U.S., India, China, Lead in Artificial Intelligence

Malcolm Frank, head of strategy at IT firm Cognizant, headquartered in Teaneck, New Jersey, told CNNMoney that the United States,  India, and China are far ahead of anyone else in artificial intelligence.

In America, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Tesla are investing billions of dollars to substitute for people in sectors such as agriculture, medicine, and driverless cars.

In China, Tencent and Baidu are competing with Silicon Valley to develop new uses for AI. Tech billionaire Jack Ma of Alibaba, has even said CEOs may eventually be obsolete. Unlike in the U.S., most of the push for AI in China comes from the government which has invested $150 billion, with the aim of making China the world’s “innovation center for AI” by 2030.

CNN Tech says: In India firms such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro, which provide technology services to big names including Deutsche Bank, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Microsoft and the U.S. Army, are increasingly relying on automation in their operations. In addition, India’s startup scene also makes him [Frank] “very optimistic” about the future of artificial intelligence there.

Artificial Intelligence

“In India, you look at this remarkable platform that is in place now… of incredibly sophisticated skills that are focused on the needs of [global] companies,” said Frank. “I think it’s three horses in the race, and that’s probably the wrong metaphor because they are all going to win,” he said. “They are just going to win differently.”

 

August 30, 2017   No Comments

Investor Outlines Macro Trends in India

Macro thinker and author of the institutional newsletter, Global Macro Investor, Raoul Pal, identifies big trends ahead of time and has 24,000 Twitter followers. He enunciates that the next big macro idea is India.

Pal says, “India has built the world’s first national digital infrastructure, leaping at least two generations of financial technologies and has built something as important as the railroad was to the U.K. or the interstate highways were to the U.S. India is now the most attractive major investment opportunity in the world.

Pal outlines 7 phases that has made India the biggest emerging market macro story in the world. Lightly edited excerpts follow:

Phase 1 – The Aadhaar Act

In 2009, India launched a project called Aadhaar, and began creating a biometric database based on a 12-digit digital identity, authenticated by finger prints and retina scans, to identify and document its population. As of 2016, 1.1 billion people  or 95% of the population now has a digital proof of identity.

Phase 2 – Banking Adoption

The Government of India  allowed the creation of eleven Payment Banks, which can hold money but don’t do any lending. To motivate people to open accounts, the government offered free life insurance, and linked bank accounts to social welfare benefits. Within three years, more than 270 million bank accounts were opened and $10bn in deposits flooded in. People who registered under the Aadhaar Act could open a bank account using just their Aadhaar number.

Phase 3 – Building Out a Mobile Infrastructure

Since people were able to instantly open a mobile phone account using their Aadhaar identification,  mobile phone penetration surged and went from 40% of the population to 79% within a few years.

The Unique Identification Authority of India, which administers Aadhaar, met with executives from Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Qualcomm, among others, to develop Aadhar-compliant devices which can integrate features such as secure cameras and iris authentication. Microsoft launched a lite version of Skype designed to work on an unstable 2G connection, and which is integrated with the Aadhaar database, so video calling can be used for authenticated calls.

Phase 4 – UPI – A New Transaction System

On December 30, 2016, the government launched Bharat Interface for Money, a digital payments platform using a Unified Payments Interface by which payments can be made by those with Unified Payments Interface accounts to those that do not have such accounts. Additionally, people can check their bank balances, and use QR codes for instant payments on this digital payments interface. Payments can now be made without using mobile phones — just using fingerprints and an Aadhaar number is required. This system works on a 2G network so it reaches even the most remote parts of India. It will revolutionize the agricultural economy, which employs 60% of the workforce and contributes 17% of GDP. Farmers will now have access to bank accounts and credit, along with crop insurance.

Phase 5 – India Stack – A Digital Life

India Stack is a framework that will make the new digital economy work seamlessly. It’s a set of APIs (Application Programming Interface) that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilize a unique digital infrastructure via a presence-less, paperless and cashless service delivery.

Essentially, it is a secure Dropbox for a person’s entire official life and creates what is known as eKYC: Electronic Know Your Customer.

Using India Stack APIs, all that is required is a fingerprint or retina scan to open a bank account, mobile phone account, brokerage account, buy a mutual fund or share medical records at any hospital or clinic in India. It also creates the opportunity for getting instant loans and brings insurance to the masses, particularly life insurance.

India Stack is the largest open API in the world and will allow for massive fintech opportunities to be built around it. India is already the third largest fintech center but it will jump into first place in a few years. The country is already organizing hackathons to develop applications for the APIs.

Phase 6 – A Cash Ban

The cash ban of November 2016 forced everyone into the new digital economy. It has the hugely beneficial side-effect of reducing everyday corruption, recapitalizing the banking sector and increasing government tax take, thus allowing India to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure.

India was a cash society but once the dust settles, cash will account for less than 40% of total transactions in the next five years. It may eliminate cash altogether in the next ten years.

Phase 7 – The Investment Opportunity

The future for India is massive technological advancement, a higher trend rate of GDP and more tax revenues. Tax revenues will fund infrastructure – ports, roads, rail and healthcare. Technology will increase agricultural productivity, online services and manufacturing productivity.

Telecom, banking, insurance and online retailing will boom, as will the tech sector. FDI is already exploding and will rise massively in the years ahead as technology giants and others pour into India to take advantage of the opportunity.

Nothing in India will be the same again.

 

August 1, 2017   No Comments

Google Acquires India-Based Halli Labs

Halli Labs, where Halli (pronounced Hull – Lee) means ‘village’ in Kannada, the language of the southern state of Karnataka in India, is the latest AI startup acquired by Google. Based in Bangalore, the four-month-old startup’s focus is building deep learning and machine learning systems to address what it describes as ‘old problems’ and domains. Halli Labs has been working on natural language processing which can help Google efficiently process real-world language.

Halli Labs Logo

Google confirmed the acquisition with a statement  to TechCrunch:

“We are excited that the Halli Labs team is joining Google,” said spokesperson Taj Meadows. “They’ll be joining our team that is focused on building products that are designed for the next billion users coming online, particularly in India.”

Market intelligence research firm IDC reports that the AI market currently stands at $8 billion. The research forecasts the rise of the AI market to $47 billion in 2020.

July 13, 2017   No Comments

Global Technology Firms Increase Workforce in India

U.S.-based firms Microsoft, LinkedIn, Oracle, Facebook, and Google are increasing their engineering staff in India. These companies are seeking engineers from India to work on technologies similar to their global counterparts to build competence in niche technology areas.

A report from Washington-DC based Bain & Company published last month said global in-house centers (GICs) in India will play a bigger role for enterprises. “Indian GICs will play a more active role in driving top-of-mind investment priorities of global C-level executives at Fortune 1,000 companies in the next three to five years. In addition, more senior leaders of the enterprise, particularly those two levels below CEOs, will operate out of Indian GICs over this period,” the report added.

North Carolina-based Lowe’s, that has 1,000 employees in India, said its IT and analytics capabilities in the country will amplify its growth strategy.

“We are hiring people in e-commerce and digital technologies, retail and supply chain technologies, core engineering and infrastructure such as networking, virtual infrastructure and containerization, analytics and big data, and project management,” said James Brandt, managing director, Lowe’s India.

Target India, which has a current headcount of 2,500, will hire professionals in technology and areas such as marketing, supply chain and animation, reports SmartInvestor.

“We will hire talent with Java and Open Source capabilities and  for niche areas with expertise in machine learning and neuro-linguistic programming. In addition to technology, India has a talent pool in computer-generated imagery and animation. Our marketing team is looking to expand our CGI capabilities and tap this pool,” said Shalini Natraj, head of HR at Target India.

Human Resource elements

June 5, 2017   No Comments

9 U.S. Companies among Top 25 Best Workplaces in India

Based on LinkedIn‘s study of actions, nine American companies are listed among the 25 most desirable companies for employees in India.

Logo of Linked in's Top Companies Where India Wants to Work

At #2 is Amazon: With more than 10,000 employees in India Amazon is rapidly expanding its Prime Video offerings in the country, investing $5 billion in 2016 with plans to double that investment in 2017.

At #3 is KPMG India: This firm operates in 152 countries worldwide. KPMG India has offices in Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Noida, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

At #7 is Adobe: India is a key innovation hub for Adobe – its biggest R&D location outside of its headquarters. Nearly 30 percent of the company’s research and development is centered in India. “We have probably grown faster in India than anywhere else in the world,” says CEO Shantanu Narayen.

At #8 is Google: The ability to download maps or YouTube clips for offline access, started in India before going global.

At #12 is Accenture: With 140,000 employees in India, Accenture recently opened a new Cyber Center in Bangalore, where clients, Accenture specialists and other industry experts from universities and beyond can uncover the next generation of security solutions and outpace cyber adversaries.

At #13 is Deloitte: In India, Deloitte offers a range of Audit, Risk Advisory, Tax, Consulting and Financial Advisory services across thirteen cities.

At #16 is Cisco: Cisco is moving beyond its core router and switching business into subscription sales and other sources of recurring revenue. These plans require robust hiring.

At #24 is McKinsey & Company: The company’s insights cover many topics from how India’s largest private bank fosters gender equality, to the state of the country’s private equity sector. More than 70 McKinsey India alumni have become CEOs.

At #25 is Oracle: The company has set up nine incubation centers to contribute to India’s booming startup culture and trains 500,000 students every year through the company’s education program.

 

 

May 21, 2017   No Comments