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We will continue to build the benchmark IT architectures across AI & Deep Learning models: Ben Goodman, Dell EMC

In wake of data explosion, the role of AI and Deep Learning have become more crucial for enterprises. In an interaction with Express Computer, Ben Goodman, Vice President – Unstructured Data Solutions, APJ, Dell EMC, shares more details

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What’s the significance of the Indian market for Dell EMC?

India has been a great market for us for the last couple of years. It is not about clients or business partners; rather it’s all about the growing opportunities coming in the future from India. The rapid spur of digital transformation in India makes it a deep growth market. A big shift we have seen in India last year is that a lot of organisations were conceptualising around AI, deep learning, and machine learning.

Moreover, in the last few months, a lot of companies started realising these theoretical concepts to actual deployments. This trend is pervasive across all industries, but the use cases vary. For instance, in the financial services sector, organisations are using deep learning for credit card fraud preventions. Whereas in the telecommunication space, the focus is on automation, optimisation, and development.

Does this trend exist in other markets in this region as well?

Across APJ markets, we’re consistently witnessing the adoption of these technologies. In current times, the most adopted market in the world would be China, as there is a lot of work around automation and AI that has been already input in place in the country. Excluding China, India is definitely a fast and progressive country. In terms of the biggest challenges around big data and analytics, there wasn’t a clearly defined business outcome. However, as people evolve to big data and AI, organisations are getting smart by signing on to a specific business outcome that they want to derive. There is a specific return on investment that this program will yield.

The two main challenges for most organisations include the understanding of the outcome and access to the right data to build a model that provides the desired outcome. The plethora of data is huge and helping organisations to get access to that data to run analysis on it is critical. Secondly, once they have access to the data, they need to build the right model. If you are going to ensure better customer experience to drop revenues and improve profitability, you are more likely to invest in more to drive an outcome faster.

Besides China, are there other markets which have become big enough in the last few years?

India has been witnessing the adoption of deep learning and AI, because of the government’s focus on digital initiatives. The Digital India initiative is unique. Similarly, China’s unique program is about e-commerce. At the same time, in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, there are numerous companies which are starting for the very first time and they have the ability to become digital companies. Some of these emerging economies are starting to invest in technologies such as AI, in order to scale up the business. From an overall market perspective, it’s not about the race. It’s more about how different countries are prioritising and leveraging AI.

With data being a key driver of digital transformation, how are you helping organisations with your innovations?

I look after the unstructured data solution division, which has been the key to the game of digital transformation. The more diverse dataset you have, the more comprehensive platform you can build. The unstructured data solutions that Dell EMC offers are Isilon, ECS and many more are designed to gather data and give customers the ability to centralise and scout the splurge of data. Our main focus is on giving organisations a real-time access the maximum volume of data that they need to analyse real-time, in order to deliver meaningful outcomes. The mission of the unstructured data solutions team at Dell EMC is to focus on providing meaningful solutions to our clients to tackle the data deluge with ease. Recently, we also did a partnership with NVIDIA that focused on giving high bandwidth to customers, so that the outcomes are delivered quickly.

Over the last 10-15 years, Isilon has been collecting more and more data from the customers quickly than any other platform in the world. NVIDIA’s mission is to focus on customers to help them analyse and build models as well as learn from the data. The partnership is very natural. We are the platform which people are using to bring their data into their business. We believe that this partnership will give customers the best opportunity to centralise their data to analyse it at a real time and deliver faster results. NVIDIA and Dell have worked over many years, but with the hyper growth of AI in the market, this partnership will prove to be much fruitful for customers.

How will this further boost the AI initiatives taken by enterprises?

Enterprises can derive value from these datasets in two folds. Firstly, the benchmarking in reference architectures who are doing well will allow organisations to get to this faster. For example, for an organisation which already has an AR/AI ready architecture, the adoption of AI can be ready in as early as three weeks. This is where our partnerships come in handy. Each organisation has a different problem to solve, therefore, different models need to be built. It is no more plausible for organisations to use generic solutions/architectures.

What differentiates Dell EMC in the unstructured data market?

The number one differentiator is just the unparalleled scale. We have customers running 100s of petabytes and that kind of scale become really critical. For example, building VOLVOs self-driving cars requires 100s of petabytes of data to be run continuously. All of this is helping them to test models for their cars. Secondly, when we look at the unstructured data strategy, we look at the three pillars – streaming analytics, file, and object. Each of these grows independently and all of them are critical parts of the unstructured data solutions. Although the competition might have a few capabilities, but delivering all three together to our customers is what Dell distinctly brings to the table. We believe that Dell EMC offers unique offerings that help organisations independently scale those areas without having the scale.

Could elaborate on your reference customers?

VOLVO’s wants to build the cars which have computers to take over the car if the driver falls asleep. That’s the case with Volvo Cars’ investment in Zenuity, a joint venture of Volvo Cars and Veoneer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Autoliv, Inc Zenuity will be developing advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving technologies that promise to take vehicle safety systems to a new level. In the auto industry, many manufacturers are investing heavily in AI, deep learning, etc. Similar is the case of the telco sector, because as the automotive industry moves ahead, it relies heavily on things like 5G networking to deliver data.

The auto industry would rank first, followed by the banking and telco sector and probably the government sector too, as governments invest majorly in public security, traffic analysis, etc. Emerging economies are looking to develop smarter cities, and one of the biggest things that they want to handle is garbage. AI will be used to understand how much garbage is being collected around in a region. This is a reality in the Indian market as well.

Considering the changing market dynamics, especially in terms of AI and deep learning, will there be new positions in the enterprises business, such as a Chief AI Officer?

I think the Chief Digital Officer is the Chief Deep Learning Officer or a Chief AI Officer for an organisation. AI is the term the industry is using right now as the digital transformation in the next couple of years will be much more defined. I believe that AI will form the foundation of any artificial transformation. It could be a legacy application transforming into a modernised one or it could be net new applications, generating net new revenue streams, net new services for the market. AI will become embedded in every application.

In wake of data explosion, there have been debates on the role of Data Scientists. Do you think that position has evolved?

The role of a data scientist is high in demand. I would say that it’s a full time job as they have the domain expertise ranging from actuarial models and science models and that definitely is a very unique skillset. The biggest challenge people face in deep learning programs and AI is that a lot of time is taken up in thinking. People automatically resist the model. But, when people understand what to do with the model, what’s behind the design of the model, they trust it a lot and they are able to generate more meaning from it. I believe at the grassroots level, every industry is going to be affected by AI and deep learning in the next couple of years.

How crucial is the role of your partner ecosystem and how are they equipped to address market requirements?

This is the right platform where the partner ecosystem and customers are getting the best out of each other. However, partners need to have the expertise. For example, if you have to do AI in financial services, then you need someone to understand the financial model, you will need some consultancy firms and software firm. India is witnessing some big investments by the partner ecosystem, the SI community, the partner community, and technology vendors like us to make the ecosystem ready and going.

Certain partners have certain domains. In India and across APJ, there are partners who have niche expertise who are helping organisations in similar matters.

What are your key thrust areas for the future?

We will continue to build the benchmark IT architectures across the various AI and deep learning models and continuously look to work with customers to create what they are going to need. We will continue to invest in our partner ecosystem. A lot of this will be around ecosystems which will help our partners to connect themselves with the right community, helping them develop curriculum and programs to educate people and also work with the industry. I am personally involved with the universities in Australia that are including deep learning and AI into not just IT courses, but the commerce courses and the engineering courses. Dell EMC will continue to work with the right partners simultaneously developing the partner ecosystem and facilitating customer engagement for smarter growth.

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