technology

From finance to healthcare, India is adopting automation at a global pace: ET-ILC members


By Nikita Rana

As per a McKinsey report, automation is transforming economies and the workforce – in fact, 60% of all occupations have at least 30% of their activities that can be automated. And in addition to that there are jobs that are only possible with AI and ML because they’re beyond human capabilities. During the global Covid-19 pandemic, when medical research had to be accelerated or algorithms had to be tweaked remotely to carry out banking transactions, every industry has relied on automation. Data science platforms can analyze over trillion data points in real-time and provide actionable solutions – whether it is related to data management, predictive maintenance or building new products.

Automation in business is inevitable and Covid-19 has only accelerated it across the globe. Industrial robots are making instant decisions and companies like Qualcomm with their robotics platforms like RB3 and RB5 are making it possible. Autonomous cars, augmented reality, virtual reality, drones that can scan large chemical vehicles to spot potential problems – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride and XR platforms can make all that happen.

“The innovations and technologies that Qualcomm brings to the globe, we now bring to India, concurrently. India is at that moment where the desire, the push, the policy, the inclination, the demand from consumers, is all pushing us in the right direction. There are examples of technology implementation in India which are probably far better adopted and commercially deployed, than what you would get to see in developed countries like Japan or North America” says Rajen Vagadia, Vice President & President, Qualcomm India & SAARC. The company has its second largest base in India and has been building it for the last 26 years.

The application of automation solutions has been across sectors and the monetary benefits have been enormous. For example, Netapp’s ONTAP AI, which is run in partnership with NVIDIA, is an integrated architecture that leverages the power of supercomputing, state of the art storage and CISCO networking to provide a platform that can be used by any industry. One example of its application in the medical industry is the work that has been able to happen in genome sequencing. The first genome project took a decade and cost billions of dollars. Now, with Netapp and NVIDIA’s technology, the same work has been cut down to hours without compromising on security or accuracy.

If one were to compare the level of automation Indian firms have achieved across sectors, India is not far behind advanced economies especially in sectors like finance. “ In order to achieve digital transformation, agenda AI powered digital disruption is a must. BFSI is far ahead with respect to the digital transformation agenda however other industries are catching up. The second leading industry is healthcare and their use of AI in predictive analysis and diagnosis.

The third area we are seeing growth is in making bots AI powered. This will help them cut costs on customer service but also improve customer experience. Manufacturing and retail sectors are also looking into it,” says Sanjay Rohatgi, Senior VP and General Manager APAC, NetApp.

In fact during the last few months, many companies have relied on their India centres for seamless operations. Even through the lockdown, they had to provide some services without disruption. For example, insurance firms still had to collect documents from customers. Banks had to accommodate the change made with regard to the new guidelines on moratoriums and execute transactions. The US for instance announced the Small Business Assistance Program where small businesses were given loans and the banks had to disperse credit according to that. For all this, these companies relied on the cognitive automation products of a firm like Automation Anywhere through which bots were able to execute a large amount of data processing, validations and transactions. Firms were able to rely on their India centres because 90-95% of the work was automated and the applications could be modified and triggered remotely.

Milan Sheth, Executive Vice President, India Middle-East and Africa, Automation Anywhere says, “ We just finished our half-yearly review and saw that a large number of companies have started using our solutions. Most of them were companies that were on the fence and have started implementing our services in a phased manner. We are seeing an interest from customers adopting bots undertaking process discovery, intelligent data capture and embracing cloud native bots. What we saw was that the utilisation of our software went through the roof. A company that was at 60% utilisation has touched 95-98% utilisation.”

Even for the auto sector, which even pre-Covid-19 was going through a slump, has not reduced its R&D spends. Manufacturers across the globe continue to invest in autonomous vehicles. Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division which relies on the auto sector for a large part of its revenue and serves more than 3000 customers in the ADAS space (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) says the development of autonomous vehicles in India needs to be faster. Overall, for India to develop as a manufacturing hub, automation is essential in all sectors because labour costs can longer be an effective differentiator.

“Earlier when manufacturing shifted from developed countries to developing countries like China and Vietnam it was for cost effective labour. Now labour costs in these countries are also going up. With many of these autonomous factories you can create manufacturing centres in developed countries itself. If I can manufacture parts with lesser people, why should Germany offshore manufacturing to any of these developing countries per say. It is important for us to get into this technology and show that we are competitive not only in terms of reducing costs but also increasing quality and we realise that we need to automate these things,” says Sridhar Dharmarajan, EVP & MD – Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, India and MSC Software Indo-Pacific.

Another critical element, especially in the post Covid-19 era is connectivity. And when it comes to upgrading legacy networks without a drastic change in hardware infrastructure, automation plays a key role. For telecom or internet connectivity, the capability to reroute traffic without disruption can happen only if you have a complex web of networks so that you are able to reroute the traffic without downtime. An investment in adaptive networks will lead to lower outages, less complaints and better experience.

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For Ciena, a networking systems, services, and software company, which has a large market share in India, the automation side of the business – a division called Blue Planet – is key.

“Intelligent automation enables our customers to build networks that can adapt by using artificial intelligence to predict and proactively avoid up to 95% of network outages. This approach enables our customers to significantly reduce service disruptions and improve customer experiences,” says Rajesh Nambiar, Chairman and President, Ciena India.

The National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence highlights that AI is expected to boost India’s annual growth rate by 1.3% by 2035 and India will become the AI garage of the world, exporting social sector products to other emerging markets. The government, the private sector and academia will increasingly adopt automation solutions, with tech companies leading the way.





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