Digital adoption has become a significant differentiator: CTO, IBM India

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on July 04, 2021

Subram Natarajan shares his insights into how the firm is helping manufacturing companies to adapt to Industry 4.0

The Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 uses modern smart technology for automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices. In an interview with BusinessLine, Subram Natarajan, CTO and Director, Technical Sales, IBM Technology Sales, India/South Asia, shares his insights into how the Big Blue is helping manufacturing companies to adapt to Industry 4.0 during and post Covid-19 period.

How has the pandemic impacted technology adoption among Indian enterprises?

Digital adoption among enterprises has become a significant differentiator. The pandemic has taught businesses to be prepared and operate effectively even during an unanticipated crisis and be agile, resilient, and secure. By leveraging exponential technologies like cloud, data and artificial intelligence (AI), enterprises have been able to seamlessly engage with customers and employees in both physical and digital domains. According to a recent IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study, the majority of CEOs surveyed in India see technological factors, market factors and regulatory concerns among the most important external forces that will affect their business in the next few years.

Can you cite a few instances of how Indian companies have leveraged technology to navigate the challenges of the pandemic?

For IBM, one of the focus areas during the pandemic was to ensure seamless business continuity for our clients and provide robust disaster recovery solutions to minimise the impact of the disruption. This also included enabling our clients’ remote workforce to be productive and providing access to appropriate tools and solutions. For example, at Mother Dairy, IBM not only ensured 100 per cent availability of the infrastructure during the lockdown but also ensured a strong security compliance process adherence. During this critical period, IBM enabled work-from-home for Mother Dairy employees. Similarly, for Amul, IBM ensured that the entire IT infrastructure was up and running 24x7.

How are you working with industries perceived to be quite late adopters of IT?

IBM has many years of experience implementing domain-specific applications based on sophisticated business processes. Successful manufacturers have undertaken an ongoing modernisation journey from traditional infrastructure to more of a software-driven, modern, automated, flexible and resilient setup. This will help them to become intelligent factories. We are working with a 102-year-old largest urban cooperative bank to manage their workload and provide a better customer experience. Customers’ expectations these days have increased the demand for uninterrupted bank services. The bank moved from its existing in-house core banking application to Finacle’s latest version of IBM Power Systems.

What is the kind of work that IBM is carrying out for public sector banks?

Many industries have begun deploying cloud and AI solutions to improve their business and operational efficiencies. As one size does not fit all, IBM Systems allow organisations the flexibility to run their core workloads with an option to scale in and scale out as per their requirement. The server technology is designed to take up modernisation of the workloads on the same system allowing clients to use the public cloud as an extension to their on-premise capability. Today, 11 out of 13 PSBs are running their mission-critical workloads on IBM Power Systems. In addition, with the government of India announcing the amalgamation of 10 PSBs into four megabanks, the banks had to refresh their compute and storage. All of the 4 resultant entities, have deployed IBM Power Systems to run their mission-critical workloads.

How is AI improving efficiency for the manufacturing segment?

By integrating AI, IoT, analytics and other connected technologies into manufacturers are initiating a new wave of efficiency. IBM is continually bringing innovations through the IBM Watson offerings that helps organisations better understand the language of business, automate processes and IT, and drive trust in their AI outcomes. The Maximo Application Suite is built on IBM’s decades of leadership in the asset and operations management space, providing a closed-loop model, from capturing and analysing data to providing prescriptive maintenance actions. For instance, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages has collaborated with IBM to implement Manufacturing Automation and Excellence Programme (Maxpro) — a collection of several IT solutions including IBM Maximo — at their Sanand plant in Gujarat. The fact-based real-time analysis of data, instant availability of information and interconnectivity of machines is helping the factory redefine efficiency and become more agile.

Published on July 04, 2021

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