In the rapidly changing landscape of enterprise IT, an ever-increasing trend is for large IT service providers to build and incorporate new disruptive technologies into their offerings. As the future workplace continues to evolve at a rapid pace thanks to huge increases in readily available data, enhanced processing capabilities, and new breakthroughs in AI – we’re seen to be in a ‘Big Bang’ moment for future developments.

We managed to speak with Dr. Harrick Vin, Chief Scientist at Tata Consultancy Services – a global leader in IT Services to hear more on their breakthrough into the world of AI with the new Ignio platform. Ignio is being implemented by Nationwide Building Society, already a long-standing TCS customer, as part of a program to transform its technology and operations. As the world’s largest building society, Nationwide delivers a wide range of products to its customers and recognises the importance of deploying new services rapidly and increasing the resilience of its digital solutions.

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Dr. Vin, TCS is a well known IT Services company, could you give some background on the evolution towards the focus on AI and Automation?

Sure, we’re in the midst of what we call as the ‘Digital Age’, in which the rate at which technology is evolving and is introduced in the Enterprise landscape is increasing rapidly. These technologies are enabling Enterprises to become more flexible, agile, and efficient; yet, in most enterprises, the way these technologies are implemented and operated continues to remain very manual, reliant heavily upon tacit knowledge and intuition. At TCS we have embarked upon a ‘Digital re-imagination’ journey. In this, we want to look at an Enterprise in it’s entirety and identify areas of the business and workforce which can be ‘re-imagined’ by incorporating AI and automation.

You have launched Ignio as the ‘worlds first neural automation platform’ – can you explain a little more on what this is and how it works?

We’re striving to develop technologies that can really benefit Enterprises in automating human-centric tasks, and have pioneered ‘Services as Software’ which is different to Software as a Service – it changes the way we consume software.

Ignio replaces traditional manual and reactive services involving complex workflows with a context-aware, intelligent, proactive and autonomous software. With ignio, work simply gets done, it does not flow. ignio performs most of the activities autonomously, and collaborates with people when it does not know how to perform a task. This changes the role of people from doers of work to trainers of ignio and handlers of exceptions.

Ignio was developed to handle problems and tasks end to end whilst collaborating with people; and is built in four layers.

The recent announcement that Nationwide has chosen the Ignio platform to help in delivering intelligent automation is very exciting, how did this project come about and are there similar use cases already in play with other customers?

The deployment of ignio at Nationwide Building Society is part of a larger program to transform technology and operations, and prepare for the business of tomorrow. We’re currently also deploying ignio in more than a dozen customers spanning Banking and Financial Services, Retail, Manufacturing, and Utilities – the uptake and interest from our existing as well as new customers in ignio is growing rapidly. We will continue to share these announcements throughout 2016.

The Ignio is effectively a SaaS platform and can either be implemented on premise or on the cloud – where do you see the most potential, and why?

Yes, ignio can be deployed in both an on-premise and a cloud-based SaaS model. As of now, we’re seeing a greater preference from customers toward on-premise deployments, driven primarily by data privacy and security concerns. By tapping into a wide range of enterprise data sources, in a matter of weeks, ignio will likely know more about the organization than any single person in the Enterprise.

Given the rapid advancements in AI deployments over the past 12 months, what do you see as the biggest challenges, which still lie ahead?

Keeping pace with and conquering the rising complexity in Enterprise technology and operations. As data continues to grow exponentially and Moore’s Law is still in full force, Enterprises will continue to introduce new technologies rapidly to support their business and operational activities. AI tools and deployments will need to keep pace with this to remain relevant.

How is TCS positioned to tackle these, and where are you investing most R&D resource over the next 5 years?

At TCS we believe in ‘Digital re-imagination’ of Enterprises and the workplace, and so we’re investing into developing and applying new digital forces to every aspect of Enterprise business. Automation will cross over all services and all domains in the future. Artificial Intelligence is going to enable a whole world of opportunity for Enterprises. We are very excited to be part of the journey.