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IT and ChatGPT: Generative AI gains ground among India’s top IT firms

While the IT industry disappointed with its weak earnings and an uncertain outlook, there is one sunny patch in the sector. All IT firms are betting big on generative artificial intelligence (AI). Top companies, including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, Wipro, HCLTech, and Tech Mahindra have been actively sharing their plans and outlook on the big AI opportunity.

In simple terms, AI is the ability of machines to perform certain tasks like translating languages, analysing data (text, audio, video, code, etc), etc., somewhat like human beings but at a larger scale. Generative AI, specifically, refers to producing new content, code, synthetic data, etc., either automatically (based on a programme, e.g.) or based on a prompt (text or image, e.g.) given by the user.

Unlike the unrealised potential of the metaverse, senior industry executives told Moneycontrol that AI has gone beyond the exploratory stages . In fact, in a challenging macro-environment where the focus is shifting to cost efficiency, companies like Tech Mahindra are helping clients save millions by integrating existing AI tools in their operations, as well as building new solutions.

NG Subramaniam, Chief Operating Officer, TCS, mentioned during the company’s earnings call that generative AI was already a revenue-generating vertical. He said, “In my interactions with clients over the last quarter, the conversation starts and stops with ChatGPT and what it’s going to do.”

Infosys CEO Salil Parekh said that his company has active projects that use generative AI platforms to address specific areas of the client’s business.

“We have trained open-source generative AI platforms on our internal software development libraries. We expect generative AI to provide more opportunities to work with our clients, and also to help us improve our own productivity,” he said.

As for Accenture, its plans in this area included acquiring Bengaluru-based industrial AI company Flutura in March.

“We are acquiring Flutura to strengthen our industrial AI services, and to improve the performance of plants, refineries, and supply chains of our clients in the energy, chemicals, metals, mining, and pharmaceutical industries. It will also enable our clients to achieve their net zero goals faster,” Pranav Arora, MD and Lead – Applied Intelligence, Accenture India, told Moneycontrol.

“By ushering in a new era of enterprise intelligence, generative AI has the potential to transform business tasks and functions, from customer service and knowledge management, to creative production and scientific research, across virtually every industry,” Arora added.

These IT companies are already partnering with Google, Microsoft, and Microsoft-backed OpenAI (which developed ChatGPT), as the battle to gain market share for deploying generative AI solutions globally intensifies.

Many of the abovementioned IT firms are engaged in building and customising enterprise level solutions using the tools offered by these tech giants.

What’s in the offing?
TCS is currently working on both the solutions and the consulting front. The solutions include AI-powered financial advisory and wealth management solutions for the BFSI sector, a virtual fashion designer for the retail industry, computer vision for heavy industries, and AI-driven streaming data analytics for anomaly detection, among others.

Nidhi Srivastava, Vice President and Global Head of Google Business Unit, TCS, which is working on developing AI solutions on top of Google’s tools, said, “We are also exploring cross-industry solutions to enhance productivity through automated code generation, content creation, copywriting, and marketing.”

On the services side, TCS is building service offerings and delivery capabilities that can accelerate the implementation of AI-based solutions for clients. “We have also created an `AI Factory‘ to expand AI adoption in enterprises,” Srivastava said.

For Wipro, it’s been over two years since it established the Generative AI Centre of Excellence (CoE) to work with technology partners and academic institutions driving research in advanced areas of AI.

Mukund Kalmanker, VP & Global Head, AI Solutions, Wipro, told Moneycontrol, “Wipro is engaged in many client conversations ranging from AI-assisted decision making to designing new-age digital experiences, to transforming processes across business functions and modernising IT systems and infrastructure.”

He added that customers from sectors like banking, insurance, energy, retail, consumer goods, life sciences, healthcare, telecom, etc., are interested in leveraging AI.

Tech Mahindra too is working on many projects and developing solutions in the AI and Intelligent Automation (IA) space. It is assisting enterprises in meeting demand and improving efficiency.

Kunal Purohit, Chief Digital Services Officer, Tech Mahindra, said, “We help enterprises save millions with computer vision-based asset inspection solutions, crowdsourcing (data, etc.), conversational AI, anomaly detection, Document AI or low-code/no-code solutions like Vision AI Workbench, Forecasting Workbench, etc.”

For instance, using their Smart Assistant solution that classifies all incoming email, Tech Mahindra improved data accuracy by 90 percent and reduced human effort by 60 percent for an insurance claims company, delivering a 6X increase in the ROI on support cost, Purohit said.

Need for AI talent
AI is becoming an essential part of digital transformation strategies for businesses across industries, and it will continue to evolve and become more accessible, according to Purohit. To capture this opportunity, IT companies will need reliable and skilled talent to develop solutions.

Wipro’s Kalmanker said the company has a robust enterprise-wide AI talent management plan in place, which includes both hiring talent as well as a well-developed AI curriculum to train employees at the Wipro AI Academy.

“Our approach also includes scholarships for Ph. Ds at globally renowned academic institutions. These are for research programmes that attempt to solve complex business problems through innovations in generative AI,” he added.

According to Srivastava, there will be a big demand for AI talent across levels including strategists, solution architects, implementation specialists, model developers, model trainers, training data preparers, and end-to-end ML (machine learning) lifecycle specialists, to name a few.

“While hiring will be a channel for talent acquisition, there will be equal, if not more focus on talent up-skilling and cross-skilling. This will help retain contextual organisational knowledge while ensuring viable labour economics,” Srivastava said, speaking of TCS’ plans.

Concerns on privacy and cyber security
Companies like TCS are also exploring the use of generative AI to assist their own employees, though cyber security risks remain a concern.

In an earlier interaction with Moneycontrol, TCS CHRO Milind Lakkad had said, “We are looking into what generative AI means in the context of an enterprise, not just from the standpoint of what the operating model will be, but also what will be the role of an employee versus the role of an AI co-worker.”

He had added that with generative AI being used, there are also discussions underway about safeguarding intellectual property (IP), security, etc. With AI bots like ChatGPT, there are concerns about the code (the IP) getting leaked when auto-generating code, or malicious code getting created.

“With new tools come new concerns and security risks. High on the list of concerns for cybersecurity practitioners is the possibility that ChatGPT could be used to generate malicious code. This means many more people could create malware, potentially leading to many more attacks and breaches,” Infosys said in a blog post.

While there is demand for generative AI-based solutions, companies are also worried about its implications. This has already led some firms to regulate its use, or ban the technology entirely.

Firms like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo have banned ChatGPT across their offices globally. Moneycontrol

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