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We are deeply engaged in putting technology to work to fight the virus: Intel India head

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on June 10, 2020 Published on June 10, 2020

Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India, and Vice-President, Data Platforms Group, Intel Corporation

Intel’s Indian arm is working closely with government agencies to develop inexpensive Covid-19 testing and coronavirus genome sequencing. In an interview with BusinessLine, Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India, and Vice-President, Data Platforms Group, Intel Corporation, talks about her work as the head of the Nasscom taskforce for the Covid-19 platform, and how her company is adapting to the “new normal”. Edited excerpts:

What are the initiatives Intel in India is involved in, with its technology partners, to combat Covid-19?

A multi-disciplinary team of engineers from Intel India is leveraging Intel solutions and collaborating with the ecosystem to lead tech initiatives for Covid-19. Intel India is 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 and coronavirus genome sequencing, to understand its epidemiology and conduct AI-based risk stratification for patients with co-morbidities.

As the head of the Nasscom taskforce for the COVID-10 platform, which are the areas that your team is involved with?

I am leading a Nasscom taskforce for the Covid-19 India Platform that includes participation from Nasscom members and other companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Fractal, Infosys, Mapbox, Microsoft, Mindtree, SAP, Sprinklr, and Wipro Limited. The aim of this taskforce is to build an application ecosystem and multi-cloud back-end infrastructure to enable population-scale Covid-19 diagnostics, to predict outbreaks and to improve medical care management and administration. An end-to-end Covid-19 platform developed by this taskforce was delivered to the Government of Telangana recently. The platform brings together solutions from multiple technology leaders and delivers more than 100 dashboards, across 30+ government and public datasets, with hundreds of thousands of data points to support the government in fighting this pandemic.

How is the organisation changing to adapt to a newer way of working? What changes are being brought about in terms of manpower, tech initiatives and engagement with clients?

Intel IT had to quickly embrace creative solutions that would enable scaling rapidly. To successfully pivot our workforce while maintaining business operations, we made numerous changes across design site operations, supply chain, sales and marketing, human resources and finance. We had to quickly adapt our formal processes in many areas to accelerate response such as making exceptions to our procurement processes, modifying on-boarding/off-boarding processes allowing employees to be virtual, etc. Our sales and marketing people had to shift to working with our customers and industry partners through virtual engagements and events. To provide a seamless and consistent experience, we had to fine-tune multiple platforms to both enable and accelerate collaboration.

Over the years, Intel has been focussing on transforming itself into a data-centric company from the earlier business mix of both data and PCs. With the sudden changes brought about by Covid-19, will there be a review of the current focus areas?

We are witnessing nothing short of a historic moment today in the adoption of remote collaboration and digital access to services across industry sectors. As the world tides over these difficult times, business continuity will need increased automation, safe manufacturing, and social distancing — all of which will require transformational technology to execute. The proliferation of the Internet and the cloud will continue to be the most efficient service delivery model. We need to collaborate with the government, academia, research community and industries and work together to develop solutions to unleash the potential of data-driven technology and transform business and society for the better. Intel is deeply engaged with these ecosystems in providing the tools and services that people around the world depend upon in their daily lives — and in putting technology to work toward understanding and fighting this virus.

As part of the CSR programme, Intel has said that it has started working with PC manufacturers to create the most sustainable and energy-efficient PC in the world, which removes carbon, water and waste in its design and use. How much of this kind of work gets done out of India? Are there any other CSR initiatives which will completely change the way Intel will operate across its centres?

For the first time, Intel has defined long-term Global Impact Challenges that expand its commitment in resources, expertise, global reach and influence beyond its operations to solve challenges that can only be addressed in collaboration across major organisations, industries and countries. These include:

Revolutionising health and safety with technology

Making technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness

Achieving carbon-neutral computing to address climate change

These are part of our new 2030 strategy and goals for continued progress for the next decade — from achieving net positive water use, 100 per cent green power and zero waste to landfills across Intel’s global manufacturing operations to doubling the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles and scaling the impact of our supply chain human rights programs.

How are Intel and its employees supporting local communities since the outbreak of coronavirus?

The maker community within Intel India has come together to design 3D printed parts for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields, after consultation and trials with local hospitals. These 3D printed components are now being used as templates for low-cost silicone-moulded plastic parts to be produced locally to address the shortage of PPE for healthcare workers.

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Published on June 10, 2020
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