(From left) moderator and senior associate editor Leslie D’Monte; K.S. Viswanathan, vice-president, Nasscom; Mahesh Makhija, partner, EY India; Praveen Hari, fellow, iSPIRT, and Jayanth Kolla, founder, Convergence Catalyst
(From left) moderator and senior associate editor Leslie D’Monte; K.S. Viswanathan, vice-president, Nasscom; Mahesh Makhija, partner, EY India; Praveen Hari, fellow, iSPIRT, and Jayanth Kolla, founder, Convergence Catalyst

‘Challenge is structuring data from a chaotic heap’

  • In the future, the problem with offshoring is going to be how we deal with data. Do we have the potential to deal with data theft?
  • In future, the problem with offshoring is going to be how we deal with data

NEW DELHI : At the Mint Digital Innovation Summit, consultants from the industry sat down to discuss how emerging technologies can benefit companies and where things stand today. The fireside chat included K.S. Viswanathan, vice-president, industry, Nasscom, Mahesh Makhija, partner and leader, emerging technology, EY India, Praveen Hari, fellow, iSPIRT, and Jayanth Kolla, founder and partner, Convergence Catalyst. It was moderated by Leslie D’Monte, senior associate editor, Mint. Edited excerpts.

Can you highlight any two technologies that have caught your attention and from which companies are benefiting immediately?

Viswanathan: My picks are data analytics and cybersecurity. In future, the problem with offshoring is going to be how we deal with data. Do we have capacity to deal with data privacy and information security?

Makhija: I believe the one that has been most impactful is deep learning, taking large data sets and deriving hypothesis from it. The second one I would want to talk about is the digital twin technology.

Hari: In India, we are going to see a lot of data coming in and the biggest thing is connectivity. Today, most of India stays in places where connectivity is still a problem and I think that will improve dramatically with 5G. A villager should be able to send a data file to Mumbai or Chennai and I think that is going to have far more impact than any other technology.

Kolla: I also think deep learning is huge. About 80% of Netflix’s shows are the ones recommended by its recommendation engine. Similarly, 35% of all of Amazon’s sales are those its algorithms recommend. In the industrial sector, I would pick the Internet of Things (IoT).

What are your thoughts on challenges such as dirty and unstructured data when you’re looking at these newer technologies?

Viswanathan: We have plenty of data, but is data annotation and labelling done? Possibly not. Structuring the data from an unstructured heap is the biggest challenge.

Makhija: We talk about the challenges of data quality, but there’s just tons and tons of information in different parts of our clients’ organisation that hasn’t even been looked at in a sensible fashion. With the compute power we have today, it’s becoming easy to break down that challenge. You don’t need to do AI. Even simple statistical models can give you huge insights.

Hari: They have a lending program in China for most of their merchants. They follow the policy of 310—three minutes or less for documentation, one minute for decision making and zero delay for transferring a loan to the merchant. How you use data is very important and what products and services you can offer on top of the data becomes very important.

Kolla: Of the total data being generated only 1% is being fed to the AI machine, which is a challenge. The second challenge is in conversational AI products, which require different point of views, from ethicists, psychologists, sociologists, and more.

How effective is blockchain in India?

Makhija: The government is starting to mandate distributed ledger architecture in many projects. Is blockchain here to stay? I’m pretty sure it is, but there are still issues to be worked through.

Hari: My way of looking at it is that we’re still at phase one and blockchain may be a phase two kind-of-solution. If some governments are using it, good for them. But we have far more fundamental problems to be solved and we don’t need blockchain for that. That’s my view. However, I’m also a little removed from the blockchain world.

Viswanathan: We discovered close to about 30 different blockchain startups and, surprisingly, many of them were working in the land records applications. So, it’s happening, but you may not have enough evangelists yet. Should we be talking about it? Definitely.

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