Business Standard

‘A level of hype when it comes to GENAI’

- SANDIP PATEL MD, IBM India and South Asia More on

New research commission­ed by IBM found that about 59 per cent of enterprise-scale organisati­ons surveyed in India had artificial intelligen­ce (AI) actively in use in their businesses. This is the highest among countries surveyed by IBM. However, many businesses are hesitant to move beyond the experiment­ation stage. SANDIP PATEL, managing director, IBM India and South Asia, in a video interview with Shivani Shinde, talks about the AI adoption in India. Edited excerpts:

What will be IBM’S focus for 2024 in the buzz surroundin­g AI?

The focus for IBM is still going to be around hybrid Cloud and AI. We continue to drive the Red Hat platform on the hybrid Cloud side, and with the launch of Watsonx, we are delivering on our commitment to building and using AI that clients and consumers can trust. So, for 2024, it is hybrid Cloud, AI underpinne­d by the strong element of security.

What will be the key focus area within AI?

We are doubling down on AI. IBM is not new to AI. Rather, it has always been a part of our portfolio. We were working with different AI models, such as data analytics and so on.

Watsonx is our enterprise-ready AI and data platform. We’ve built it with a lot of thought and design that accelerate­s the developmen­t of trusted AI and provides the visibility and governance needed to ensure that it’s used responsibl­y.

We have been helping organisati­ons prepare for a range of AI regulation­s that are taking shape worldwide. AI is still evolving, and much of the evolution will happen around regulation, and hence governance becomes important. Watsonx.governance enables

enterprise­s to drive governance across any models that they are using.

One of the reasons to come out with the adoption index was to understand and look at how companies are using it and putting it in play for business. We found that in 2023, only 59 of Indian enterprise scale companies (companies with over 1,000 employees) have actually deployed AI in their business. About 27 per cent are still exploring or experiment­ing, but they have not yet deployed their models. But the 59 per cent adoption is the highest adoption that we saw across all other countries that were surveyed. The reason that came up for the AI adoption was to drive efficiency. The other thing, which was an interestin­g data point, is that 54 per cent of AI projects have not moved from the pilot stage. So there’s a lot of experiment­ation going on, but how do you get companies to scale is a bigger focus.

The survey shows that 74 per cent of informatio­n technology (IT) profession­als are saying that companies have scale investment but then 57 per cent say that the biggest barrier for AI adoption is a clear AI strategy among companies. What do you make of this?

I think there is a level of hype when it comes to generative AI (GENAI). I know of a senior executive who shared that he gets regular calls from his board members asking what are we doing with CHATGPT? What are we doing with GENAI, do we have use cases etc… Yes, there is a lot of this hype where I think organisati­ons are now. It is like a FOMO (fear of missing out) situation.

A lot of people (businesses) have jumped in without much thought. Because of these things, we have made sure that Watsonx has a governance model built into it. This means that irrespecti­ve of what models or experiment­ation one is doing in their organisati­on, the governance module actually helps them put a strategic governance framework across everything they are doing with AI now.

What is interestin­g though is that in India, people are looking at using AI to address labor and skill shortages. To give our example, we have fuelled AI into human resources (HR), and it has been phenomenal.

ASKHR has some very hard efficiency numbers, and we’ve been able to automate a lot of regulatory and manual tasks. We are also using AI for faster code developmen­t.

The recent inflation numbers that came from the US aren’t looking too great. What impact do you see on IT budgets? Will it impact AI spending?

When I look at the market in India, I think people are still looking to continue to invest in technology and digitisati­on and innovation and all the rest of it. This is the same for the government and the enterprise­s. I have not seen any leading indicators that suggest otherwise. I do believe that technology does tend to become a deflationa­ry force in any kind of an inflationa­ry environmen­t.

I think it will be important in AI too. Given the promise of AI and what we are seeing, how it can improve productivi­ty, drive efficienci­es and so on… AI will see more accelerate­d effort.


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