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Indian IT firms get set to adopt cognitive systems to take on global majors

Cognitive platforms that are powered by machine learning, analytics and natural language processing and can mimic human minds are creating waves globally. Such platforms, developed by global tech majors like IBM, Microsoft and Google, have now gone way beyond in their learning phase to predict health vulnerabilities, weather patterns, consumer behaviour and even employee attrition.

Though Indian IT services players looked at this whole space a little late, they are not very far behind in this journey. Ignio, a cognitive automation platform built by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), today is prescribing insurance products for a customer based on his/her life stages and events. Ignio's 'what-if' simulations draw various scenarios based on customer requirement and prescribe ideal products. The company has recently taken its platform focus another step ahead by launching predictive maintenance and AI-based solutions for energy & utility companies. Similarly, Infosys' Nia scrapes through thousands of service contracts in almost no time and highlights the rules, exceptions and resolutions therein, helping users save a lot of time and resources.

As digital services take centrestage globally, almost every domestic IT services company has either built proprietary cognitive and AI platforms, or is in the process of doing so using both in-house and open source tools and technologies, stealing a pie from global giants such as IBM, Microsoft and GE.

IT services firm Mphasis last week announced the launch of its own artificial intelligence-based cognitive system, Autocode.AI. This platform, the Blackstone-owned company said, would help in accelerating coding for developing a software from unstructured inputs and fix a range of issues including testing and vulnerabilities assessment in a cloud environment.

"Firstly, such platforms allow Indian firms to demonstrate their competence in AI and capture work implementing AI solutions. Secondly, as digital platforms continue to emerge in many business functions, AI is often a component of these platforms. This gives Indian firms a cost advantage apart from offering them IP rents in addition to their labour fees," said said Peter Bendor-Samuel, Founder & CEO of global research firm Everest Group. "Hence, Indian IT firms can improve margins, demonstrate competence and improve their competitive positioning."

The proof is in the pay-offs 

Though it's still early days, most Indian IT services companies are starting to see benefits through such platforms. TCS, for example, claims that Ignio has clocked a revenue of $31 million in first three years of its launch ended March 2018 and now eyes $100 million in the next two years.  

Infosys, which is using the Nia platform for executing pure-play digital IT outsourcing contracts, is also making huge cost savings in the legacy side of business. Wipro today claims that with the use of Holmes, it has witnessed productivity improvement to the tune of three per cent in the December-ended quarter over the previous period. The platform is currently in use by over 350 clients, says Abidali Neemuchwala, CEO, Wipro.

HCL Technologies, which is building AI-powered products and platforms through its division 'DRYiCE', is leveraging them to drive margin expansion. Another domestic IT firm, Tech Mahindra, has developed its automation and AI framework 'TACTiX' under which it delivers a bouquet of service offerings to clients.    

Bendor-Samuel of Everest Group, however, says that Indian firms have a long way to go in matching the capabilities of global majors like Microsoft, IBM and Google and Amazon. "Indian firms don't have the cash or access to data that global companies have. In that sense, they are a decade behind," he says.

Despite this gap between Indian and global tech majors, domestic IT firms are slowly but steadily building up their capabilities in digital technology areas. This is evident from the fact that around 30 per cent of their revenues now come from the digital space. It's a just a matter of time before Indian IT services industry start giving their global counterparts a tough fight with their in-house cognitive and AI platforms.

Company Cognitive platform Usage
TCS Ignio Cross-platform solutions across verticals, automation
Infosys Nia
Spot trends, process automation, Solutions across verticals including BFSI, retail
Wipro Holmes
Automates service desk, IT infrastructure management, intelligent automation
HCL Technologies DRYiCE Robotic process automation, cognitive virtual assistant
Tech Mahindra TACTiX Business process automation
Mphasis Autocode.AI Automates testing, vulnerability assessment and coding

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