Unlocking the full potential of AI in India

Embracing tech intensity in various industries, through technology, talent and trust

By Dr. Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer, Microsoft India

2018 was a remarkable year for AI when we witnessed this game-changing technology dominating the agendas of leading organizations and even nations. In the last year, Microsoft has helped organizations in Asia Pacific, such as ICICI Lombard, OOCL, Apollo Hospitals and Northern Territory Fisheries, to harness AI as the core – and catalyst – of their digital transformation strategy.

Yet, few questions remain: How is AI shaping up in 2019? How will the organizations that have deployed AI reap its benefits? Is India on the right track to leverage AI as a transformational catalyst? To help answer these questions, we partnered with IDC, a leading research analyst firm, to conduct a study involving 200 business leaders and 202 workers in India. The focus of this report was to better understand how organizations in India are embracing AI, harnessing its capabilities and understanding the key barriers to greater and faster adoption.

2019: Year of Tangible AI Impact

Most notably, our study found that AI offers genuine, tangible potential in driving the next phase of growth in India. The two important markers contributing to a country’s competitiveness are innovation and productivity. According to the study, AI is expected to more than double the rate of innovation (x2.2 times) and employee productivity (x 2.3 times) in India by 2021.

Hence, there was no surprise that business leaders saw the importance of AI to their organizational growth. 77% of business leaders agreed that AI is instrumental in an organization’s competitiveness in the next three years. In fact, organizations that have deployed some form of AI today expect their competitiveness to increase 2.3 times in three years.

One such organization is ICICI Lombard, one of the leading private sector general insurance companies in India.

Even though India is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing auto insurance markets, the sector has had to rely on traditional ways to renew lapsed policies or address claims. Both services require inspectors to physically look over vehicles and make damage assessments. But with more than 230 million vehicles and 1200 auto accidents every day across the country, getting those inspections done and receiving approvals is time intensive, creating issues for both parties.

To find a more efficient way, ICICI Lombard worked with Microsoft to develop India’s first AI-enabled car inspection feature in its mobile app, “Insure”. In case of lapsed policy instead of a physical inspection, customers can simply take images of their vehicle and upload them with Insure. The app then uses AI and machine learning to divide the images into frames and identify the various parts of the car to look for damage. In most cases the AI module can make a judgement very quickly, reducing the time from days to just minutes.

This has made life simpler for customers as they can file claims conveniently and will receive estimates or approvals much faster than before. Further, automating the process reduces the possibility of inaccurate assessments due to human error as well as increased efficiency and productivity improves the bottom line. From the perspective of AI augmenting human capability, the role of the human insurance inspectors is changing as well, since AI is quickly handing the routine claims, allowing them to attend to more complex claims where human intervention is required.

The success of this has encouraged the company to look at deploying AI in other areas as well, and they are close to using AI to process repair claims as well, which is currently in beta stage and is expected to be launched in 2019.

Culture and Skills are key for CEOs to get right

Embracing tech intensity in various industries, through technology, talent and trust

To be competitive in today’s digital-first world, organizations need to be fast adopters of best-in-class technology, including AI. In addition, they need to start building their own unique digital talent and ensure that all of this is based on trust and security. Taken together, we refer to this combination of factors as the ‘tech intensity’ of an organization.

In order to fully embrace tech intensity, organizations will also need to invest in their human capital.

The rise of AI means that there is a necessity for workers to reskill and upskill to remain relevant and play a part in the workforce of tomorrow. In addition, business leaders will need to drive cultural transformation within their organizations that values experimentation, agility, proactiveness and a growth mindset.

However, the study found that approximately half of workers surveyed, as well as a substantial proportion of business leaders believe that cultural traits and behaviors that contribute to AI adoption are not being demonstrated today.

Bar chart shows the comparison between the perceptions of Business Leaders and workers, regarding the power of AI to empower, innovate, go beyond and collaborate at the workplace

The good news is that, according to our study, 85% of businesses are willing to invest in skilling and reskilling of workers to create an AI-ready workforce. However, 65% of them have yet to implement plans to train their workers. Business leaders must have the urgency to invest in workers’ training, as AI cannot progress without skilled individuals.

The jobs of today will not be the jobs of tomorrow, and already we have seen demand for software engineering roles expand rapidly beyond just the tech sector. However, building an AI-ready workforce does not necessarily mean an acute need for technological skills. The top future skills identified by business leaders include a very important soft skill needed to create new AI-led innovations – entrepreneurship and initiative taking.

At Microsoft, we constantly look for ways to support businesses, governments and communities ways that can help them better adapt in the new digital economy. Recently, we launched that will empower business leaders to be successful and get results from AI. Our master class series will help to get the practical knowledge how to define an AI strategy and use AI with confidence. Also, you will hear directly from industry experts how to foster “AI Ready” culture.

Today, we are also starting out the Week of AI a specially curated five-day workshop series to help developers and organizations build expertise in cloud computing, data sciences, AI and IoT. Spread over five days these free of cost sessions will be addressed by data scientists and AI experts from companies such as Flipkart, Reliance Jio, and InMobi that are leading the way in transforming their businesses and the industry with technology.

In addition, our publicly available Microsoft Professional Program has an AI track, offering AI-specific online courses and instructional videos from expert instructors targeted at IT professionals and tech savvy executives. We have also developed a developer-focused AI School, which provides online videos and other assets that help build professional AI skills. that we are initiating to help democratize the skills required in an AI future.

Ultimately, staying competitive in today’s market requires adaptability from both employers and workers. Organizations with an agile workforce and a progressive and empathetic management who are willing to deal with change will have a greater chance to succeed. This means that in an AI-enabled future, organizations that have both the skills and the mindset to adapt are in a better position to create new breakthroughs, innovate and thrive.

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