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'AI will be more impactful than ever, transforming how we do business'

By Ayushman Baruah
March 20, 2024 11:00 IST
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'Responsible AI, which adheres to the principles of explainability, fairness, robustness, transparency, and privacy, will gain importance.'

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters

Globally, IBM's consulting revenue was up 5 per cent, compared to its software business, which grew only 2 per cent in constant currency for the October-December quarter.

Rishi Aurora, managing partner, IBM Consulting India and South Asia, talks about the growth drivers, the relevance of partnerships, and the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI (GenAI) over email with Ayushman Baruah/Business Standard.

Given that IBM's consulting revenue was up 5 per cent in the fourth quarter, are you seeing increased traction in the consulting space?

We are at a time when AI-powered digital transformation is accelerating and pervasive.

Every organisation is looking to leverage technology to transform the way they meet customer demands, operate their key processes, and compete.

To harness the power of AI and Cloud, clients want vendor-agnostic solutions that work with the entire range of their existing information technology (IT) infrastructures, allowing them to develop once and deploy anywhere.

This has been the sweet spot for IBM Consulting as clients require the right technology solutions, skills, and support to execute and succeed.

At IBM Consulting, we focus on assisting clients with strategy, operating models, business value tracking, AI governance, technology foundations, change management, and adoption.

What are the key drivers of growth in consulting?

The main drivers of IBM Consulting's growth have been factors that make us unique.

First, no other consulting provider can offer the scientific advantage that our clients gain from having access to IBM Research and our close connection with IBM's WatsonX, AI, and automation technologies, as well as the Red Hat hybrid Cloud platform.

Second, many players in the consulting industry are focused on short-term value extraction and have been advising customers on siloed and off-the-shelf products and are not thinking about a project in the broader context of their client's responsibility to partners, people, and the planet like IBM Consulting.

Finally, IBM Consulting has a clear intent to leverage a full ecosystem of partners alongside IBM Technology.

By working out newer ways to collaborate with our partners, we are expanding not just our ecosystem but are driving better value for our clients.

This approach is driving revenue for us, as we see our strategic partnerships with independent software vendors like Adobe, Salesforce, and SAP, and hyperscalers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, growing in solid double digits globally.

What is your outlook for the IT industry this year?

In 2023, we witnessed a surge in AI proof-of-concepts.

In 2024, we will see organisations moving from plus-AI to AI-plus. This has resulted in conversations moving from IT to the C-suite.

We are also looking at the deepening impact of AI on the workforce where, according to a recent IBV (IBM Institute for Business Value) study, 80 per cent of C-suite executives expect that GenAI will fundamentally transform their organisation's workflow and how people do their jobs.

Our clients have experienced the highest impact use cases in customer service, application modernisation, and talent management.

However, achieving value with AI requires ensuring transparency and governance across the entire AI lifecycle, which will remain a key focus in 2024.

Responsible AI, which adheres to the principles of explainability, fairness, robustness, transparency, and privacy, will gain importance as an integral part of AI design and deployment.

At IBM Consulting, our goal is to scale AI responsibly and securely, allowing our experts to focus on delivering value and addressing complex challenges for clients. 2024 will be a pivotal year for building trust in the positive potential of AI.

Apart from GenAI, which other technologies is IBM betting on, especially from India?

At IBM, we continue to double down on new and future-generation technologies like AI, hybrid Cloud, cybersecurity, and quantum computing.

A great validation of this was when our extended teams signed path-breaking memoranda of understanding with the Government of India to accelerate innovation in AI, semiconductor, and quantum technology.

Hybrid Cloud continues to be a key growth driver, as reflected in the double-digit growth of our Red Hat business, propelled by both public and private sectors.

Our IBM Consulting Cybersecurity Services are helping clients align and execute their cybersecurity strategy powered by a global delivery model of expertise, technology, and ecosystem partnerships.

What factors are driving growth for you specifically in the Indian market?

Let me give you a quick lay of the land as I see it.

A recent Confederation of Indian Industry report suggests that India's growth can skyrocket by tapping into its demographic dividend, driven by 66 per cent of the total population being below the age of 35.

Combine this with a strong gross domestic product outlook of 6.5 per cent forecast for the next two years by the International Monetary Fund.

Then there is the Digital India programme and exponential policy framework like the recent Union Budget that's pushing India's growth to a $5 trillion economy.

Finally, with 5G broadening its reach, AI will be more impactful than ever, transforming how we do business.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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