IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) engine Watson, named after its founder Thomas J. Watson, is gaining momentum in India as businesses look to modernize their IT infrastructure backbone.
“We are seeing triple digit growth in India on the back of our data business," said Vikas Arora, vice president, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software, IBM India & South Asia.
According to research firm IDC, the worldwide AI market grew 35.6% to $28.1 billion last year with IBM taking the lead with 9.2% share of the overall market. While IBM does not share Watson’s growth separately, revenues from its “cloud and cognitive" software, which includes Watson, grew 6.4% to $5.3 billion globally for the third quarter ended September.
Within “cloud and cognitive", IBM categorises Watson under the “data and AI" group which is moving to its “second chapter" in India.
“It is about businesses moving from experimental to real mission-critical deployments at scale," Arora said.
In India, IBM is investing heavily in “multi-dimensional research capabilities" in Watson, Arora said. “A lot of the work that we are doing in agriculture, blockchain, and cognitive retail is being led by our research teams here in India."
In July this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said it will collaborate with IBM to deploy its precision agriculture solution which combines AI and weather technology to obtain and analyse farm level insights.
As part of the partnership, IBM Watson Decision Platform for agriculture will be implemented in three districts – Bhopal, Rajkot and Nanded – as a pilot study to obtain farm level weather forecast and village level soil moisture.
In the high-growth banking, financial and insurance (BFSI) sector, the State Bank of India (SBI) is using IBM’s technology to carry out deep diagnostics and advanced analytics on their data and run personalised campaigns.
Similarly, HDFC ERGO and IBM are collaborating to co-create new AI-based solutions on IBM cloud. According to IBM, its Watson Analytics service has helped Apollo Munich Health Insurance transform their infrastructure and reduce manual efforts by 80% and increase productivity by 5%.
A lot of use cases of IBM Watson originated in India before going global.
For instance, IBM India was the first to use Watson to recruit and retain employees.
“We use data extensively (through our Watson platform) in hiring, which starts from sourcing applicants to final selection," Arora said. Last year, IBM India started using Watson in an employee retention programme called “predictive retention" in two of its key divisions – services and infrastructure.
To help organisations overcome barriers to adoption of AI, IBM in February announced its “Watson Anywhere" initiative that involves scaling AI across any kind of cloud computing platform. This is to prevent vendor lock-in and start deploying AI wherever the data resides. Arora said.