Emerging technologies such as cognitive, Internet of Things and big data have the potential to transform every industry across the world. The potential of these technologies are just being realised and future benefit could prove to be exponential with the underlying bedrock for them being the cloud, says Sriram Raghavan, Director, IBM Research—India & CTO, IBM India/South Asia in an interview with PP Thimmaya.
How do you see the interplay among the technologies of cloud, cognitive and big data?
Our strategy is very clear. There are three foundations to our overall strategy with the first being cognitive. Given the presence of big data, analytics and digitalisation of physical world, cognitive is the only meaningful way in which we can deal with the data flood. There can be acquisition or collections of data but cognitive is the destination where one can get value. The second foundation is the industry focus that we have and also focus on cross-sectors which gives us the ability to spot insights. Cloud is the third pillar, which is the way we will deliver all our services.
What role do you envisage for cognitive?
Cognitive builds upon big data, analytics and is, in some respect, a resurfacing of artificial intelligence (AI). I think maturity in our big data infrastructure to work with data allows us to take old AI aspiration to new data insights. Cognitive is ready for that leap. Here, we see it in three layers. The bottom most being our delivery mechanism which is the cloud. The second layer is horizontal cognitive services and lastly comes the industry spaces.
Which sectors are the early adopters of cognitive?
The healthcare sector is a sector that can be transformed. The second will be the financial services where we are creating custom cognitive platform. Start-ups, developers, partners will be able to build the apps on this industry-specific cognitive platform. The third area is Internet of Things (IOT), which is not one industry but a cluster of industries. The other sectors where we see early adoption are automotive, industrial, manufacturing and electronics. In IBM Labs, we are working in the areas of smart building and agricultural sector.
How is cloud transforming the delivery of technology services?
The primary message of cloud is the consumability of the developers. We should consume cognitive services on the cloud while we continue to improve our horizontal capability. Cloud will continue to evolve. Our cognitive services is able to execute and perform very well on the cloud. The IBM cloud is also very agile.
What has been the role of IBM Labs India?
In our labs in India, our approach is two pronged. We are part of the integrated research strategy globally. In the local context we use clients cases and work on global delivery mechanism. The main focus areas of our research labs in India are: cognitive, IoT and blockchain. In each of these areas we do core technology development and provide our own industry leads. Some of the key industry focus areas for us in India are trade logistics, finance, healthcare, where blockchain can play a great role.
Is IoT a big opportunity area?
I think IoT is an area waiting to explode, especially in a country like India with many interesting cases. For example, in the area of agriculture we can use IoT which when combined with other publicly available data through the cloud can give great insights on the different parameters of soil in a parcel of land. This can be something which can be scaled to a larger area. Besides agriculture, the other core focus area for us is education.
What has been the response of start-ups to IBM’s cognitive platforms?
We have start-ups using our Watson cognitive platform. This gives them a tremendous opportunity to work in the ecosystem of IBM. There is a great deal of interest among start-ups here in the area of cognitive and blockchain. There is a great opportunity, if we can empower start-ups to solve the uniquely Indian problems.