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Business News/ Companies / Former Tech Mahindra CEO Gurnani, IndiGo's Rahul Bhatia launch AI venture

Former Tech Mahindra CEO Gurnani, IndiGo's Rahul Bhatia launch AI venture

The new firm, Aionos, will cater to clients in the tourism, transport, logistics and hospitality sectors.

CP Gurnani, former Tech Mahindra CEO. (Photo: Mint)Premium
CP Gurnani, former Tech Mahindra CEO. (Photo: Mint)

New Delhi: Former Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani and Rahul Bhatia, managing director of IndiGo’s parent InterGlobe Enterprises, on Tuesday launched a joint venture that will offer AI services, including generative AI, to clients in the travel, transportation, logistics and hospitality (TTLH) industry.

While the exact investment ratio was not disclosed, the new firm, Aionos, is majority-owned by IndiGo’s parent firm, InterGlobe Enterprises. The announcement comes at a time software firms have been claiming a growing revenue from their artificial intelligence operations.

“We’re plagued by several issues (in the aviation industry), and we need change in how we deal with data and internal systems. It’s ironic that aircraft are at the cutting edge of technology, but what goes to get the aircraft to fly is still very archaic. Technology is the bedrock of an aviation business, and if we can make a large step change in this, the value it brings to our company is enormous. That’s why we wanted to get into this space," Bhatia told Mint in an interview.

Gurnani, who stepped down as chief executive and managing director of India’s fifth-largest IT services firm Tech Mahindra on 19 December last year, said that the company is working with the likes of Amazon and Microsoft to source their large language models (LLMs) for AI operations in the TTLH industry. At the same time, the company is also developing its own LLM.

“We’re talking to smaller, dedicated AI firms, as well as hyperscalers such as Amazon and Microsoft, and are also writing our own LLM by setting up a dedicated foundry service for the clients," Gurnani said, adding that development of Aionos’ own LLMs catering to the hospitality and logistics industry is presently being done out of a development hub in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. “In the near term, we’ll expand it to Hyderabad and Chennai," he added.

The launch of Aionos comes at a time top IT services firms, which typically lead capability building, training and outsourcing projects across India’s technology industry, have made large claims about rising business from AI operations. K Krithivasan, chief executive of Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest IT firm, said on 12 April that the company has earned $900 million in revenue from AI deals, a figure that is expected to grow.

Without stating a figure, Salil Parekh, CEO and MD of Infosys, claimed that the company has developed “industry-leading capability in AI and generative AI initiatives", which, he claimed, is leading to the company being able to bag increasing quantums of deals.

Gurnani, however, claimed that the market lacks specialized service providers in specific verticals. “Many of us in the industry have looked at IT services as managed services and project work. That comprises the bulk of the revenue of an IT firm. What we’re trying to do is bring a tech platform into the centre that not only understands the target vertical, but is also very narrow but very deep. Such specialized expertise would differentiate our offerings, which give better service orientation to the individual needs of the sector," he added.

To be sure, a mid-cap IT services firm such as Coforge, which crossed $1 billion in annual revenue in FY23, has also been developing AI capabilities that will squarely target the hospitality and logistics industry, which is a key growth vertical for the firm.

Going forward, Gurnani said that Aionos will start generating revenue within the first half of FY25. “If we don’t start getting revenue in the next five months, there’s something wrong. You develop competencies and a roadmap for a reason, and we have to start generating revenue within the next five months," he added.

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Shouvik Das
Shouvik Das is a science, space and technology reporter for Mint and TechCircle. In his previous stints, he worked at publications such as CNN-News18 and Outlook Business. He has also reported on consumer technology and the automobile sector.
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Published: 23 Apr 2024, 08:09 PM IST
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