By: Sriram Raghavan, Director IBM Research-India
Innovation is a cause for opportunity and risk. A nation that pushes its national agenda with innovation as its backbone leads with economic competitiveness. The same goes with organizations. It is imperative that a culture is built to innovate for any organization to progress. India’s economy is among the world’s most successful, having grown more than six-fold over the past three decades.
IBM has been focused on continuous innovation for more than a century. Patenting is an important barometer of that innovation, dynamically leading change in the space of technology for the past 105 years. These inventions have a huge impact on clients, partners and society. They show IBM’s long-term, strategic commitment to innovation and demonstrate the patience to allow scientific discovery to find its way into the market.
India has been pivotal in this journey. Established in 1998, the IBM Research Labs in India has emerged as a premier research lab in the region with an impressive list of achievements, including innovations in service delivery, customer analytics, workforce management, and many others. In addition the lab is working to solve unique challenges in emerging markets such as cleansing of noisy data, scalable telecom analytics, and analytics on the edge for financial transactions.
Our past successes in telecommunication, banking, infrastructure, government and others or the extensive work with the community are a testimony of the role IBM has played to enable sectors of national significance in the country. We are currently focused on using cognitive technology to solve problems in several industry domains such as telecommunication, financial services, education, HR, tech support, manufacturing, commerce and health, retail, ecommerce, energy and utilities.
IBM brings to India its exclusive capabilities and advantages – from Watson, the world’s premier cognitive computing platform, the world’s largest data science workforce, industry leadership in analytics, Bluemix — IBM’s cloud based application development platform, and a lot more.
IBM ATM Analytics allows a bank to track its ATM network to help predict outages due to cash shortages or maintenance issues. Based on predictive model suggestion, it can point precise locations of ATMs, where action needs to happen. Deployed at one of the largest public sector banks in India, this technology has helped reduce reporting turnaround time as well.
The research lab in India is focused on cognitive solutions for the financial service sector, working closely with financial institutions across India and Asia Pacific. Innovations from the lab were part of the Watson Wealth Advisor solution deployed at a leading Singapore bank to generate personalized portfolio recommendations based on analysis of financial news, investment sentiments, advisory reports, as well as customer profiles. The lab is also working with other financial institutions in India and Asia Pacific on advanced payment data analytics, new credit scoring models using alternate data sources, and the use of cognitive technologies for transforming compliance processes.
UrJar, is an innovative project in our research lab that aims to leverage populations in developing nations where accessibility to reliable power is still a far sighted dream. Through study and research, the scientists suggested that discarded laptop batteries still have enough power to keep an LED light on for more than 4 hours a day in a year. Adoption of this technology commercially at a large scale can further incentivize the process of collection of e-waste. Moreover, this solution eliminates the use of kerosene for lighting purposes resulting in reduction of greenhouse emissions by 2.7 kilograms per lamp.
Blockchain:The India Research lab is a major center of expertise in blockchain technology and is working on a number of innovative applications of this technology. The lab has been directly involved in the development of the platform that IBM has contributed to the Linux Foundations’ HyperLedger project. In addition, the lab is building middleware frameworks support the development of smart contract-based blockchain applications and working closely with clients across the globe in the use of these technologies to transform trade finance, trade logistics, and supply chain.
IBM believes that education as an industry is going to be transformed through the application of cognitive technology. The future will shift towards a personalized learning environment – one where the classroom will ‘learn’ and be able to adapt based on the needs of the student. IBM’s research lab in India is a center of expertise and innovation in this space. Technology developed by our India Research Lab led to the IBM offering ‘Personalized learning on the cloud’. IBM is also partnering with Government of India, education institutes, labs, other private organizations to make an impact in India’s education landscape.
Cognitive Fashion: The Research lab in IBM India is working on a roadmap to redefine the Fashion Industry using Cognitive Computing technologies. We have a created a system, called Fashionista, that lets users search for fashion accessories precisely matching their needs using a combination of natural language dialog, deep image understanding and text understanding capabilities. We are currently in discussions with various retailers in India to pilot this technology. This cognitive system can understand any fashion photograph (for example the user can upload any picture and it will tell where a similar looking product can be bought from), talk about it coherently (tags and captions for e-commerce portals and image sharing sites), and answer questions in natural language to influence outcomes like sales, cross-sell and up-sell (dialogue based purchases).
Earlier this year, IBM and the Delhi Dialogue Commission collaborated to apply advanced technologies to support the Government of Delhi’s clean air action plan. Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning was leveraged combined with the analytical power of cognitive computing and statistical modelling to provide the Commission with insights on where the pollution is coming from, where it will likely go, and what will be its potential effect, allowing more informed decisions about how to improve air quality and better protect the health of Delhi’s citizens.
These are just a few of the many path-breaking projects that are being undertaken in IBM’s India Labs. Every year, they host ConnectIN, an innovation summit that provides a platform for India’s business leaders, policy makers, developers and start-ups to engage with the lab leadership and researchers at IBM to gauge the best of technological innovations in their respective fields. It regularly encourages the need for ground breaking innovations across industry segments to mark 21st century as the ‘Era of India’, keeping up with the government’s Make in India priority.