Mumbai: Betting big on India’s growth story, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) chairman, president and CEO Ginni Rometty said that the country will play a crucial role in building its cognitive technology business and scaling up the platform which, she believes, has the potential to disrupt every industry.

“India will play a really important role in cognitive. Our India research labs are already working on natural language processing, machine learning and have actually done a lot of work in building cognitive systems in finance tech support," Rometty said at IBM’s THINK Forum held in Mumbai on Thursday.

The US-headquartered technology firm, which introduced its cognitive computer system Watson in India last year, said cognitive technology will not only be disruptive but transformative for many industries in the future.

“After big data, mobility, cloud… this (cognitive system) is the fourth evolution and is the most disruptive. As the world embraces digital, it will also embrace cognitive. We will be able to solve problems which humanity has never solved," she said.

In a bid to reinvent itself as a provider of intelligent cloud computing and data analytics, IBM is sharpening its focus on the cognitive power of Watson, its supercomputing system that even beat Jeopardy players in 2011, to provide small and big companies the intelligence to make smart business decisions by quickly analysing mountains of unstructured data generated daily.

“What is next for IBM is to actually become cognitive company by itself. We will do that and we are doing that in many different ways. We do technical support for lots of things we are selling, we have already brought Watson to help our people who are doing technical support by scaling expertise and this has helped reduce the time to find problems by 50%," Rometty said.

For instance, the company is already using the Watson system to hire people. She said the system has helped the company in predicting who will stay with it for longer. Similarly, the company aims to incorporate or build cognitive intelligence in every product it makes.

“We have been putting Watson in almost everything we make. We are starting to pull this as a silver thread for all of our processes, in the products we make, our security products. For us, cognitive will be the basis of everything," she added.

IBM expects to work in four major areas—healthcare, improving air quality, financial services and education—when it comes to providing its cognitive technology services in India.

In December last year, the company partnered with the Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC), a think tank of the Delhi government, to study the link between traffic patterns and the quality of air. The company will provide insights that will help the government take relevant decisions to improve the air quality in the city.

It has also partnered with Bengaluru-based Manipal Hospitals where the latter is using ‘Watson for Oncology’ to help its doctors in offering better cancer care and treatment.

IBM India managing director Vanitha Narayanan, in an interview to Mint on 2 December 2015, said the company has 28 Watson APIs (application programming interfaces) and would have about 50 by the end of this year.

“India has all the capability and has the raw talent that can push it to the next level. It has the size, it’s huge and has ability to learn… but the issue is how to scale up. But growth is your friend and growth does help to propel in many ways," said Rometty at the event attended by many of the company’s customers in India.

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