Exclusive Interview with Rishu Sharma, Associate Research Director of IDC India – Analytics Insight



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November 10, 2021

Rishu Sharma

The world knows that Artificial Intelligence is creating a massive shift in the technology field as well as the lives of citizens across the world. The continuous emergence of AI models has successfully accelerated productivity and enhanced customer engagement in the cut-throat competitive market. Multiple industries and companies along with the government have started adopting AI models to provide freedom to employees from mundane tasks through automated services. IDC’s India Digital Transformation Opportunities services delve deeper into the software and IT services market and examine how enterprises are evolving. Rishu Sharma is IDC’s associate research director for cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) in India. She also leads the Future of Intelligence and the Future of Digital Infrastructure programs in India. She is involved in advisory assignments for IT vendors in the areas of strategy, strategic marketing, and end-user insights across technologies and industry verticals. She also advises tech buyers (CIOs and lines of business) in their business planning for them to make informed, viable, and sustainable strategic decisions on cloud and AI. In an exclusive interaction with Rishu, she shares her experience and views on digital transformation.

1. What are the key trends driving the growth in Big Data analytics/AI/Machine Learning?

• AI market size: If we look at the AI market in India, the overall market is likely to increase from US$3.1 billion in 2020 to US$7.8 billion by 2025, increasing at a five-year CAGR of 20.2%. Across the segments of hardware, software, and services, the AI software segment will dominate the market and would grow from US$2.8 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 18.1% by the end of 2025.

• Business objectives: Driven by business objectives of increasing business resilience and enhancing customer retention Indian enterprises are accelerating their AI adoption. Aside from these, enterprises are looking to gain efficiencies and productivity from their AI investments. The past couple of months have pushed Innovation amongst the top boardroom agenda and it’s not surprising to see Innovation as among the top drivers for AI investments.

• AI on cloud/on-prem: Increasingly, Indian enterprises are preferring cloud environments as their choice of environments for deploying AI applications. IDC is also witnessing edge AI processing accelerating in business considerations set.

• AI solutions: As per IDC’s AI Strategies Buyerview, 2021 survey, the top AI solutions for Indian enterprises in 2021 include conversational AI, recommendation engines, and enterprise knowledge graphs. However, when asked for their 2023 plans, enterprises stated NLP, computer vision, and Augmented intelligence as the top 3 AI solutions

• Verticals: Organizations in industries like FSI, manufacturing, government, healthcare have been at the forefront of AI adoption over the past couple of months. We are witnessing use cases vary across are experiencing a rise in the acceptance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, especially, within the broad implementation of supply chain and logistics, healthcare & diagnosis, fraud detection and investigation, supply chain and logistics, and other applications. Increased business needs to collect, process, and leverage data for real-time decisions has resulted in businesses adopting AI. AI has become a key component for digital transformation and COVID-19 has further fastened this accelerated the adoption of intelligent technologies in the Indian organizations across industries including the public sector, healthcare sector including hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies looking at AI to curtail contain the impact of the pandemic. In addition, organizations have started deploying AI solutions across business functions such as automated customer service, risk, and fraud management, IT automation, manufacturing operations, sales, and marketing operations, supply chain and logistics management, among others.

2. Where do you see growth coming in for the IT/ITES sector, what technologies do you think will gain significance in the coming years?

In the IT/ITeS industry, the demand for AI is predominantly driven by the need to improve efficiencies, productivity, and customer experience. For instance, conversational platforms/chatbots are leveraged for better customer service.  Conversational AI helps in handling the conversations with customers proactively, provides them with relevant information, helps with each touchpoint throughout the entire customer life cycle, enables closed-ended conversations, and diverts critical conversations for human intervention. AI is also leveraged for data-intensive work like data feeding, analysis, management, among others. Aside from this, Automation is another example of this sector leveraging intelligent technologies.

3. How do you think the IoT/AI and ML industry will evolve in the coming years (Predictions/ The Promise of IoT/ Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Big Data Analytics/ Machine Learning).

Per IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Artificial Intelligence 2021 Predictions – India Implications for 2021, IDC predicts some of the trends that would impact the technology buyers and suppliers in India in 2021 and beyond include:

• AI Explainability: By 2023, over 40% of consumer-focused AI decisioning systems in finance, healthcare, government, and other regulated sectors will include provisions to explain their analysis and decisions.

• AI-Powered Development: By 2025, the number of data analysts and scientists to adopt AutoML for the end-to-end machine learning pipeline from data preparation to model deployment will double.

• AIOps Adoption: By 2025, AIOps will become the new normal for IT operations, with at least 40% of large enterprises adopting AIOps solutions for automating major IT system and service management processes.

• Neuro-Symbolic AI: By 2026, 20% of all AI solutions will be closer to AGI — leveraging neuro-symbolic techniques that combine deep learning with symbolic methods to create robust humanlike decision making.

• AI Enabled Edge Computing: By 2024, 50% of enterprises will run varying levels of analytic and AI models at the edge and 30% of those edge AI applications will be accelerated by heterogeneous accelerators

4. How C-suite executives can leverage data to deliver business value to their organizations?

Leveraging data to be able to understand the entire ecosystem of customers, partners, and employees is among the top priorities for Indian CXOs. Data is the elixir on which businesses decide on their journey to a successful tomorrow. CXOs are leveraging analytics to understand the customer patterns and adjust their journey accordingly to be able to meet customer expectations. Aside from leveraging data for predictive analytics, it is critical for the leaders to understand the historic patterns as well to ensure that deviations can be enabled if needed. Leaders are leveraging AI for insights-driven decisions that improve efficiencies, productivity and enhance the understanding of customer behavior.

5. What are some of the challenges faced by the IT industry today, especially in the case of Cloud computing companies? (AI associated challenges only)

Some of the tops AI challenges faced by Indian enterprises include unclear business case/support from LoBs, trust, and ethics, MLOps, security, and cost. The barriers that IT face are different from the ones faced by the LoBs. For instance, per AI Strategies Buyerview, 2021 survey, the top 3 barriers faced by IT function include lack of data science expertise, taking too long to realize business benefits and lack of access to specialized hardware. For LoBs on the other hand the challenges include not enough data, lack of data infrastructure expertise, and too much data.

6. Can you shed some light on the latest employment trends in the big data and analytics industry?

IDC’s research shows that Indian organizations believe that it is imperative to accelerate and develop AI and ML skills to realize the benefits of critical technology. AI/ML, Cloud, and Data associated skills are among the top priorities for the Indian organizations and they are planning to skill/train/hire for the same to be able to achieve the technologies benefits.

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