To sustain and flourish in today’s cut throat competitive world, businesses are now relying on data and analytics and even more so on predictive analytics, where the enterprises are able to preempt problems and fix them before they even arise. “Big Data and analytics capabilities are now necessary to stay on par with competitors or required to outpace them. Businesses have started realising the value of data analytics which is the reason for analytics becoming central to a client’s business today,” says Sriram Rajan, executive director, Analytics Business Unit, IBM India & South Asia, in a recent interaction with Sudhir Chowdhary. Excerpts:
How do you see the uptake of analytics in India?
Digitisation, Internet of Things, mobile, and cloud have disrupted the way technology is dispensed, thereby changing the business models across industry verticals globally, and in India. This shift has empowered businesses to be far more pointed in pricing their products and services, micro-segmenting their customers, increasing and managing revenues, learning in real time what customers are talking about their brands, assisting authorities in being responsive to their citizens. Analytics makes all this possible, and we are witnessing all of this in India. Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative will further invigorate analytics adoption. India is fast moving from a mobile first, to perhaps a mobile only country. Therefore, the analytics uptake will be such that the solutions are made available in cloud and mobile first.
Are there new industries that are opening up for analytics?
Organisations in virtually every industry are tapping into the power of data to achieve far more than anyone thought possible even just a few years ago. Our clients are no longer content to simply derive operational and transactional insights; leading companies are using data to enhance business strategy and create entirely new business models that fuel growth by disrupting the status quo. Organisations are harnessing the power of unprecedented data from various sources than ever before, including people, places and the Internet of Things. The role of IT industry is now shifting from that of an enabler to a strategic partner.
Some of the significant steps in IBM’s analytics journey includes acquiring and building a strong Information Integration and Governance suite of software; our SPSS acquisition that helped us build predictive capabilities—text, data; our acquisition of TNF (The Now Factory) which helped position IBM as an end-to-end analytic player in the telco space; our i2 acquisition to help provide an end-to-end frame work and solution for counter fraud management; Cloudant for NoSQL; Big Insights and streams for Hadoop; partnership with Twitter and Facebook; and our recently launched solutions (Predictive Customer Intelligence and Predictive Maintenance Quality) with pre-built industry specific data models that will help jump start a client’s analytic journey in their industry.
Why do you think that importance of data analytics is growing in recent months?
Powerful disruptions have occurred within the global marketplace. Long-standing business practices and interactions—particularly between the business and IT functions—have fundamentally changed. In a recent IBM study, we found that a majority of organisations are embracing these marketplace disruptions as opportunities, intensifying their adoption of big data and analytics technologies. According to 95% of the 1,226 respondents surveyed, Big Data and analytics capabilities are now necessary to stay on par with competitors or required to outpace them. Analytics is central to every differentiated service or customer experience.
How important is the Indian market for you as far as analytics is concerned?
The Indian market is very crucial and a big focus for IBM. The market offers us an opportunity to assist clients in infusing scale, innovation, develop differentiated business and delivery models, and the great opportunity to play our part in the Digital India initiative. We are equally invigorated to support the startup ecosystem with our solutions and offerings. To support our clients we are putting a lot of emphasis here through R&D centre—Research Labs in New Delhi as well as dedicated labs in Bangalore and Pune—to develop first-of-a-kind solutions/ frameworks.
Any recent big wins and implementations in India?
We have some of the biggest implementations across sectors. In telecom, we work with three of the biggest operators in the country. When it comes to banking and micro-finance sector we work with some of the biggest names. For example, IndusInd Bank has also leveraged IBM’s Big Data analytics insights to connect customers with contextual information on the go to deepen customer relationships. Microfinance major Janalakshmi Financial Services is using IBM Analytics to ramp-up operations and expansion of services for the urban unbanked population of the country. Ujjivan Financial Services is also leveraging IBM’s Predictive Customer Intelligence to improve customer loyalty and mitigate risk.
Apart from these, DLF, for its high end shopping mall in New Delhi—DLF Promenade, has deployed an innovative mobile-phone based solution. It performs real-time analytics to convert data gathered from shopper’s movements in the mall to extend sales deals to shoppers via the app, based on footfall heat maps.
Tell us about IBM’s unique positioning and analytics offerings and how is it different from that of competition?
IBM brings together its global knowledge from 50,000 engagements, industry expertise, predictive analytics and innovations such as cognitive computing together in packaged solutions that can transform an organisation’s core business imperatives by industry and domain. These solutions include pre-built industry specific content, KPIs and dashboards for line-of-business. IBM has the broadest and deepest range of products and solutions to support a client in their analytic journey.
What is the future of analytics? Tell us something about IBM Watson.
The future of analytics and impact to organisations is tied to the changing nature of data and how value is extracted from it. In recent years, the IBM Research and IBM Analytics teams have been helping clients to work through the implications and gain value from large volumes and variety both structured (databases) and unstructured (video, tweets, sensor data etc).
Watson is the first commercially available cognitive computing capability, representing a new era in computing.
Watson analyses high volumes of data and processes information more like a human than a computer—by understanding natural language, generating hypotheses based on evidence, and learning as it goes.
Since this triumph, IBM has advanced Watson’s capabilities and made it available via the cloud. Watson now powers new consumer and enterprise services in the health care, financial services, retail and education markets. IBM has also opened the Watson platform to developers and entrepreneurs, enabling them to build and bring to market their own powered by Watson applications for a variety of industries.