Chip giant Intel sees the coronavirus outbreak as a temporary blip on the horizon, unlike the gloom and doom sentiment that has gripped large segments of industry because of the coronavirus pandemic. Intel Corporation plans to leverage new and emerging technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain for sectors such as healthcare and education, Nivruti Rai, country head, Intel India, and vice-president, data platforms group, said in an interview. Edited excerpts:
Is the coronavirus outbreak prompting Intel India to rethink its business strategy?
There is an impact in the short term not only for Intel but also for the world in terms of demand and customer needs. However, what the covid lens has told us is that there will be significant acceleration in digitization and technology and this will create many opportunities for Intel and India.
In what way is Intel India pivoting towards the new market reality?
We are going to the next step, which is way bigger, and will partner with many companies and countries to leverage technology to revolutionize segments such as education, healthcare, telehealth, retail, entertainment, and workplace of the future as these have created opportunities for us.
We are going to focus on 5G. The infrastructure that 5G can provide to us and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is the need of the hour. We have to build communication devices out of India and focus on digital infrastructure, cloud, technologies such as AI, blockchain, and cybersecurity. We are working on a solution mindset. How can we stitch solutions by collaborating and partnering with different institutions and companies? We are working with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) to deploy Intel client and server solutions to help achieve faster and less expensive covid-19 testing, using AI models that create diagnostic capabilities efficiently and accurately.
What are the market opportunities that can aid business recovery in the short to medium term?
There are tremendous opportunities in the areas of education and healthcare. I am pushing for building a complete end-to-end solution in the education space so that children in rural areas don’t miss out on education. Can I create a device that is affordable, maybe a pay-as-you-use device that can help rural India study?
In healthcare, we are leveraging Intel’s portfolio products such as IoT, software servers and AI models to create an end-to-end solution that enables faster diagnostic and treatment. Smart mobility is another opportunity area.
What is the outlook for the tech industry for 2021-21 given the covid situation?
There will surely be an impact especially in 2020 and 2021. Many of the IT companies have adopted work-from-home practices but the MSMEs are not (adopting). So, in the short term, there will be a glitch but the pandemic has given companies and India a longer-term opportunity where we can come together as an industry with the government and accelerate our growth. I am building a tech roadmap for the sector along with some industry stalwarts, looking at what VC funding will be required for that. 2020 will be tough, but we are looking at how we can accelerate and catch up in 2022.
What are your expectations from the government?
The government needs to look at 5G like it sees electricity, roads and water, as part of our social and economic fabric. It has to invest in 5G and enable IT companies to leverage that. Two, manufacturing is critical, so the government needs to think about what incentives it can provide. We have a very large number of trained engineers. Can we reskill them for manufacturing? The government needs to invite manufacturing companies, give them some incentive, build a supply chain for them. Can it help us build a software stack for 5G just like it built UPI and Aadhaar so that entrepreneurs can get on that 5G road?
What are Intel’s 2030 corporate responsibility goals? Have you taken any covid relief initiatives?
Intel’s new 2030 strategy for the next decade include achieving net positive water use, 100% green power and zero waste to landfills across Intel’s global manufacturing operations, and doubling the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles and scaling the impact of its supply chain human rights programmes.
We are working with the government, industry and academia on technology solutions to combat covid-19 and have committed ₹5 crore towards key central and state government relief funds and research initiatives. We are collaborating with Nasscom to build an application ecosystem and multi-cloud backend infrastructure to enable population-scale covid diagnostics, to predict outbreaks and to improve medical care management and administration.