NITI Aayog published a national strategy for Artificial Intelligence in June 2018. This heralded the push required to develop this sector in India. A clear roadmap and guidelines were published as part of the strategy. Private enterprises are already traversing the journey of Digital transformation. Most of these efforts around the transformation to provide better customer experience revolve around artificial intelligence. Indian markets are so vast and extremely diverse, that without use of technology it would be impossible to do justice to the business model. . This has led to a mushrooming culture of startups to address the ever growing requirement in the artificial intelligence sector.
A rough estimate on how big the opportunity for AI in India is detailed nicely in a report by analyticsindiamag.com sometime in 2017. They estimate the market size to be USD180Mn1 annually. We expect this market to grow exponentially over the next five years, considering India is one of the largest global R&D hub and the availability of STEM resources in abundance.
There are more than 10,000 engineering colleges in India2, churning out millions of engineers. Even if 10% specialize in computer science the resource pool is staggering. So with advances in technology like faster processors, GPU, better algorithms, combined with people puts India in a center stage for being the AI solutions provider for the world.
Some sectors will benefit with AI much sooner than others. The simple reason being availability of good clean historical data. India’s BFSI sector, in my opinion be the sector where AI/ML will impact the most and the fastest. Adoption of AI and robotic process automation, will considerably improve the banking experience, especially when the Govt. is critical about financial inclusion. Large compute clusters running analytics help in ensuring the loans are disbursed much faster and also protect banks interest by running a customer 360 analysis. Similarly RPA allows automation of repetitive tasks to speed up the entire process and reduce human errors due to fatigue.
The other sector which also has social impact is the healthcare. Usage of AI to improve reach, and accuracy at a fraction of the cost will be the key driving factor in providing healthcare services to a country of our size. Today we are seeing a vibrant startup ecosystem in India that’s focusing on how to improve the reach and timely service to remote villages. Early cancer detection using radiology images or detection and scheduling of cataract surgery are some the successful deployment of AI. The critical success factor in healthcare clearly is in achieving 100% true negative while deploying AI solutions.
IT/ITES industry according to me would be the most disrupted. With most of the repetitive tasks automated, the adoption of Artificial intelligence will lead to a social demographic change, especially with replacement of lots of repetitive manual jobs. While on one hand it shows immediate threat, on the other hand it provides a great opportunity to upskill and handle more analytical jobs in the long term. Programs like Skill India further advances the cause of reskilling for the digital era.
The Most common question asked is will AI lead to large scale Job Loss with machines doing what humans today do. Research from McKinsey report quite the opposite. On the whole, job growth will outpace job loss as per a 2017 global study with 1,000 large companies3.
Accenture identified three primary job categories that will arise as a result of AI innovations. According to the study’s authors — trainers, or humans who will teach AI systems how to perform tasks, will make it easier for users to interact with bots by teaching them how to answer questions with compassion and empathy. Explainers, then, will bridge the gap between technologists and business leaders by demystifying the complexity of AI at the executive level. Finally, sustainers, who will help ensure that AI systems are running as intended, will focus on the ethics and compliance of the algorithms. (Other job titles from the study include: smart-machine interaction modelers, context designers, and automation ethicists.)
Overall, my gut feeling is that adoption of artificial intelligence in India is at an inflection point and ready for a hockey stick growth. All the signs, right from the availability of technology, resources and Govt. push is driving this in the right direction.
1. Based on Analytics India Magazine’s Study – State of Artificial Intelligence in India 2017, October 2017.
2. Based on List of AICTE approved Institutes for the academic year 2017-2018.
3. Based on McKinsey Global Institute’s study, Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions in a Time of Automation, December 2017
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