Democratisation of Artificial Intelligence is already underway: Publicis Sapient’s Sanjay Menon

Publicis Sapient’s India Managing Director Sanjay Menon discusses automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other emerging technologies.
By KUL BHUSHAN
| Updated on Aug 19 2019, 06:42 PM IST
Publicis Sapient’s Sanjay Menon explains the benefits of AI and other emerging technologies.
Publicis Sapient’s Sanjay Menon explains the benefits of AI and other emerging technologies. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Artificial Intelligence, hybrid cloud, and automation are some of the top buzzwords in the enterprise space. More and more firms across industries are looking to leverage these technologies to ramp up productivity. As the new age technology makes way to the real world, there is going to be a visible impact on workforce. There is also a growing concern over too much reliability on automated algorithms to take care of critical tasks.

Digital consultancy firm Publicis Sapient's India Managing Director Sanjay Menon believes automation is a positive change as it is helping free humans from work that have lower value and refocusing on areas that have higher value. On Artificial Intelligence, he said the technology can help resolve routine problems, ultimately helping save money and increase efficiency.

Edited excerpts:

Automation is becoming a hot buzzword, how do you see it impacting the Indian industries?

Leveraging technology for productivity and efficiency gains started with the industrial revolution and will only continue to increase at a rapid pace. This is because the underlying technology enabling this is evolving as rapidly. Automation is allowing freeing up human effort from areas which are of lower value and giving time to refocus on areas of higher value. The Indian industry is already leveraging the benefits of this in Banking, Airlines as well as Retail. We will see this trend only increase since consumers seek more convenience, and automation allows that to happen as it ensures value delivery faster and in a more predictable way. Simple yet powerful examples are boarding pass kiosks at airports today. They are no longer a novelty since they make it more convenient for passengers, and in fact the absence of it is seen as being regressive.

Will automation take away jobs?

The impact of automation on jobs needs to be understood in terms of its overall impact and not just in the context of the job that got automated. A great example is when a couple of decades ago, the introduction of computerization at scale in the Indian banking industry was fought against as people claimed it was taking away jobs. With the corresponding training and introduction of computers, the Indian banking industry has only grown in size and is seen amongst the more progressive banks globally. So, automation will lead to overall employment generation at a higher level but will need a different skill mix and therefore a parallel reskilling strategy. The key thing to keep in mind is that with automation we can drive greater economic growth through enhanced value creation, which leads to improvement in quality of life across the board.

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Can you trust AI to do a job? Especially when it comes to handling data for critical industries?

A common mistake many make is to think of AI adoption as a binary option. It is not. For e.g. two industries we could consider 'critical' are BFSI and Healthcare. In the latter, it is literally a matter of life or death. Surprisingly, these are two industries where AI has an out-sized impact. For e.g. in Healthcare, it is helping us to formulate better drugs, identify anomalies in health parameters quickly etc. And in BFSI it has helped in understanding potential trading biases and making better investment decisions. One thing common about these use-cases is that AI is not making any unsupervised decisions - it is helping augment human decisions with "human-in-the-loop" solutions. For critical industries, this is the right approach for now.

Enterprise users understand the impact of AI and ML. How soon an AI-driven cloud ecosystem will be democratised?

Democratisation of AI is already well underway. All the major cloud providers have some sort of self-serve Machine Learning platform. This will ensure that a broader group of people are aware of AI capabilities and encourage adoption and use. That said, with democratization, we usually end-up with the lowest common denominator in functionality. It will make it easier to solve the most common problems. But, in case of many companies, they are looking for models/tools/approaches that will give them an edge over their competitors. This is where we help our clients.

Companies that are looking to automate or use AI/ML to solve routine problems will see a big cost and efficiency benefit. Companies looking to use AI/ML as a competitive differentiator will continue to see the need for core data scientists and practitioners.

ALSO READ: 'Artificial Intelligence can adapt to the learning patterns of each student'

What is the role of automation in cloud? Also, explain the new Hybrid Cloud platform.

One of the main reasons organisations started to prefer cloud automation is that it enables self-service. Automation helped to script the manual process and thus enabled drastic reduction in the time from idea to launch to customers. Automation coupled with on demand provisioning helps in managing costs and increasing efficiency.

Though the cloud has numerous advantages, the data protection laws and constraints mandate IT departments to use hybrid cloud. Secondly, non-startup or established companies have a lot of legacy systems that are not easy to move into cloud. Publicis Sapient helps companies to implement 'headless' architectures and use cloud to provide burst capacity to handle loads during business events.

How do you see the IT and consulting firms offering its services to the corporates in today's digital era? Do you think the trend has changed in last five years?

IT and Consulting firms will need to partner with clients on their transformation journey and not just provide services. If they are limited to providing only strategy or only execution/implementation, they will not be able to deliver value in terms of outcomes the clients need. This will require bringing together capabilities such as Strategy-Design-Engineering-Data threaded in a seamless manner through Agile teams working in rapid iterations.

The other shift required is not only delivering outcomes for clients but also working with them to help them change in the process. A lot of brands over the past two decades lost their technology muscle due to outsourcing and this is now hurting them since technology today is a differentiator. Every company has to think of itself as a technology company in addition to who they are in the context of their industry. For eg. Banks that are winning think of themselves as Tech Company in the business of banking. This calls for new models of working in terms of co-locating, co-creating and being a player-coach to clients.

WATCH: Amazon unveils autonomous drones to deliver packages at your doorstep

 

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First Published Date: 19 Aug, 06:42 PM IST
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