Artificial Intelligence the buzz word in start-up ecosystems

Artificial Intelligence the buzz word in start-up ecosystems

AI and machine learning are diversifying human thinking in India and around the world, writes an industry expert.

Unless you have been burrowed deep underground for the last couple of years, you would have most likely heard of artificial intelligence (AI). Advanced technologies like AI and machine learning have gone beyond human intelligence and offer solutions in areas like e-commerce, fintech, healthcare, education, surveillance amongst others. The bare fact is that this new category of intelligence is undoubtedly diversifying human thinking rather than replacing it as some of us fear. Global tech hubs are flooded with Start-ups using these technologies to disrupt their industry or sector. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), widespread adoption of cognitive systems and AI across industries will drive worldwide revenues for the AI industry from nearly $8 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020.

AI took the world by storm last year when Tech titans Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg couldn't agree on the technology that could define our times. The discussion around this are still taking global start-ups ecosystem by storm with no conclusion in sight. In the Indian start-up ecosystem as well, AI as a technology was the most talked about in 2017.

It was not just the private stakeholders in the Indian ecosystem who are keen on the technology, but the government of India and its organisations are closely looking into this technology and have allocated more than $30 million for work on the technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain and 3D Printing.

The Niti Aayog in June 2018 came out with a discussion paper on the 'National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence' #AIFORALL. The report has clearly identified that the national AI strategy needs to be premised on a framework which is adapted to India's unique needs and aspirations, while at the same time, is capable of achieving the country's full potential of leveraging AI developments. As part of this national strategy, Niti Aayog has covered sectors like Healthcare, Agriculture, Smart Mobility, Retail, Manufacturing, Energy, Smart Cities, Education and Skilling. The strategy paper correctly recognises that India is lagging behind China and the US when it comes to AI development. While the strategy is only a framework at the moment, larger budget allocations are expected to follow which shall give the right impetus and support from the government for the sector.

According to an Accenture, AI has the potential to add $957 billion to India′s economy in 2035. Sensing this immense opportunity ahead, according to Zinnov's research, there are more than 200 AI start-ups in India are today innovating and creating AI-based solutions for various industries. These start-ups have attracted about $200 million+ funding in 2017. A recent report by PeopleStrong indicates that more than 50 per cent of Indian retail companies will be operating on AI by 2020. These figures are also indicative that India has embraced the technology to its best use across industries.

We certainly hope that India can make the most of artificial intelligence - both for the well-being of its citizens and to ensure the health of its economy. The next five years will be a time to set both the pace and trend of AI adoption in the country.

India Calling...

AI has added a personal touch to the way we shop and trade. From the growing number of self-checkout cash registers to advanced security checks at the airport; artificial intelligence is just about everywhere. AI in e-commerce is enhancing the entire buy-sell experience for both buyers and sellers. AI is beginning to embed itself into all aspects of our lives.

This month we are back to the India Calling series, however, this month we focus on a Finnish start-up operating both in UK and India.

Klevu, founded in 2013, hails from Finland, the country of a thousand lakes and white lilies. Klevy is a small, nimble, and diverse team. People from three continents speaking more than seven languages bring a blended cross-cultural experience to Klevu. It started with the challenge to provide online retailers a world - class search technology that connects shoppers to the exact products they are looking for. Klevu wants online stores of all types and sizes to have the most advanced yet flexible and affordable in-store search.

In this age of ecommerce giants like Amazon, Klevu basically helps retailer remain relevant through innovations that bring excellent search experience for shoppers.

The team aims to become the most preferred site search technology for flagship brands and retailers and build a billion-dollar SaaS technology company that pioneers product discovery experience.

Klevu's mission is to make most advanced site search and offer it in packages that are designed for every online store, no matter their budget or size! Klevu search was developed so that all online businesses can employ search technology that delivers an intuitive, responsive and enjoyable shopping experience for consumers. This AI-powered smart search connects shoppers with the products they want to buy. The AI does not just generate sales but learns in real time and works on any platform.

Co-founded by three men with doctorates and computer science background, Niraj, Nilay and Jyrki, this global Finnish company brings a paradigm shift to search for online shops globally. Niraj is the CTO and is an active contributor to the open source text mining platform, GATE. Nilay is a CEO and contributes to the eCommerce community through his thought leadership and software-led innovations.

Jyrki is the SVP and brings executive experience to Klevu and ensures strategic focus, and effective operative management in Klevu. Klevu differentiates by demonstrating sales growth from search-led shopping. Klevu′s success is driven by AI-powered linguistic technology, global focus, passionate team and excellent customer support. Klevu′s approach to automation keeps licence fees very competitive and integration time very short, something that often extremely important to businesses. The customers of Klevu are quite diverse ranging from Royal Academy of Art to Osprey, London, to Jack Daniel's whisky. Each of their customers have recorded an increase between 20 per cent to 165 per cent in revenues with the use of the technology.

Klevu has strong presence in India as well. The Indian team is very important to the Klevu family, in addition to its team in Helsinki, Atlanta and London. Niraj personally spent two years in India to build technical acumen of the team. With an exceptionally high retention rate due to their HR and cultural practices, Klevu aims to double the India team from its current state in the coming year. When technology companies the world over struggle to strike the right gender balance, Klevu India boasts that almost a 50 per cent of their employees are female.

The growth of global ecommerce coupled with its innovative technology will definitely make this Finnish start-up a global billion-dollar unicorn.

Dr Param Shah is Director - UK, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

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