How IBM's Watson is Making Inroads in India

The Indian IoT market is set to grow to $15bn by 2020

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Supercomputing is the future of business, as more and more tech-driven platforms adopt AI and machine learning tools to gain maximum benefit. As for India a recent report by Nasscom stated that the Indian Internet of Things (IoT) market is set to grow to $15 billion by 2020 from the current $5.6 billion.

IBM's artificial intelligence unit Watson, has gained much spotlight in the last few years in thos regard, for its ability to stand up as a sophisticated analytical software for optimal performance as a “question answering” machine. 

What is IBM Watson?

Watson is a question answering (QA) computing system that uses IBM's DeepQA software and the Apache UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture) framework, to apply advanced natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation, automated reasoning, and machine learning technologies to the field of open domain question answering. 

Sandip Dutta, IBM Watson IoT Platform & Solutions Leader, South Asia spoke to Entrepreneur India, helping us understand the potential of Watson and how it is making its presence felt in India.

 When did IBM Watson enter India and how has its growth been till now?

We started operation Indian in 2015 and realised that IoT is more of an eco-system. So even as we may provide the platform in terms of solutions, the hardware has to be procured.So most of the initial steps were to form partnerships and collaborate with device manufacturers and assist them in connecting their devices to our platform.

Then came the challenge of looking at implementing partners for which there are two categories, the B2C and the B2B. The former is rather fragmented with lots of players, where almost anyone on the IoT space was providing a solution. We decided that we needed to differentiate ourselves and focus on what our strength is, which is things like cognitive analysis, data crunching and more, most of which are associated with enterprises.

Now we have a whole set of partners who are not only using our product but also many system integrators are developing further advanced solutions to suit a need-based market.

What is the current number of companies/alliances that IBM Watson is working with in India?

In India we now have 40 to 50 major partners. Most of these companies are looking to create efficient management models, of which majority are focusing on SaaS based solutions. 

What are some of the key sectors that Watson is working with in India?

Watson’s technology is such that it can cover mostly all sectors, but yes there are some sectors where we have seen more buzz since we started. Automotive, Non-Life Insurance, Fleet Management and FMCG companies are some of our biggest partners. Having said that, manufacturing companies is something we are keenly looking to tap as Industrial IoT is where the real money and value is.

IoT also brings in the question of effective cybersecurity. How does IBM’s product plan to deal with this challenge?

Security is one of the key differentiators that we bring along in our product. most IoT service providers initially only concentrated on the automation part, but as you can see how easy it has become to hack into devices and network, security is a big challenge.

Since we have been a hardware company for so long, the security aspect is part of our DNA. Therefore, effective security measures have been imbibed into the platform.

Also, it will take some time to establish, that not all IoT platforms are as vulnerable and that will only happen as more and more usability of the product comes into play. When Banks first adopted NetBanking and Mobile Banking, most of us were very skeptical to transact on the platform. But now, hardly any of us visit a bank anymore, as ample security boosters have been put in place to assure the customer of its safety.

 What is the plan for IBM Watson going forward in India?

The focus is going to be the B2B solutions as we have always been active in that domain. Consumer Oriented IoT platforms are fragmented and cluttered with too many players, so w do not see a very high indulgence there.



Agamoni Ghosh

Written By

She was generating stories out of Bengaluru for Entrepreneur India. She has worked with leading national and international business publications, including Newsweek, Business Standard, and CNBC in the past.