Microsoft R&D head says there are so many uses cases for India to go digital

22nd Dec 2016
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Anil Bhansali has been in Microsoft for more than a decade now. As the managing director of Microsoft India's R&D he believes sensors are creating so much data that enterprises are yet to use this data for insights about customers and consumers. He says e-commerce is an industry where data is so dynamic that it could be used for actionable insights. Here are the excerpts of his interview with YourStory:

Anil Bhansali, third from left, signs an MoU with the Govt of Telangana to use cloud based tools for citizen services
Anil Bhansali, third from left, signs an MoU with the Govt of Telangana to use cloud based tools for citizen services

YS: Everyone talks digital transformation but isn't data the most important aspect to use from digital interactions?

AB: Every business is going through digital transformation. From government to education, which is a big opportunity. With data you can figure out a lot of things, for example if the government wants to know why people drop out in the tenth standard they can do so by going back to student records that are digital and correlate the cause. All this is possible provided student information is digital and their assessments must be digital too. We can use our data platforms to look at the reasons for not finishing school and then make suggestions to create interventions that can keep kids in school. The AP and Telangana government have done work with us and we covered over six hundred thousand students to understand this hypothesis of why people dropped out of school. The results are provided to the government of AP and it covered 13 districts.

YS: The uses cases are plenty if records go digital?

AB: Let us take agriculture, the use cases for understanding crop failure by studying weather patterns in a region and helping farmers sow at the right time is a use case. IoT in agriculture can check water and soil levels to improve cropping patterns. This data can be combined with data on the use of fertilizers and types of seeds used. Agriculture is just one use case. There are several other use cases and benefits with doing digital to help the farmer.

YS: What do you make of artificial intelligence?

AB: The cloud and the fall in compute costs have allowed the emergency room of cognitive research and business models. Things like natural language processing, facial recognition, voice, and gestures are very popular in Corporate R&D Labs and startups. The smartphone generation is seeing an app fatigue set in. Startups that use a combination of IoT, AI, and data services are going to succeed in the long run. But they have to focus on their services. It can be any area of their interest like government, education, and healthcare. E-commerce is one industry that has created so much data and is using data to predict the value of their consumers. This data is also helping them improve their customer service.

YS: What do you think of India Stack?

AB: Yes, the future is about platforms on which services can be built. Digital services using Aadhaar can be powerful to reach information to a billion people. In such platforms machine learning and the use of data can be dynamic. To conclude I must say that every organisation must embrace digital transformation and apply data crunching for predicitve and prescriptive results, just the tools being implemented is not enough.

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