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Analytics will create business value (CTO Forum)

Advanced analytics, cloud computing and the mobile web will be the technologies to watch out for in the next few years says Dr. Manish Gupta, Director IBM Research - India and Chief Technologist IBM India/SA in an email interaction with CTO Forum.

Which emerging technologies do you see playing a significant role in the next few years?

The biggest game changers in the next few years will be advanced analytics, cloud computing and mobile web. Organisations are realising the importance of analytics in creating business value. Advanced analytics will help organisations go deep into the data, analyse them and drive business value. Businesses now have the capability to take preemptive measures.

Cloud computing will be yet another game-changing technology in the coming years. It offers remarkable scalability to customers and requires little upfront investment. The use of clouds, therefore, offers tremendous advantage to enterprises which are gradually but surely leveraging the pay-per-use model extensively.

In countries like India due to low penetration of the internet as well as for socio-economic reasons traditional Web paradigms are not so meaningful. They need specific and localised information in a simple to use and easily accessible format. Moreover, most of the population does not have access to a PC for which the Web was designed. Therefore the increasingly ubiquitous mobile phones will soon be the most preferred medium for accessing the Web.

We can expect to see new mobile inter. faces and systems for the masses ranging from speech-based information and interfaces on low-end phones to intuitive graphical and pictorial interfaces on high end phones. Enterprises will increasingly use the mobile web to reach a broader set of customers, increase the productivity of their work force and to improve their processes, including supply chain and internal communications.

What are the key focus areas for IBM research in India?

IBM India Research has a balanced agenda with long-term exploratory projects and short-term industry focused projects. Our focus is on real life innovations. We want to be in a leading role in two key areas - mobile web and service delivery.These are two of our Big Bets exploratory projects with long-term and huge investments. We are leading in the Mobile Web Big Bet globally working closely with other IBM labs and also playing a critical role in the Service Quality Big Bet and services innovation in general.

The India lab is also engaged in fundamental research in several of the areas including HPC (high performance computing), information management, software technologies, IT infrastructure management and human language technologies.

A "Spoken Web" project, currently being piloted by IBM's India Research aims to take advantage of the rapid proliferation of mobile phones in emerging countries. Could you share the developments and benefits that it can provide?

Spoken Web is part of our broader Mobile Web programme, being led by IBM Research India. The technology aims to create a parallel Web over the telecom network and bring its benefits to people who do not have access to the Internet. The technology creates VoiceSites analogues to Websites and these Voice Sites are interconnected through the Hyper speech Transfer Protocol (HSTP), developed at IBM Research- India. We are currently running pilot programmes in Client environments and evaluating different options to take it to the market.

In one of the pilots run specifically for farmers, the technology has helped 42 percent of the farmers improve their yields. IBM created voice based Information Dissemination System for farmers using the novel Spoken Web platform. Farmers could post questions which could be answered by experts and other farmers.

Are we looking for a more seamless integration between cloud and mobiles?

We see the combination of mobile and cloud as one or the biggest transformational forces especially in emerging markets. With the proliferation of mobile phones we finally have information and communication technology in billions of hands. At the same time the cloud is offering the platform for both accessing and providing services without worrying about infrastructure implementation. This combination has the potential to change how Web is used today going well beyond just searching for information.

The mobile and the cloud together provides an opportunity for developing countries to leapfrog into a new model of ICT leading the creation of a Web far greater in reach and scope than the existing one. For businesses especially SMEs the cloud enables delivery of IT services in a consistent and seamless manner across a variety of end points including mobile phones, personal computers and thin clients. The range of services enabled will include desktop as a service, unified communications and social networking and a variety of business processes such as accounting and finance.

What is the progress on the Smarter Planet campaign?

Smarter Planet's is IBM's vision for applying IT to create a better world. Much of our planet's resources are being was led in that way we operate today. More than 50 percent of the food supply never reaches the consumers. Nearly 35 percent of water is wasted. Billions of liters of fuel used up by vehicles that are stuck in traffic.

A recent study by the IBM Institute' of Business Value estimates that there are inefficiencies of about $15 trillion in the world economy, of which about $4 trillion can be saved by infusing intelligence into systems. We need to find smarter ways of handling challenges across these areas.