Emerging Technologies – a boon or a bane?
2018 was a transformative year from a technological innovation perspective. Development of new technologies and its advancement marked the year, which also saw many organizations adopting new and emerging technologies that possibly would not have been the case a few years ago. 2019 will continue on this path of transformation while expanding even more in regards to adoption of cutting edge immersive technologies.
The impact of emerging technologies has fallen upon every company today, whether small or big. With emerging technologies we refer to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), human-computer interface, augmented reality and the Internet of Things (IoT) that are readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable, and/or controllable via the internet.
Leading global business services provider Aegis has directed most of its focus towards RPA and chat-bots and less on AI and machine learning, but the latter will shoot up in another one and a half years of time.
“Emerging technologies, especially chat-bots, artificial intelligence and machine learning are creating a huge wave,” says Ajay Bakshi, Chief Digital Officer & SVP, AEGIS BPO & KPO. “In our industry chat-bot and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are the flavour of the season and both are picking up really well. AI and machine learning might take another two years to mature,as for them to be successful, these technologies would require a huge amount of data point, mostly structured sets of big data. So, as an organization and as a part ofthis industry, both RPA and chat-bot are the two hot things on which we are currently aligned and are working on the concept,” he reiterates.
UST Software (India) is presently adopting artificial intelligence, while simultaneously also working on aviation technology, using drones, etc. UST Software is also working with SAP partners on ERP.
“Technology is growing so fast that without adopting emerging technologies there is no scope for organizations. There seems to be no life without technologies like robotics, aviation, artificial intelligence today. These technologies are what determine the growth of an organization,” says Ganesh Ramachandra, General Manager, UST Software (India).
However, what it brings in depends on ROI. “There should be return on investment and that is how we plan for execution,” asserts Ganesh.
Undoubtedly artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and natural language understanding are the technologies which find used cases in any business scenario. But there are challenges as well - earlier whenever there used to be any business problem on hand, companies will be looking for solutions or technologies to address it. But now the technology is available with unlimited potentials and people are forced to identify the business cases. So CIOs are today forced to find out what problems could be there and then for every problem think of a solution.
"My take as a CIO is, I should position myself in the central of the company. The ‘I’ in CIO not only stands for information, but a CIO has to ideate, initiate, innovate and implement. He becomes the main person in the organization. This CIO position is so important that whenever somebody thinks of technology, he/she thinks of the CIO only. If there is a business problem they think the CIO as a solution giver or a problem solver. So the CIO has to rise to a level and tackle every problem and support the business, instead of giving in to technologies. There would be days when he will be part of the board room,” observes Balsubramanian N, Enterprise IT Applications Governance Support Security & Digital Disruption Professional - Cloudnine Group of Hospitals.
Again, earlier people used to talk of IT as a cost centre but now it is seen as a profit centre. The cost is saved and the additional margin is realized because of cost saving, efficiency in the processes, capturing newer markets and increasing the business top line.All these things contribute for the return of whatever meagre investment is made in the IT sector.
According to Raghunath Thiyagarajan, Director - Infrastructure & Cloud Service, Trigent Software Inc., there is a requirement for more solution architect and cloud professionals, who are designing the whole infrastructure recommended for this huge datacenter. We would be looking for automation for the datacenter,designing in terms of what is recommended or what particular solution the datacenter needs to get the right infrastructure in place. “Instead of relying on human intervention, we look forward to artificial intelligence for a particular industry that can be made automated. There are some levels of automation but probably it should have more intelligence into it,” he says.
He further says that the new technologies would be more into cloud security in terms of artificial intelligence which he would implement in his organization, and is much required at this point of time, while also implementing voice based automation. “The Manufacturing industry is 70-80% automated; butone day all industries will be automated as AI and Machine Learning is growing up to the intelligence of the human nature.I would also like to concentrate into the SMB market which is struggling to bring in the right technologies into their business field. Customized AI is currently not affordable by SMB market sectors, so we are looking for developing it in terms of bringing AI and ML into the SMB segment,” he states.
“Emerging technologies do have opportunities for companies expanding their business whether it is in India or globally,” says Krishna M S, Head - IT, Toradex Systems (India). “But we need better connectivity. Also the earlier firewalls would not help, so we need something more resilient and powerful with more features and also cost effective.”
He further continues, “Recently we had installed a cloud based spam filter called ProofPoint. Next year we will be going for UTMs.Our plan is to invest more on technologies which are future proof that would give us more value.Usually we talk about five years, as anything we invested in should get us our money back in five years.”
“Emerging technologies from a digital transformation perspective plays a very important and significant role in the healthcare industry. To be on the next level we have to completely leverage all of the technologies as a propriety of online business,” says Girish Kulkarni, CIO - Cytech Care Hospital.
Cytech Care Hospital is working on newer technologies around AI and natural language processing. Lot of work is happening around NLP for the organization at this point of time, with AI to Robotics and non-invasive surgeries going into that space.“Some of these technologies we have demonstrated and are deploying it in a large scale in one of the largest government hospitals in the country. In a situation where you have shortage of trained and skilled man power, these are the technologies which will make you deliver care, easily and seamlessly without too much dependency on human intervention,” says Girish.
Cytech Care Hospital is working closely with newer providers. “The new age companies who are ranked the best in the newer technology spaces are also absolutely important for us. They bring in newer thoughts, newer ideas in terms of bringing in a very marked change in the way we have been delivering health care to operations,” says Girish.
The market is very disruptive and things are changing at a very rapid pace; accordingly customers have to change themselves in the same manner. For instance Ather has a smart electric scooter - by smart,it means a lot of things which define that space. “Going forward in 2025, things will be more connected and we have to be ready and prepare for the same. So this means that the platforms which are there have to be much more robust and scaled up to cater to the needs of our consumers. In future we will find technology vehicles plying on the road, like electric and connected vehicles. So we should have infrastructure to support it. It is not just the IT infrastructure I am talking about here but a power infrastructure that will have enough power grids to support that kind of a growth,” says Raman Pillai, D.G.M - IT, Ather Energy.
The concept of both private and hybrid cloud will co-exist, as companies cannot survive just in a private cloud environment. Customers need to have a mixture of public and private cloud and so they have to choose the hybrid cloud technology in order to have a stable infrastructure on premise and a scalable infrastructure on cloud.
“If we keep petabytes of data, it is not possible to do the BI or AI on top of the data on a large scale. So for instance if we use a big query to churn that petabyte of data that can give you results in a few minutes and not in few days. If you plan to do the same on a loop tester it might take 2/3 days’ time. And this is why we choose to go hybrid in nature,” explains Raman.
There is no doubt that emerging technologies like AI, ML and geopositioning are a boon to the society. But at the same time we need to understand how much of it we can use or can be in our control as a user. An organization would want to utilize all of these technologies to improve customers’ satisfaction and delight, because at the end of the day if a customer is happy then the organization is also happy. But the right usage of that technology also needs to be checked so that it is not misused.
“We are adopting AI and ML, because over a period of time if we learn that there is a problem that has tendency to vertically or horizontally scale up, then I do need artificial intelligence and machine learning to address that,” says Rashmi R Kumar, VP Sales Strategy, Systech Services.“So that the machines start understanding the pattern and at the same time starts the remediation. It is like if the technology can help me know what my health will be in next 10 years,I will work it out now. I would like to use emerging technology to ensure customer delight and ensure that the technology I am offering will give peace of mind to the business owner,” he further says.
Systech Servicesis also using new technologies like hyper convergence where it is converging complete network storage in order to deliver one stop solution to the customers.
“AI and IoT are the bedrock of Industry 4.0,” says Pravanjan Choudhury CTO, Capillary Technologies.“Emerging Technologies like AI, AR/VR, and IoT (Internet of Things) are opening up new product avenues for Capillary. For instance, our InstoreVision product suite is used to gather offline store insight. The data is then used by brands to build an indulging customer experience. Technologies like deep learning and AI capable hardware platforms enable us to build and deploy AI at scale in stores, which are the key customer touch points. Building new solutions have become easier and less resource intensive with a lot of building blocks being readily available.”
AI and IoT based products are the latest additions to Capillary’s existing product portfolio. Deep Learning, Audio and Image processing, Big Data processing, DevOps and Systems are also some of the roles it has added in the last 2 years. There is a continuous adoption on emerging Tech in DevOps as well as big-data stack.It hires industry experts and also cross-train existing resources on emerging technologies.
The challenges it faces are whether the emerging tech will cater to all kind of use cases in future during the life cycle of the product and whether it will remain cost-effective. It is also difficult to find experts in these new areas.
“A typical approach would be, is to build PoC that will validate the use cases and at the same time, build capability/skill internally to sustain the productization,” he says.
And this is why most products are built on use case scenario for Capillary Technologies and are generally iterative in nature. Once it builds the concept of a product pipeline, it performs an Exploratory Research to get a Proof of Concept (PoC). Post which, it iterates and improvises on the same. “For example, in our AI products, there are some AI models which we custom build, some which we reuse and for a few, we use existing cloud APIs. This has led to faster development for our newer products which we try out with our customers. In fact, we have made a great inroad in deploying InstoreVision product with our existing CRM customers,” Pravanjan says.
To sum up
There is no doubt that emerging technologies are bringing more and more opportunities, whether it is into business, technology or in security. Security as a concept have been talked about for last 20 years. All these things had been theoretically discussed but now with the evolution of advanced security technologies, CIOs are experiencing it in a practical sense. Similarly businesses can be done in an unimaginable level through technology today.