Cloud is a platform for agile innovation, says Shailesh Agarwal, Chief Strategy Officer, IBM India/SA

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New Delhi | Published: September 17, 2018 4:30:13 AM

In India, we have many projects and we believe 2018 is the year of of full scale production of Blockchain projects.

Shailesh Agarwal, chief strategy officer, IBM India/South Asia

Recently, IBM announced that the Rajasthan government is using IBM Cloud to host its key applications such as e-Mitra and Bhamashah Yojana which is helping them be more agile, transparent and ultimately make citizen benefits even more seamless. Many private sector clients are also choosing IBM Cloud because it’s the gateway to innovations such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things and even Quantum. “Cloud business now accounts for 23% of IBM revenue, up from 10% four years ago,” Shailesh Agarwal, chief strategy officer, IBM India/South Asia tells Sudhir Chowdhry in an interview. Excerpts:

What are the major trends you see in India with respect to cloud?
Today, cloud is seen not just a storage solution but also as a platform for agile innovation. IBM’s cloud strategy is grounded in helping securely bridge clients’ workloads and data to the cloud, no matter where they start on their journey. The goal is to offer businesses choice in all the ways they are using the cloud today—on premise, private, public cloud and multiple clouds. Cloud business now accounts for 23% of IBM revenue, up from 10% four years ago. For 2018, our India focus would be on IBM Cloud Private. IBM Cloud is AI ready, which can collect, organise and analyse data in smarter ways.

Today, our current output of data is 2.5 bronco bytes which is equivalent to 90 years of HD video. How is IBM helping businesses mine this data?
IBM, with its best-in-class AI capabilities is helping business across sectors, including Bank of Baroda, SBI, Bombay Stock Exchange, Titan, Apollo Hospitals, etc., to unearth insights from data, predict future trends, and drive action with these insights.

More importantly, we believe that our clients’ data is their own, and that government data policies should be fair and equitable and prioritise openness. Second, we believe clients, not governments, should determine where their data is stored and how it is processed. IBM, therefore, supports digital trade agreements that enable cross-border flow of data and that limit data localisation requirements.

Third, we are working with policymakers to modernise education systems to emphasise in-demand skills rather than specific academic degrees.

What is IBM’s view of the developer and start-up ecosystems and engagement strategy?
Developers and start-ups are at the centre of evolving trends in the technology world. India is the second largest developer community with 3.5 million developers after the US, and is expected to bridge that gap in a few years.

Last year we had released about a 100 open source-based reusable ‘code patterns’ and many ‘How-to’ and ‘Do it yourself’ articles to help developers in their day-to-day work. The whole premise of our developer advocacy engagement is based on three aspects—code, content and community. In May, IBM announced the Call for Code initiative—an annual, global initiative that welcomes developers to apply IBM technologies across cloud, data, AI and Blockchain to address societal problems. This year, Call for Code focuses on the development of innovative solutions that reduce the number of people affected by natural disasters. In India, we expect teams to come up with solutions for floods, earthquakes, drought, tsunami, cyclones and landslides. The Startup with IBM Programme (earlier known as Global Entrepreneur Programme) provides start-ups access to up to $1,20,000 of technology usage credits, leading experts and enterprise-grade cloud, data, IoT, blockchain and AI technologies.

What are the key initiatives undertaken by IBM in the Blockchain space?
The IBM Blockchain Platform is the industry’s first enterprise-grade blockchain environment designed to support live production networks. It is a flexible software-as-a-service offering delivered through the IBM Cloud that helps build a client’s Blockchain network and apply it to its industry.

In India, we have many projects and we believe 2018 is the year of of full scale production of Blockchain projects. We are the Blockchain partner for the trade finance consortium and the life insurance consortium. We are also working with Mahindra to develop Blockchain solution for supply chain finance. This cloud-based application, one of the first projects of its kind in India outside of traditional banking, is designed to transform supplier-to-manufacturer trade finance transactions through a permissioned distributed ledger.

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