IBM Think Forum 2018

The Age of Artificial Intelligence – Can AI Really Transform the Future of Businesses?

There is a wave of disruption across industries, and businesses are increasingly turning to Artificial Intelligence technologies, to spark the kind of innovation that was once thought unimaginable.

Think about this – today, there are millions of smartphones, internet users, connected devices, and the number is just increasing by the hour. There is a historic shift in the way digital is becoming a part of our lives – from digital payments, to the way we shop or even interact with each other. Fueled by technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain – this new era of digitization is producing data which is outstripping human capacity to understand the meaning and value hidden within that data.

Data, in all forms, is expanding as a resource to be utilized. Industries and professions are exploring several new possibilities and the potential value of this data is boundless. The next wave of technology – Artificial Intelligence – is already helping us make sense of the deluge of data out there, providing systems that are able to adapt and learn.

Once the preserve of science fiction, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has now become ubiquitous. From transforming healthcare to improving public safety, from enhancing the quality of education to bringing us into a world of connected devices- Artificial Intelligence is helping businesses reinvent and rethink.

A Gartner report predicts that AI will create 2 million net new jobs by 2025. Advances in virtual assistants and deep learning will foster adoption of artificial intelligence, according to the market research firm.

As one of the technology pioneers that helped establish the industry, IBM has been exploring AI and Machine Learning technologies for close to a decade with the launch of Watson in 2011. Little did the world know that the technology would very soon be touching more than one billion lives across the world?

Today, early adopters are using AI to position themselves as innovators and those that haven’t yet leveraged AI - are missing out on insights and opportunities that could help transform their businesses. According to a study published by the IBM’s Institute of Business Value in 2017 named ‘Fast Start in Cognitive Innovation’:

88% of outperformers expect cognitive computing to play an important role in their organizations' future - IBM

47% of surveyed CEOs said innovation will be their most important day-to-day business activity within 3 years - IBM

46% of outperformers have adopted cognitive technologies versus 11% of underperforming peers - IBM

1. Customer Engagement – AI is changing the way marketers, commerce and supply chain professionals engage customers. Essentially, advancements in technology are transforming customer service interactions. IBM’s Watson AI is leading the way with technology that helps clients extract value from their data. It delivers personalized experiences at every step of the customer journey. As customers seek greater connectivity and interaction, they are producing massive amounts of data about their behaviors and preferences. Businesses are increasingly leveraging AI to make sense out of this data, to make the customer experience more seamless and gain a competitive edge.

2. Education – AI is transforming the learning experience through personalization. IBM Watson is bringing education into the cognitive era. Its cognitive solutions help educators gain insights into the learning styles, preferences, and aptitude of every student. The results are holistic learning paths, for every learner, through their lifelong learning journey.

3. Financial Services - Cognitive systems can deliver unprecedented personalized support to financial services customers in a way that fundamentally changes the experience of the brand - and can also improve enterprise-wide visibility into regulatory and internal compliance controls. Adding Watson’s cognitive capabilities allows clients to go beyond traditional rules-based policy and demographic views to a deeper understanding of customer profitability, preferences and lifecycle needs so that they can offer new, more personalized offerings and experiences.

4. Health - The adoption of AI in healthcare is on the rise and solving a variety of problems for patients, hospitals and the healthcare industry. Watson is the only AI technology tackling a wide range of the world’s biggest healthcare challenges including cancer, diabetes, drug discovery and more. In oncology, Watson is at work supporting cancer care in more than 150 hospitals in 11 countries, and a large, growing body of evidence supports the use of Watson in healthcare. WinterGreen Research estimates the global healthcare decision support market alone will increase to more than $200 billion by 2019 as a result of new cognitive computing technologies.

5. Internet of Things (IoT) – We live in a world of interconnected devices. Wearable devices, environmental sensors, machinery in factories, components in a vehicle or devices in homes and buildings can all be connected to deliver insights and drive transformation. The Watson IoT Platform helps clients harness the full potential of IoT.

With all this and more, AI in on the path to transform the way we live and work. Organizations have just begun to scratch the surface of its capabilities.

A question which businesses are increasingly asking themselves is - what can enterprises do to tap into AI’s full potential? What steps can leaders take to accelerate its benefits?

Answering all of this and more would be IBM’s Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty who will host the THINK Forum 2018. Scheduled to take place in Mumbai on Feb. 13 at the St. Regis Hotel, Ginni along with and other senior IBM leaders will share - how they are reacting to these disruptions and how IBM’s clients are taking advantage of new technologies to gain advantage and become the disruptors

Three engaging sessions will discuss how CEOs are addressing the challenge, the characteristics of the Cognitive Enterprise, and IBM’s Innovation Outlook, as well as a forward-looking view from IBM Research that supports the company’s investments. Other key speakers include industry veterans such as; Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, State Bank of India, Vishant Vora, Director – Technology, Vodafone and Anup Purohit, Chief Information Office, YES Bank to name a few.

To register for the THINK Forum, please click here

Published in Live Mint on Fri, Feb 02 2018

Join us for IBM Code Day in India – Tanmay Bakshi

Tanmay Bakshi, World’s youngest Watson programmer and neural network architect, discusses the upcoming 2018 IBM Code Day in Bangalore, India.

Join us in Bangalore February 14 for a day of commitment to the Code – Cloud, AI, Data, Blockchain, IoT, Quantum computing and much, much more. Learn how to apply IBM’s differentiated approach to technology, gain hands-on experience, network with technology experts, and prove your expertise by getting certified!

Can’t make it in person? No worries, join us virtually: Register (live broadcast).

Women Leadership

More women should realise their potential to start their own ventures, says IBM’s Shalini Kapoor

If the naysayers had their way, Shalini Kapoor would never have become an engineer. Growing up at a time where women were told that they were more ‘naturally suited to being doctors’, Shalini, who is Director Watson IoT (Internet of Things) and Education at IBM India, says her love for maths and science drove her to appear for the engineering entrance exam, which she passed with flying colours. Despite not knowing much about computer science, her love for challenges made her determined to pursue the subject.

What finally tilted the balance in her favour was a professor telling her father that students of Computer Science (which she had opted for) sat in air-conditioned rooms, and not on the shop floor. However, it would be another year before she saw her first computer.

Today, she leads engineering, support and services teams that are driving the architecture of new IoT solutions for ecosystem partners including IBM's Global System Integrators, and the development of new IoT Solutions and apps.

In a career that spans over 17 years at IBM, Shalini, who also holds a Masters in Information Management from S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, has worked in multiple capacities. Starting as a pre-sales architect, she was tasked with designing software solutions for customers.

“I was based out of Mumbai where I worked with multiple clients in the banking industry . It was a great exposure as the city is the banking hub. I then moved to Chennai as my husband was transferred. Through IBM, I started working with Global System Integrators like TCS, Wipro, Infosys and Cognizant. That’s when I realised the critical role architects play along with systems integrators in recommending technical solutions to global clients,” says Shalini.

She tirelessly worked to set up a new mission of Global System Integrators, and within five to six years, they became key influencers for deals across all industry sectors. Along the way, she became a mother to two boys, and optimized her maternity breaks to prepare for IBM certifications to become the first woman Senior Certified Architect in IBM India.

Evolving with the times

After 10 years at IBM, Shalini moved to a completely new area – research. “IBM Research was a completely different experience. Here, we were not just conceptualising, it was the stage that preceded that, when we were seeding thoughts on what technology will be needed by various products and services in the future. It was a very exciting journey for me. After completing two years in research where I focused on anticipating the needs and future initiatives for emerging markets, I started my initial work on IoT.”

She later moved to the India Software Labs team where she could implement those ideas. “I was one of the first few people in this space, and had studied customer requirements. So I could help define what products they would need,” she says.

It was also a time when she started working with several device and ecosystem partners and the end solutions started taking some shape.

Rewriting the recipe for success
One of the key innovations Shalini has pioneered is the concept of IoT recipes. “IoT involves connecting many devices and there are so many heterogeneous protocols, firmware and applications on one device itself, and you are expected to connect to all of them. We were creating an IoT platform and the challenge was understanding how to harmonise the entire market and ensure that we connect different components to each other. I founded the concept of IoT recipes (a developer-friendly mechanism of integrating devices, gateways, applications, and platforms to Watson IoT platform on IBM Bluemix) and made it Open Source, so that any developer across the world interested in connecting the device could download it from Git Hub (a web-based hosting service for version control mostly used for computer code.) and use it.” The momentum has grown and IBM developerworks now host close to 800+ recipes. . “We also provided client libraries which made the whole path easy for a developer. There has been a lot of interest from within the ecosystem. Today, when clients say they have a set of devices, and ask how easy it would be to connect them, we tell them it takes less than two to three days and that they can even do it themselves,” she says.

Smarter education for a truly digital India
One of the areas where Shalini would like to see growth is in education, and Watson Education is investing a lot in this space. “We are using Watson technologies to transform education and make it more personalised."

They also work with several startups which are playing a greater role in education and the growth of IoT. “There is a great need for innovative products that can hit the market fast. There are a few cloud platforms that exist, but how do you apply them to the domain, be it in medicine or agiculture? There is so much scope. According to industry estimates the largest number of startups are in the IoT space in India. There is also a lot happening in the education space and Watson is aiding that. You can scale to x, but if you want to scale to 10x, you need cognitive tutors, and that is what we provide."

The evolving demographics of technology
She says that there are more women in technology today than when she first joined. “It’s a funnel effect as there are more women graduating. In my time, we were only 25 women in a batch of 150, which is not a bad number. But things are different now. Today, it’s nearly 50-50. But once women enter the workforce, organisations must support their growth at various stages. IBM does this, and offers so much flexibility. It’s not just about the perks you give, but the culture you create. The biases are still there, but you have to repeatedly do gender sensitisation to reinforce a conducive culture.”

As a member of the Chamber of Indian Industry’s (CII) IoT core working group, Shalini works with industry leaders on designing India’s IoT policies. She says she has seen that while there are several women who are influencing decisions at CII, the numbers are fewer compared to the men.

The trillion-dollar journey with IoT and IBM
With our economy growing rapidly, there is a greater need than ever for connectivity for us to grow into a trillion-dollar digital economy. "With cities getting smarter, the demands on the infrastructure are increasing and technology is key to keep up the pace. That’s where IoT comes in, and the potential is huge. For IBM, this is a huge opportunity. The India market is growing well for us and cognitive technologies are going to percolate across the board," she says.

As an advisor to NASSCOM’s IoT startup hub where she advises and mentors several startups, she wishes she would see more women starting their own ventures as the economy opens up. "We see a lot of people coming in to pitch to us, and I don’t see a lot of women there. I don’t think it’s about taking risks, but about women not realising their potential."

Striking a balance
Shalini also works with underprivileged school children and has founded an NGO, Ankurit Foundation. In 2014, they organised Escape Velocity, a first-of-its-kind fair for school children where over 3,000 children got to try technologies hands-on. The effort was supported and funded by companies such as IBM, Dell, Microsoft Research, Xerox Research, TATA Steel and Cisco. “This is the best time to spark that interest in technology in children. You stimulate that curiosity and let them see first-hand how things happen,” she says.

She spends all her free time with her kids. A runner, and someone who enjoys yoga, Shalini recently started training again in Kathak after a not so fruitful interlude as a child. She even writes skits for children for their annual community events…and all this when she is not helping build the future, one connected device at a time.