-pandemic, TBR has seen a pronounced shift among some leading IT services vendors and consultancies toward much closer and more publicly embraced partnerships. Exclusivity remains rare, but something akin to most favored nation status or first among equals has permeated the IT services ecosystem. In this evolving landscape, CGI’s AI leaders described the company’s approach as “technology flexible” and noted strategic partners in the AI space include IBM, Microsoft, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), SAP (NYSE: SAP), Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) and Amazon Web Services, as well as a slew of smaller technology players.


In TBR’s view, CGI’s emphasis on flexibility addresses the need to work with a range of technology partners to meet clients where they are while assuring clients CGI has invested fully in the training and capacity-building necessary for a robust AI practice.

Embracing Transformation While Rooted in Solving Business Problems

Two aspects of CGI’s approach to GenAI struck TBR as significant in understanding the company’s likely path forward and potentially its position within the IT services and GenAI market.


First, Miskawi, speaking about GenAI as understood and deployed within CGI itself, said simply, “It is transformative.” One could understand that to be obvious after more than a year of relentless hype. Or one could hear echoes of the famous “Mad Men” line, “It is toasted,” and consider CGI is embracing how much change will be necessitated by adopting GenAI across its own enterprise. Every other IT services vendor could do the same, but it remains to be seen if they can do it with the same welcoming embrace as CGI.


Second, TBR noted that during the entire discussion, Gutiw and Miskawi remained focused on business outcomes — for CGI and for its clients — a mindset and approach frequently ascribed to but rarely done. At one point, Gutiw noted that “it’s really understanding how we can use [CGI’s own capabilities and partner technologies] safely and how we can help solve business problems leveraging the technology.”


CGI’s challenge, of course, is ensuring that leaders across the company understand how to stay focused on clients’ business problems and how to recognize when a business challenge could be addressed through a GenAI-enabled solution.

CGI and GenAI: Investments, Approaches and Designs

In addition to the wide-ranging discussion, CGI’s GenAI leaders shared specifics about the company’s GenAI practice, including:


  • Over 10,000 professionals globally engaged on Data Analytics and Data Engineering projects with clients
  • CGI’s AI Advisory Services include AI Enterprise Governance OCM, Data and AI journey design and implementation, AI Business Consulting services with AI strategy road maps, and Responsible Use of AI frameworks.
  • CGI’s enterprise AI investments have focused on operational excellence; training and teaming; foundational capabilities around data, platforms and processes; and solution/use-case development.
  • CGI has invested in a Responsible AI Framework and an AI Strategy Framework to guide itself and its clients through the complexities of AI governance and risk.


In TBR’s 1H24 CGI Federal Vendor Profile, we noted that “CGI Federal’s parent company announced in July 2023 it would invest $1 billion over the next three years to fuel AI-based growth. CGI’s forthcoming outlays will fund the expansion of its AI-based advisory capabilities — particularly around the company’s Responsible Use of AI framework, which would resonate well with federal agencies. CGI Federal is facing a shifting competitive landscape in federal digital consulting, as General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) (NYSE: GD) is standing up a new advisory practice that will push adoption of its AI-related digital accelerators and ManTech is leveraging its 3Q23 acquisition of Definitive Logic Corp. to launch an AI-focused Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Solutions Practice.”


In addition, TBR notes that CGI Federal won a deal with the U.S. Department of State in October 2023 to provide on-site processing functions for consular services in Australia, Fiji, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, leveraging the CGI Atlas360 solution’s AI capabilities to help enhance the visa application process.