interview | prakash Mallya Industry

Intel’s focus is on innovation around AI, PCs and 5G

BENGALURU, KARNATAKA, 14/11/2016: Prakash Mallya, Director – Asia, Datacentre Group, Intel Technology Asia Pte Ltd., at a photo shoot in Bengaluru on November 14, 2016. Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar   | Photo Credit: SOMASHEKAR G R N

From personal computers (PCs) to servers to IoT devices, Intel has made chips for all of them and continues to chug on. And, this is the reason why the company with a 50-year history globally and a 20-year track record in India is staying relevant despite evolving technologies, said Prakash Mallya MD, Sales and Marketing Group, Intel India in an interview. “We have succeeded because we kept an open mind, taken risks and evolved over a period of years,” he said. Edited excerpts:

How has the company evolved over the years?

If you look at our portfolio, we started as a memory company. Then disruption happened. From memory to micro processor, it was a risk for us at that time because we had not done it. For 50 years, we have stayed at the core of innovation for the industry. So, innovation has been the cornerstone of our company. We started as PC company, 100% of our business was PC not so distant in the past. If you look now, we have evolved from that state to 55% of the business from PCs and 45% from data centre, storage, IOT. We also have several smaller businesses like drones.

Fifty years is a very long time to be in tech industry and to be a great company that we are and you can only do that by constantly evolving, constantly disrupting yourself. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Over a period, we have shifted our business to be in probe areas and that’s paying dividends. So, that to me, is a brilliant evolution and it’s a great example of successful corporate transitions in history.

Where have you reached now in India in terms of growth?

We started predominantly as a sales and marketing organisation and invested a lot in teacher training, skill development and nation building as part of business development. But today, in Bengaluru, we have the second largest design facility outside of [the] USA which has a footprint across so many different businesses. We have artificial intelligence skills, network skills, IOT skills there and client skills. The opportunity we are seeing in the country is very significant therefore we are not only investing from a business point of view but also investing for the longer term. We want to build the talent because what we have invested in the design centre plant be it Malaysia, Vietnam or India, it only does one thing that is fast-tracks the ecosystem downstream because people work with you and in turn, the ecosystem collaborates with you.

How important is India?

Very important. [As many as] 1.3 billion people, huge amount of digitalisation happening. A lot of data coming in, and the opportunity for that data to be used in terms of intelligence to improve a citizen’s quality of life. [It’s] Massive!

Where would you like to see yourself in the market?

We rank by opportunity. Therefore, if you look at it from that perspective, India as a market is a very strong business opportunity for us as a company. Everything data coming through – consumers, growing middle class, youngest country, GST and several other policies on 5G and artificial intelligence being put forward by the government – its become a very conclusive conducive climate for growth to take place.

How big is the Indian market and why is the opportunity?

I will give you a sense of the India numbers based on third party data. For PC’s on an annual basis its 10 million units a year approximately. For data centre business based on IBC, it’s about 150000 server units a year and that’s growing at single digit, one of the few markets in the world where we see server growth happen. If you look at cloud business in India its growing at very high double digit pace. Its about 25%, and is going to get to a billion revenue – the cloud industry revenue which promises to be a game changer for the country. These are a few numbers you can refer to in terms of market opportunity.

What is the current focus for Intel in India?

We need to make sure that the data centre, the cloud and the artificial intelligence associated with it shapes up in the right direction. The country is digitising at a pace like never before. You have so many applications that the government is deploying which private sector is deploying as well, this means a lot of data.

Today, less than a per cent of data globally is used meaningfully as intelligence. That needs to change for us to take advantage of all the data coming in. Our objective is to make sure that it is [made] possible in the country by the local ecosystem.

And that’s why one of our biggest efforts in the space of artificial intelligence is to create local talent. So, we are investing a lot of effort in skill and talent development to democratise AI, to make it lower cost and easy to implement. PCs and servers all became pervasive because we could do that along with partners and system. We would like to do the same thing in artificial intelligence.

The second is 5G which can be a game changer for the country. Our biggest emphasis is 5G for now. The network transformation is very important for service providers. We are collaborating industry wide as well, be it Tech Mahindra for example, globally Nokia Ericsson, to make sure the products and solutions that we offer in 5G are best in class. We are working very closely with the government so that the standards and definition of 5G is consistent globally. That is therefore 5G, because if you upscale the network in the country – the connectivity of devices not only on phones but other devices like point of sale machines, surveillance cameras to smart factory automation systems! All can happen on that fast-paced network. This a huge priority for us.

If you look at the other elements of it that really feeds into strong networks, artificial intelligence ecosystems, the area of cloud will evolve very rapidly. You want to invest in local development of cloud service providers because they can cater to government as well as private sector demand. We also want to make sure the individual consumers or small and medium businesses who must evolve based on GST implementation and must adopt automation, they take advantage of our PC and PC related innovations to bring that to bear. Therefore, we must provide the best in class offering for consumers to take advantage of education, entertainment, virtual reality or gaming on a PC.

Similarly, we would like to have solutions for SMEs to help them automate their business to stay compliant with GST and compete well with their competitors in the market place and do better. That would be if we are able to evolve all SME’s to adopt technology faster, I think the nation will be very well served.

These are therefore some of the areas – AI, 5G to upgrade network, associated PC and PC-related innovation for business plus cloud that would make sure the businesses come together.

What solutions do you have for SMEs?

The SME solution license has been given to multiple players. All of them have their solutions. We have our customers also from HP to iBall who have their hardware platform. So, our objective is to marry the hardware with the software solutions making it possible for SMEs to adopt and at the same time work with out customers and software solution providers to train SMEs to take advantage and use it very well so that they are compliant with it. That’s just the base line, when they automate their systems they can compete with competitors.


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