Infosys scouting for AI start-ups to overcome talent crunch

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on December 25, 2018

AI tools will help reduce the need to employ a large number of experts, according to Infosys   -  kynny

Company open to both partnership and investment

Finding talent in certain areas is as hard for some of the biggest names in the Indian IT sector, as it is for a small firm.

To counter the challenge, Infosys is now betting on new-age technologies to help address its talent woes .

“We are actively scouting for start-ups which bring different capabilities in the areas of text and speech processing, which are very vital to a lot of AI capabilities required for our clients in the near future,” Satish HC, EVP - Head Global Services - Data and Analytics, told BusinessLine.

Infosys is specifically scouting for start-ups which are already 1-2 years into their journey, and have beta versions of their products up and running.

The company will then run proofs of concept with these start-ups, and if the solution works for Infosys, it’ll either partner with them and take them to market, or invest in them.

“We look at it as access to innovation, to take it as a solution to our clients. It can be as simple as an alliance partnership. If we see big potential, we may even participate in their Series-B or Series-C funding for their own scale-up. And then at some point, if it makes sense, we may not be averse to acquisitions; but our fundamental focus would on a partnership or an investment to have a deeper collaboration,” said Satish.

Specific aspects

Within AI, Infosys is looking specifically at three areas: text processing, speech processing, and democratisation of AI and machine learning.

According to Satish, availability of talent in the AI space is a big challenge the entire industry is faced with, and that is where tools that democratise AI can help.

“We are in fact talking to one of the top global universities. They have an initiative to democratise AI and machine learning, so that we don’t need an army of people,” said Satish.

With tools that can democratise AI, instead of needing 10 data scientists, Infosys could be able to function with just two.

The rest will be provided by the platform or technology tool-set.

“The other advantage is I can do this with lesser use of experience, because you can’t find PhDs. I can run with one PhD and four raw computer science graduates straight out of school, who are trained on the work. So that is the kind of impact we are looking at, and based on what we did for the analytics work-bench for regular data science, we see 30-40 per cent improvement in productivity,” Satish said.

Current projects

Infosys started investing in AI and cloud technologies about two years ago, and already has its AI platform called Nia, which was launched in April last year. In September, the company partnered with Google to build ‘Data Native Intelligent Enterprise’ powered by the ‘Infosys Digital Brain’ on the Google Cloud Platform.

Satish insists that despite tools that will cut down on the need to hire an army of data scientists, Infosys still need to hire a number of engineers in the space, as these tools will only ease the pressure to scout for experts in large numbers..

Published on December 25, 2018

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