India's efforts to set up a national centre on artificial intelligence (AI) reflect the country's ambition to accelerate its tech prowess akin to how China shaped the AI dialogue on the global stage. Finance minister Piyush Goyal's push for embracing AI fits into the government's vision to democratise newer technologies, which could be game-changers for creating societal impact. "India has become the second largest hub of startups. A national programme on AI has been envisaged by the government. This should be catalysed by the national centre for artificial intelligence as a hub, along with other centres of excellence," Goyal said on Friday.
Late last year I described how the US was losing the technology arms race, particularly as it applies to artificial intelligence (AI) and China. The US is competing in the FINTECH arms race and is struggling here as well. FINTECH methods, tools and techniques include cryptocurrency, blockchain, insurtech, smart contracts, Regtech, robo-advisors, cybersecurity, open banking and underbanked services. But three of these are foundational to FINTECH adoption: artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and cryptocurrency. Let's look at these three and how well (or badly) countries are faring in the FINTECH arms race as measured by their investments in, and adoption of, these three FINTECH technology baskets, as well as their investments in the readiness of their national digital infrastructures.
Data is most valuable when it's in the hands of business users. Challenged to stay ahead of the massive changes that are disrupting the marketplace, businesses are turning the vast amounts of data distributed across their enterprise into insights and outcomes to drive material return on investment (ROI). Bengaluru-based Teknoleum Solutions is one such firm that highlights the strategic utility of data to gain real-time insights and boost efficiencies in an increasingly data-driven oil and gas sector. It has developed an innovative cloud-based Internet of Things solution for connected solar farms, called PV2, which leverages the power of SAP HANA to increase solar photovoltaic plant output and decrease operations and maintenance costs. "We are a team of SAP product development experts.
We are seemingly joined by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan (their brand ambassador) during our visit to the BigBasket Offices to interview Subramaniam Mani, their Analytics Head. He believes that the major difference between the software and AI waves is that although India was slow to adopt software service as compared to America, this time around with the AI wave, adoption will be much faster and only slightly behind the leading countries. "This is the second wave. The software wave was 30 years ago. Folks in India realized that they've been able to scale software and I think AI / ML is an extension of software development." While software was often taught through books and in classrooms exclusively, many of the latest artificial intelligence approaches are available to learn online – along with huge suites of open-source tools (from scikit-learn to TensorFlow and beyond). Going in, we knew that one of the key advantages for India would, in fact, be the very IT and ITeS sectors which will make it easy for Indian tech providers to transition into AI services, given that well-developed ecosystems have evolved over the past 25 years in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad.
In 2013, Khadim Batti, 41, was a small entrepreneur staring at a big problem. He and a colleague from Huawei, Vara Kumar Namburu, had founded Whatfix, a startup that helped enterprises build and improve product usage for customers. Using clever and interactive walkthroughs, their solution was able to improve adoption and usage significantly. "We saw a big market in the US," says Batti. But for the first-generation cofounders with little exposure to the US, cracking that market proved a challenge. "We had no idea how to get there," he says.