Can artificial intelligence change the face of Indian IT services?

It has been a perennial dream for most firms in the Indian IT services sector – How to reduce costs without adding proportionate manpower? While Indian IT service firms have come up the value chain, revenues are still linked to manpower. However, with Indian IT services firms adopting emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics, this trend seems to be changing gradually.

As clients demand faster delivery of software solutions and at a lesser cost, Indian organizations are focusing heavily on building autonomic and cognitive technology enabled platforms that can do routine tasks quickly and efficiently. Besides alliances with specialist firms that specialize in autonomic technologies, Indian IT firms are also building capabilities internally – either organically or through acquisitions.

Infosys’ focus on automation has helped it automating the repeatable tasks with a productivity improvement of 30-40%. Similarly, Cognizant is using elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning in projects involving strategic customers.

In line with this strategic focus, Wipro too has developed its artificial intelligence platform, Wipro Holmes. The usage of automation technologies can significantly raise the bar for excellence, leaving humans to focus on core tasks. As artificial intelligence platforms can process far more information in a relatively shorter time, the advantage is significant. The IT services firm has tested the platform for the management of its internal helpdesk, and the initial results have been encouraging, with the platform delivering close to 95 percent accuracy quickly.

India’s largest IT services player, TCS, has built Ignio, an artificial intelligence platform, that has been built to automate most of the tasks related to IT infrastructure. TCS claims that once Ignio is plugged into an IT infrastructure, it analyses and builds a 360 degree view of the IT infrastructure. Ignio goes on to automate tasks that can be handled by it, and for tasks that it does not know how to handle, it gives control to a human being, and learns how it is done.

Going forward, experts expect a significant growth in revenue without a subsequent rise in headcount. For example, according to Nasscom, for the year ended March 2015, the Indian IT industry hired 14,350 engineers for one billion dollars in revenues, as compared to 38,000 in 2003 for the same amount of revenue.

As machines or software bots mimic human actions, the question will not be ‘Robots vs Humans‘. As both machines and humans evolve, it will not be one against the other, but how both machines and humans can collaborate with each other to further improve productivity.

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