BFSI, telecommunications, healthcare, FMCG and retail are some of the sectors in India that are witnessing high adoption of IBM Watson.
By Srinath Srinivasan
The buzz around Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at an all-time high. Firms offering enterprise solutions and consumer products are trying to get to the core of defining AI – that is, to get to a point where their AI platforms are in a way a mimicry of the human brain and easily the best in the professions they are employed.
BFSI, telecommunications, healthcare, FMCG and retail are some of the sectors in India that are witnessing high adoption of IBM Watson. “Indian companies have mandated their CIOs for effective adoption of cognitive just as much as the focus is on cloud,” says Anil Bhasker, Business Unit Leader, Analytics Platform-India/South Asia, IBM. “Companies in sectors that are focussed on personalisation for their customers are quicker to adopt AI to gain edge over their competition.” According to him, some of the earlier intangible return on investment (ROIs) are now being realised by the companies that use Watson – customer and employee satisfaction, brand equity and competitive intelligence. Today, Bestseller (parent company of Jack&Jones and Vera Moda), SBI, HDFC Ergo General Insurance and Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission have deployed Watson in their respective sectors.
Again, GE Healthcare’s Edison platform aims to leverage its network of machines, applications and make it a great resource for developers to build their own applications which can be seamlessly integrated into the workflows of doctors and radiologists. With a possibility of acquiring startups, the company, in Bengaluru, recently announced its plan to engage with startups globally with its EdisonX programme. Amit Phadnis, chief digital officer, GE Healthcare, says, “It makes sense to choose and encourage startups who specialise in certain domain by opening up our platform. With time we will have cohorts of these startups and a variety of solutions.” Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration cleared an AI powered X-Ray system built by GE Healthcare, which uses Edison platform that’s integrated into it. When deployed it could reduce the time to detect a collapsed lung from eight hours to as little as 15 minutes. Some of this groundbreaking work has been co-developed in its Bengaluru research facility by Indian talent.
In the edu-tech space, Byju’s acquired the US based edu-games maker, Osmo for $120 million at the beginning of 2019. This investment goes into reaching one goal – to create the perfect teacher, according to Pramod Sharma, president – Technology & Product, at Byju’s. With its recent product collaboration with Disney, Byju’s has been exploring newer cognitive technologies like computer vision and machine learning. “When we collect data points we not only aim to personalise learning for kids. The bigger aim is to make kids learn how to learn. This is where we think an underlying AI system can help,” says Sharma, who is also the founder of Osmo. AI also helps in engagement, especially when learning today has become a matter of choice. With personalised assessment and comprehensive content, it enables students to come back to learn better as against a teacher at school who goes by a curriculum and pre-set methods of solving problems. With an active user base of 40 million and a paid user base of 2.8 million in India,Byju’s aims to leverage this base to enable deep tech penetration.
The road to becoming a perfect professional – be it a teacher, physician, retailer or a stylist is lined with several challenges. “There is limited access to right skills which are hard to recruit and retain. Also, the companies do not have a medium to long term vision/strategy for adoption of these technologies,” says Vishwesh Padmanabhan, partner and head, Digital Consulting, KPMG in India. Also, there is a rapid and continuous evolution happening with these technologies. Along with it, there is no standard shrink wrap method of adoption and each customer has to formulate and evolve his own strategy for adoption. All of this makes the entry barrier bigger with time, says Padmanabhan. “Finally, there needs to be more effort on value conscious use cases for the SMB segment when the talk about AI platforms come up,” he concludes.