Saurabh Kumar on the power of AI and Deloitte’s new AI Institute

30 March 2022 10 min. read

At the start of 2022, Deloitte launched its AI Institute in India. Three months following the launch, spoke with Saurabh Kumar, a partner at the firm and one of the drivers of the AI Institute, on the promise of artificial intelligence and how Deloitte’s AI Institute brings together leaders from the ecosystem to drive change.

What are the emerging trends in AI applications that are bringing innovation to the industry?

Through our joint study with NASSCOM, we observed that Indian early movers in the field of AI are using AI applications across key business functions such as supply chain, operations, cyber security, and customer service.

Of the 80 leaders from Global Inhouse Capability Centers (GCC) who were surveyed, more than 60 percent respondents said their companies have started embedding AI / ML into their business processes. About 26 percent of these respondents indicated that the AI / ML technologies are driving change across lines of business.

Saurabh Kumar, Partner, Deloitte

This signals the maturing of AI implementations beyond the experimentation phase. AI-driven technologies are providing a significant positive impact to every sector at an unprecedented rate.

A multitude of emerging trends in AI – conversational AI, robotics, computer vision, speech recognition, predictive analytics with AI, AI for security, and more will drive business growth in the future.

In 2022, we expect to see organizations using edge computing and AI applications to sync real-time data for better and faster decision making. The use of conversational AI is expected to transform customer service across sectors; by enhanced capabilities of handling and analyzing complex unstructured information.

AI-driven cyber security is supporting industries in monitoring users, tracking unusual behavior, and identification of people through facial recognition, audio and video authentication. At the heart of computer vision lies AI inspection used for checking quality standards, temperature screening and anomaly detection.

Applications of AI based computer vision are being used to augment the features of a smart city. The use of AI applications in urban planning, public safety, distribution of utilities is expected to grow further amidst the rapid urbanization in India.

What is the current state of AI regulations and policies?

In the last few years, we have observed that Indian public entities are investing in AI use cases to transform their strategic, operational and commercial outlook. It is thus evident that the government is keen to promote AI and relevant emerging technologies in India at this point.

Currently, there are no specific regulations on artificial intelligence and machine learning in India, but the existing IT acts and regulations are applicable on these technologies. Documents / whitepapers by NITI Aayog signal the need for trustworthiness of AI and regulatory policies particular to it soon. The discussion papers highlight challenges that affect society such as job losses, hate propaganda on social media, bias, etc.

The report also points out the ethical challenges with AI, the most widespread issue of data privacy, transparency, inherent biases, and discrimination in AI models.

As more organizations adopt AI, leaders grapple with ethical decisions about its design and use. AI regulations will eventually address ethics concerns, but until then the Deloitte AI Institute is working to bridge the ethics gap.

Deloitte has developed a multidimensional AI framework to help organizations develop ethical safeguards across six key dimensions – transparent and explainable, fair, and impartial, robust and reliable, respectful of privacy, safe and secure, and responsible and accountable.

What is Deloitte and what does the Institute do?

Global Deloitte AI Institute was launched to focus on AI research, eminence and applied innovation across industries. Following suit, local member firms in US, Canada, UK, China and now India have launched the AI Institute in their respective markets to connect with local AI ecosystem and propel the adoption of the technology.

Deloitte AI Institute is a resource center of our point of view on AI and related themes to deliver thought leadership, insight-led conversations, showcase use cases, and a practical fact-based view of AI implications from an India perspective. It has been setup with an ambition to assist businesses to traverse the broad, dynamic, and fast-expanding AI ecosystem and leverage maximum value out of it.

The Institute offers thought leadership in AI applications and innovation across sectors, promoting human-machine collaboration. Its mission is to foster discussion and development of AI/ML in India, as well as to inspire innovation and evaluate challenges to AI deployment.

We will collaborate with a diverse ecosystem of academic research institutions, start-ups, entrepreneurs, innovators, mature AI product leaders, and AI visionaries to scrutinize key areas of artificial intelligence, such as risks, policies, ethics, the future of work, and talent, and applied AI use cases.

How will the AI Institute facilitate advanced artificial intelligence innovation and human machine collaboration for enterprises research?

Our goal is to blend Deloitte’s deep experience in applied AI with a robust network of top industry thought leaders and academicians; start-ups; research and development groups; entrepreneurs; and innovators.

This network of specialists and researchers, combined with Deloitte’s depth of applied AI knowledge, understanding of pain points across industries and sectors, and critical success factors – whether it is identifying use cases, understanding industry specific ecosystems, scaling from AI proof-of-concepts or securing AI systems – can help organizations transform quickly with AI.

The Institute will focus on building ecosystem partnerships, providing insights and case studies from a variety of industries, universities, research, and companies. We aim to build an AI community of research and shared experience, and ignite conversations on applied AI with the brightest minds in the business to benefit the Indian industry.

With our unique experience, investments in AI and work with top organizations globally, we will provide a pragmatic and on-ground view of current and future AI trends, discuss the implications, and offer methodologies to get started with AI and deliver the impact that matters.

What is the relevance of AI institute in the Indian market? How will the “Institute” be positioned?

A discussion paper from NITI Aayog demonstrates how AI can be successfully applied to five principal sectors in India: healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities and infrastructure, smart mobility and transportation, to benefit the country’s general population. For successful adoption of AI, we believe that it is prudent to cultivate a network of advocacy partnerships while ensuring re / up-skilling the workforce on AI / ML and related topics.

Our ‘State of AI in India’ report indicates a positive outlook towards adoption of AI solutions. Most of the surveyed organizations feel the need for a well-defined strategy for achieving success through AI, find themselves not adequately prepared to address risks related to AI, and witness the shortage of niche AI skillsets.

To help these organizations with Deloitte’s global expertise and thought leadership, the AI Institute is of paramount importance in removing the barriers to artificial intelligence adoption in the country.

With our unique experience, investments in AI, collaboration with other ecosystem players such as researchers and academia; and work with top organizations, we believe the Deloitte AI Institute can ignite transformational applied AI solutions for organizations in India.

How is the AI Institute serving as a platform for the evolution of AI technology?

Deloitte AI Institute’s mission is to expand India’s understanding of AI, guide the trustworthy development of powerful AI solutions and facilitate knowledge-sharing by building a network of like-minded organizations. At the moment, start-ups, research and academic institutions, and businesses themselves are heavily invested in discovering multiple new AI-based innovative solutions. Deloitte AI Institute India will integrate these efforts to help organisations transform quickly with AI.

Data is an asset aiding this transformation. Virtualisation and remote working have generated large volumes of data that both public and private organisations can analyse to serve multiple business objectives such as increasing revenue, reducing costs, enhancing customer experience, etc. The AI Institute will aim to develop robust AI solutions driving pertinent business goals.

Certain industries like financial services and telecommunications are ahead of the curve with AI adoption, while there is huge potential in large parts of transport and logistics, retail, education, healthcare, agriculture as well as in policy making and public administration.

Through the AI Institute ecosystem or network, we aim to connect these industries with academia, research groups, and relevant start-ups to generate novel AI applications with far reaching impact. For instance, AI applications may use data, voice, text, and pictures to predict or classify specific outcomes, translating to business actions and growth.

How emerging technologies are helping in innovating business models?

We live in a time of unprecedented change that is disrupting the way we work and live. Companies have to innovate, or else they run the risk of becoming irrelevant. New technologies can help every business to maximize efficiency, enter new markets, or develop entirely new products or business models.

Emerging technologies like AI/ML, edge computing, blockchain and NFTs are increasingly being used by organizations across their value chains, driving operational excellence and business performance in multiple areas from products and services to supply chains and key stakeholders such as employees, partners, and customers.

Organizations are automating, abstracting, and outsourcing their business processes to increasingly powerful tech-tools. In doing so, they are enabling their workforce with abilities to tackle innovative projects that deliver competitive differentiation. For example, blockchain is enabling organizations to automate processes that occur between third parties, eliminating the need for manual data exchanges, data entry, reporting.

AI is acting as a force multiplier in helping to guide strategies, improve processes, shape business models, rethink customer experiences, and even find cures.

A common business model transformation that we see is emerging technologies are enabling product-based organizations to shift to a service-based model for providing their products, capabilities, and tools. Anecdotally, we recently helped a major tyre-manufacturing company transition from a product-based model to a pay-per-use model.