Our objective is to democratize AI: Prakash Mallya, Managing Director, Sales & Marketing Group, Intel India

prakash mallya Intel

Discussing the importance of AI, Prakash Mallya, Managing Director, Sales & Marketing Group, Intel India, in an interaction with EC’s Rachana Jha, states why Intel is bullish about India’s market potential, and highlights his company’s efforts in making 5G a reality in India
Some edited excerpts…

What have been some of the major initiatives that Intel has taken in the past one year?
We see tremendous opportunity in the growth of cloud and datacenters, which makes India a strategic region for our growth, contributing significantly to Intel’s technology and product leadership. Perhaps our biggest asset is our dual ability to develop a full suite of hardware, from robots to drones, as well as define the network infrastructure build on cloud and datacenters, upon which these technologies operate. This is why our strategy is to transform from a PC-centric company to a data-centric company.

Our leadership under the data center group business in India pivots on high performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud and analytics. In India, we see potential in the BFSI, telecom, and e-commerce sectors, across big data, and Internet of Things, which are complementary to HPC and AI. In fact, there is already an uptake in the HPC segment among the academia and local customers, including the National Stock Exchange, and cloud service provider NxtGen. We have recently introduced the Intel Xeon scalable processor family platform, which will provide a foundation for AI, HPC & Cloud. Earlier this year, we also hosted the India edition of our global AI Day, to showcase the companies that are effectively using M2M learning to make nimble business decisions, the solutions that hold potential for India, and Intel’s commitment to making that happen. 15,000 developers are already being trained under this initiative, and it won’t be long before we start seeing the real impact.

How do you see the evolution of the IT industry in India?
The IT industry in India is witnessing a sea change with the advent of new-age technologies such as AI, big data analytics, IoT, as well as digital-first policies such as the now implemented GST and the 5G proposal.

We are building the next generation of these technologies, which puts us in a unique vantage point to help drive the future of the country’s fourth industrial revolution. Given our presence at the edge and at the data center, we can ensure a seamlessly integrated and secure IoT environment combined with our processor capabilities. With our expertise and assets, we are focused on AI, 5G, IoT, and HPC, all powered by cloud-connectivity, to enhance the value proposition we bring to our customers here through Intel architecture. In that sense, we are uniquely positioned to deliver insights from data, which in turn is driving innovation, releasing new services and businesses back into the Indian economy.

What opportunities does Intel see in the enterprise space in India?
We see tremendous opportunity in the growth of the cloud and data centre, the Internet of Things, memory, and FPGAs, all bound together by connectivity. It’s important though to realize that connectivity is not just about connecting every phone in the world. There are 8 billion people so potentially there are 8 billion phones. But one of Intel’s drives is to connect 50 to 100 billion things. If you look at the portfolio of the connectivity technologies that we’re putting together, they’re driving an entire panorama of devices, the phone being only one category.

Additionally, the Government’s ‘Digital India’ mandate makes us doubly bullish about India’s market potential – especially in sectors like BFSI, telecom, and e-commerce for solutions in HPC, big data, and Internet of Things, all of which are complementary to AI. AS mentioned earlier, there is an uptake in the
HPC segment among academia and local customers.

We are working on establishing deep Industry collaborations and power skill building to promote the adoption and usage of AI. With reference to 5G, we are focusing on three key areas: industry partnerships, end-to-end 5G-related hardware/software, products and platform, and supporting 5G standards-setting. Here we are working with the Department of Telecom, to provide it with information from studies and trials, which in itself is a first. And, finally we are exploring the possibility of setting up test beds and taskforces on both sides to work towards making 5G a reality sooner than later. Intel is also bringing innovative technologies in the realm of high performance computing for partners to build solutions and lay the foundation for a digital infrastructure in the country. The Intel Xeon Phi processors launched last year enables complex tasks and supports highly scalable workloads in science and technology research. The opportunities are immense for the HPC market in India and the uptake is only going to increase in this market. Last but not the least, there is cloud computing, adoption of which is getting a boost from India’s fast growing tech startup ecosystem – as these businesses evolve, they are likely to invest more in its IT needs such as purchasing high-end servers, effective software tools, database licenses. Also, most of these ‘cloud-born’ startups opt for software based services since these are highly economical and can help new enterprises perform efficiently with fewer resources.

What is Intel’s strategy – specifically with respect to AI in India?
Intel has aligned its AI strategy for India in-line with the government’s rapidly evolving Digital India vision and is making major investments in technology, training, resources, and R&D in AI. We have established deep collaborations with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Wipro, Julia Computing and Calligo Technologies to accelerate the onset of AI. Additionally, we rolled out a comprehensive Intel AIDeveloper Education Program in India which is targeted at educating 15,000 scientists, developers, analysts, and engineers on key AI technologies, including Deep Learning and Machine Learning.
Through 60 programs ranging from workshops, roadshows, user group community and senior technology leader roundtables, our objective here, is the same as our global AI objective – to democratize AI by addressing three basic challenges; lack of vocational skills/relevant workforce through developer engagement/education program, bring together the scattered ecosystem through local partners who can develop relevant solutions, and enable knowledge sharing ,and, address the technology requirements for academia and research by working with institutes such as IIT Patna, C-DAC, IISC, to drive more opportunities for AI, each of which is enabling social impact. Also, we recently hosted the first India edition of our global AI Day.

In August this year, we launched the Movidius Neural Compute Stick, the world’s first USB-based deep learning inference kit and self-contained artificial intelligence (AI) accelerator in a small form factor. We are excited about its capacity to deliver dedicated deep neural network processing capabilities to a wide range of host devices at the edge. Designed for product developers, researchers, and makers, the Movidius Neural Compute Stick is designed to ensure developers are retooling for an AI-centric digital economy.

Is Intel also engaged in any government project currently?
Yes. As mentioned, to expedite the roll out of 5G, we are supporting 5G standards-setting by working with the Department of Telecom. We have worked with NITI Aayog under its flagship program, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), to set up the Tinker Lab concept for ‘mini makers’ in India’s middle and high schools. We have supported the government to establish 10 of the 500 Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATL), as a blueprint for the facilities where students will gain hands-on experience with chips, boards, robots, and machines, to experiment and engineer their own mini machines. Currently, we are running our Future Skills Program at the labs, under which we are training 900 underserved, high-potential students in digital literacy and tech skills. The idea behind the program is to raise an ‘innovation generation’ which has the design mindset to create new tech innovations that respond to the community, government or personal challenges. 10 labs are spread across the country, from Assam to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and across girl’s schools, public schools and army & air force schools. So far, we have engaged 9369 students at the Pre-Tinker level, of which the majority (57%) are girls.

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