Inside Intel's AI Democratization Drive: Prakash Mallya, Intel

Having set the bar in the PC and data center space, Intel’s game plan for 2018 is built around powering AI, 5G and IoT, says Prakash Mallya, MD, Intel India.

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Perched right at the top of the stack, Intel currently powers 97% of data centers running artificial intelligence workloads. The tech giant has been strategically investing to nurture the AI ecosystem in India. 
A recent IDC survey commissioned by Intel revealed that nearly 75% of Indian organizations anticipate benefits in business process efficiency and employee productivity with the use of AI. Additionally, 64% of respondents believed that AI can increase revenues through targeted advertisements and improved sales. 
Just three years back, 70% of Intel’s business was driven by PCs. That number now stands at 50%. The remaining half of the business is driven by data centers, storage, AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). 
A conversation with Prakash Mallya, MD, Intel India, throws light on Intel’s vision for 2018 and what explains the company’s focus on emerging technologies. Mallya stated that Intel has set sights on key technologies like AI, IoT, 5G, AR/VR and connected vehicles.
Although Intel is firing on all cylinders to propel emerging tech, it hasn’t taken its eyes off its PC and data center business in the country. “The PC business is never going to die out. Look at India, which has 60 million PCs. The spread of smartphones is increasing, but that only helps with consumption, not creation,” said Mallya.
Intel launched its next-generation server platform, Skylake Purley. “You would see us using Skylake on network transformation and hybrid and private clouds. Besides the Skylake platform, we have Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) solutions. We also have storage solutions that complement data center offerings,” he said.

Potential torch-bearer
Mallya pointed out that India has the third-largest AI ecosystem in the world. Sectors like health, education, manufacturing, government, and transportation are apt for driving emerging technologies like AI, IoT and 5G.
Taking healthcare as an example, he said that the industry is expected to reach US$ 6 billion by 2021. India has started adopting remote medicine and relying on AI algorithms for diagnosis.

 

“What makes Intel uniquely positioned in the AI space is that we are an ecosystem-enabling technology player. We’ve done that in PCs and data centers, IoT, connectivity, and we’re absolutely committed to doing that in AI. The most important thing about our AI strategy is that it’s not linked to a single platform”

Prakash Mallaya

                                                      Prakash Mallya, MD - Intel India

“What makes Intel uniquely positioned in the AI space is that we are an ecosystem-enabling technology player. We’ve done that in PCs and data centers, IoT, connectivity, and we’re absolutely committed to doing that in AI. The most important thing about our AI strategy is that it’s not linked to a single platform,” said Mallya.
Intel’s ideology revolves around making the tools, technology, and software as simple to use as possible. Intel has played a fundamental role in making computing get to a point where a massive amount of data crunching is possible.
Mallya said he is confident about the growth of AI in India “because we come from a lineage of developers”. However, he emphasized on the need to have the right sources and quality of data before deploying AI processes. 

Data for AI
“To me, the right sources of data are very important. If you’re not collecting the right data, you may not be able to analyze the right outcome. To use AI, you need a large dataset. You’ll have to try and test it, that’s the only way you can get to better accuracy on the algorithms,” he explained.
Quite recently, Intel trained 15,000 people to equip them with the know-how for deploying AI-based projects. Mallya explained that the rationale behind training people on AI was to make it all-pervasive. “Our acquisition of Nervana is another solution that can help further the cause of AI for our partners,” he added.
With respect to 5G, Mallya highlighted that a robust, scalable and flexible network is fundamentally important. “The deployment of 5G will be driven by the need for very high volumes of data and highly responsive networks, from the cutting edge to the cloud,” opined Mallya.

“In India specifically, I’m really optimistic about the local startup ecosystem to be able to solve societal problems – from healthcare, to education, to agriculture. Armed with the right technologies, they can solve problems that even big companies cannot.”

The lack of common standards for technologies like IoT and 5G has been a constant source of concern for a lot of companies in the country, but Intel’s engagement with different sections of the industry puts them in a slightly better position.
Elaborating on this, Mallya said: “We engage with governments on standard definitions, we engage with telecom equipment providers like Nokia and Ericsson, and with end customers (telecom operators) for running network virtualization trials. The more people you involve and engage, the better is the opportunity for getting to a common standard.”
Since the inception of new-age technologies in the enterprise, Intel has remained committed to fostering a start-up ecosystem that fuels growth and innovation. 
“In India specifically, I’m really optimistic about the local start-up ecosystem to be able to solve societal problems – from healthcare to education, to agriculture. Armed with the right technologies, they can solve problems that even big companies cannot,” Mallya opined.
“There are a lot of opportunities to focus on the start-up ecosystem as it relates to innovation in the AI space. The other focus area would be infrastructure modernization to cater to the needs of newer solutions and services,” he added.