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May 26, 2016

More Than A Forum To Share Ideas. A Platform To Create Generations Of Idea-makers.

Posted by Sumit Virmani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:02 PM

Pharma's Omni-Channel Efforts Empower Patients

As all of Infosys prepares excitedly to host TEDx Bangalore at our campus on Sunday, May 29, I wanted us all to think once again, deeply, about the reasons why it's important to support initiatives like this. It is this very thinking that compelled us to bring the TEDx Anchor Program to India earlier this year.

In four years, India is set to become the world's youngest nation with almost two-thirds of its population being of working age. "Bursting with youthful energy" is a great way to describe India. But what would be even better is when we script a future where we can alter that description to read, "Bursting with youthful creative energy". Now, that would be something! In fact, it is just the thing we need.

This notion of creativity means so many different things to different people. But a simple way to think about it is as the ability to create. The ability to begin to imagine a perfect remedy to a real need. Not just faster, better or cheaper versions of systems and solutions that already exist, but something that takes us closer to a highly desirable ideal. This first step is only limited by our imagination. The next step is to spot all the elements - that are likely not there - but need to be brought together to turn that imagined scenario into reality. This act of seeing unseen possibilities is uniquely human. And the task of creation is fully accomplished once the knowledge, skills and expertise, to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle, are found and used to bring that which is imagined to life.

Today, there is little disagreement that this imagination, this act of creating is not really a thing that the systems and institutions that surround us actively encourage and nurture. Formal education with its many challenges has let this need remain grossly underserved. The mainstream culture of our workplaces, that then influences and shapes youngsters, predominantly focuses on gains in the 'here and now' often doing little more than rewarding adherence to best-practices and at best encouraging incremental improvements of all that has already been created. And yet, our desire to uncover the undiscovered survives. People hunger to continually develop. In fact, this is incurably human. That's why - not just in our schools and universities - but in our private pursuits and in our workplaces there is a great need to focus on a personal journey of lifelong learning, exploring and idea-building. Because only continuous learning and challenging the status quo can bring us the deep understanding with which we can imagine the potential of all that we might achieve. And initiatives like TEDx that focus on spreading ideas that matter - generated by the community for the community - present a compelling way to address this challenge.

When this focus grows in strength, talent at the core of our workforce will not only bring a variety of knowledge and skills, but more importantly, fresh ideas and creativity waiting to find expression. Given the right conditions and nurturing there is every possibility that from this set will blossom purposeful entrepreneurs - finding and solving the biggest problems plaguing their country. And this is more possible now, than it has ever been in the history of humankind. Because we live in these times of being digital.

Today technology has come so far in capability that the line between imagination and reality has started to fade. Digital technology has started to give life-like qualities through sensory capability and intelligence to inanimate things. Cars that drive themselves, offices and homes that 'know' us and our preferences, and mobile phones that are practically our digital twins, are just the beginning. As more and more devices acquire such capabilities and connect to each other, they will breathe digital life into our world of atoms. This will be a new paradigm where technology will allow us to go beyond merely improving the known and to effect incredible transformations that make the impossible possible. In fact, several creators at TEDx Bangalore promise you a glimpse into this exciting new world. Whether it is Saurabh Arora talking about his early work using Artificial Intelligence, Tirthankar Dash's introduction to his exploration of Design Thinking or Syed Sultan Ahmed's story of founding EduMedia, their tales of innovation and invention will leave you enthralled. Be there at TedX Bangalore hosted at the Infosys campus on Sunday, 29th May, or simply log on to the Infosys Facebook page to join the live webcast.

Because in the new paradigm, all that will matter, all that will set us apart from automations and digitally-enhanced things will be our ideas, our imagination and our ability to create. India must swiftly prepare her youngsters to enter this entirely new world awaiting us. We, at Infosys, want for all of us to not only be ready for it, but also do what we can to accelerate its arrival. Amplifying programs like TEDx is only the beginning.




Welcome To The Virtual Hospital

Posted by Sanjay Dalwani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:52 AM

Virtual technology could improve brain surgery [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3mx7Rd-Yb4]

This month the Oculus Rift headset went on sale at 48 Best Buy stores across America. The price - approximately US$ 600 - suggest that virtual reality headsets have a market that is well beyond teenagers using the technology for video games. Healthcare delivery, too, is at the cusp of being transformed by this technology. I believe that amazing synergies await doctors and their patients when making important diagnoses remotely with the help of virtual reality.

Dr. Abraham Nussbaum, the Chief Education Officer at Denver Health, in his new book The Finest Traditions of My Calling, is critical of the modern-day practices of his colleagues. "The patient," writes Dr. Nussbaum, "becomes a case report, a billing code, a quality metric", and doctors spend "checkup(s) gazing into a computer screen". Is there any wonder, then, that doctors, who feel burned out by seeing patient after patient in their examination rooms, will welcome the new paradigm that virtual reality will create when it comes to healthcare?

Analysts from the technology research firm Gartner have said that manufacturers of such headsets could sell as many as 40 million of them by 2020. That estimate takes into account all sectors where virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets can make a splash, including healthcare, travel, and, of course, video games.

The maxim that for there to be a demand for VR or AR headsets there first must be compelling content is true. Beyond the gaming and entertainment industries, it's the world of healthcare that is standing at the ready with an endless supply of content in the form of patient data. A fascinating article in Time magazine on the first anniversary of the Apple Watch reveals how the real motivation of the company's development of a smart watch was the experience that Apple founder Steve Jobs had with doctors and the entire healthcare system during his battle with pancreatic cancer. Jobs was convinced there had to be a better way to connect reams of patient data with the doctor so that the ongoing interaction between healthcare providers and patients could improve.

Think about it: Most people wearing smart watches use them primarily for fitness and wellness purposes. The watches themselves tend to be too small to replace the now-entrenched smart phone and tablet. But throw in VR or AR headsets into the equation and everything changes. True, your doctor can still monitor your vital signs remotely from your smart watch. But a robust, meaningful, lifelike interaction with a healthcare provider becomes possible with a headset. And there's no reason it can't be used in tandem with a smart watch.

From purely a business standpoint, it stands to reason that the industry that has the ability to make large-scale investments in this evolving sector are healthcare entities. Buying hundreds of virtual or augmented reality headsets for a large hospital system lowers the total cost of ownership - especially if patients are covered by their insurance companies. Being able to make a virtual house call removes significant costs from what a healthcare system can offer consumers. Headsets can help empty out waiting rooms and doctors can be 'on call' without being on the premises.

I'm envisioning a future where the entire notion of what constitutes a hospital or clinic is going to change radically in the next few years. The doctor's office will be wherever your headset is. Imagine turning on your headset and hearing: "Your doctor will see you now."

May 20, 2016

How Far Can A Government Go To Find Out Information About You?

Posted by Dr. Ashutosh Saxena (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:37 AM

AP Analysis: FBI Drops iPhone Case Against Apple [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtTlJi0PdLA]

The world seemed to come to a standstill when the United States government ordered Apple to unlock an iPhone that had been used by a suspected terrorist - only to have the company refuse. That the average teenage hacker could have possibly unlocked the iPhone was not the point; it was a matter of principle.

Apple claimed that if a government could order it to unlock one phone, then it could conceivably order it to unlock any phone. It would put the company in a difficult position with its loyal customers, who become loyal in part because they assume the company protects the data it receives from them.

We live in an age when information technology has made it incredibly easy for a company to obtain data about you so that it can improve the customer experience. I found it interesting that Ford no longer refers to itself as an automotive company; it calls itself a mobility company driven by software. Retailers are perhaps the best at using software solutions to practically read the minds of its shoppers so that they stock/create items they know will be bought at a certain rate.

What the Apple event did was to shed light on consumer privacy amidst a rapidly changing world. Now there's another company stepping forward, and this time it's not about a single phone but rather about consumer privacy itself. Microsoft recently filed a lawsuit against America's Department of Justice. In the suit, Microsoft says that the so-called gag order statute in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is unconstitutional. Microsoft's suit goes on to say that the gag order statute violates the Fourth Amendment right of its customers to know if the government searches or seizes their property. Plus, according to the suit, the statute violates the company's First Amendment right to speak to its customers. What Microsoft is doing is using the lawsuit to prompt a public debate about privacy in the digital age. It will be interesting to see what major corporations and organizations come to Microsoft's defense.

Consumers know that one of the reasons a shopping experience can be so seamless and pleasant is because a company knows how to utilize its data about them in such a way that their expectations will be met and even surpassed every time they walk into a store or peruse a retailer's website. Consumers are also fairly aware of the fact that companies share data with other companies - or sell it to each other. If a company that makes cars knows that you drive to certain places, like whitewater rafting locations, and another company that makes sporting equipment knows you have bought a kayak or two, there's a good chance that you enjoy the outdoors. Other companies specializing in sports and outdoor pursuits, from hoteliers to restaurants to apparel makers, will want to be part of your consumer ecosystem. The larger that technological ecosystem becomes, the more the consumer experience is enhanced.

So if a government decides it wants to get a look into that ecosystem, does a consumer have a right to know about it? And do the entities that supply the technology that fuels that consumer ecosystem have to cough up the information that a government agency demands? These are very interesting questions. They are also being debated because technology has gotten really good in the past few years. Let's face it: It wasn't until fairly recently that a company had the wide range of customer experience solutions available to it. And that those solutions were incredibly sophisticated.

I am thrilled that my doctor can get a real-time update on by blood sugar levels if I'm a diabetic. Or that my favorite store sends me an email telling me that it's having a sale on items that are of interest to me. Steve Case, the founder of AOL and one of the fathers of the Internet, says that we're in store for a 'third wave' in which the Internet will be as ubiquitous as, say, electricity. You don't really think of the electric grid when you plug in a kitchen appliance. In the near future, you won't be thinking of logging onto the Internet or surfing the web because it will be everywhere.

Indeed, the Internet of Things is really going to be the Internet of Everything. And that's why it will be fascinating to see the public discourse that forms around Microsoft's new lawsuit. If the Internet is everywhere and everything, how far can a government go to find out information about you?

May 16, 2016

The Birth Of An Idea And The Truly Digital Enterprise

Posted by Ravi Kumar S. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 12:15 PM

The Birth Of An Idea And The Truly Digital Enterprise

Dr. Vishal Sikka frequently reminds us that the biggest opportunity that lies before every business today is to launch a human revolution, where we are all able to achieve much higher productivity, to bring much more innovation, and create a future limited only by our aspirations. And that can be made possible by technology - especially automation and AI.

So, one might surmise that a business that is digitized is best equipped to realize this opportunity.

But few enterprises understand that digitizing their business is not so much about creating an online frontend to engage with customers or employees, as it is about creating a future where they can leverage machine-generated insights to process everything straight through in an agile, automated, seamlessly connected landscape designed to amplify human potential. Real digitization of an enterprise means that its core processes are always improving and that this learning and evolution is automated. Simple as that. And no ERP system that runs the best run businesses of yesterday can do this. Rule-based, policy-driven, deterministic and in many ways reinforcing rigid standardization - that is in itself so 'undigital' - these create an innate lethargy and inertia slowing down change that is so vital for processes and systems to improve and remain relevant. We figured that such transformation is best operationalized through a utility-based, low capital and pay-as-you-go vertical stack with technology, infrastructure and business process all bundled with vertical SLAs, vertically deployed automation, right across the stack, and accountable to drive direct people benefits and real business outcomes. Essentially, this meant that the real challenge for us was to find a way to offer businesses 'Process-as-a-Service' for their software-driven systems that are continuously learning, growing in intelligence and purposefully automating all that's best left to machines. So, people can do more of the things that only people can - with their imagination, creativity, innovations and sense of purpose.

It was finding this problem that helped us locate our first knowledge-based AI platform.

We started reflecting on the usefulness of the sources of truth that legacy landscapes offered, and it didn't take long to figure out that it wasn't much. I mean, how can terabytes of error logs alone ever be useful in figuring out how to digitize the enterprise? So, we began looking for a way to curate data from all the sources available to us - the code, key strokes of the user, documentation, process maps, tickets, error logs...everything - and then applied our early work in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to create a knowledge base. This knowledge-based engineering platform instantly and continuously captured the millions of events recorded in the IT landscape, drawing patterns, relationships and powerful contextual pictures. It is ably supported by the Infosys Information Platform that processes massive amounts of unstructured and structured data easily streaming it all into the knowledge-base in real time. Together, they create a powerful, searchable ontology of the IT or engineering environment, predicting events; helping diagnose issues and creating an understanding of contextual relationships - just the sort of knowledge that is considered implicit, and accessible only to the seasoned technician operating that environment. Once this knowledge about the things that worked and the things that didn't, the problems and solutions, the predictions and the means of prevention, was made digital and machine-readable it was easy to leverage the Infosys Automation Platform to bring in automation everywhere. Not driven by rigid rules and inflexible policies, but purposefully steered by a confluence of streaming intelligence, deep knowledge about the underpinnings of the enterprise and insights into the best ways to create a new future for the business.

And not surprisingly, it was this very same coming together of automation, innovation and knowledge at our own organization that has amplified our potential to do more for the businesses that count on us to help them. We are freeing our people from the shackles of routine and repeatable tasks, by bringing in automation to every one of our services and also our own processes and systems, so our engineers might be allowed to reimagine and reshape the landscapes our clients find themselves in. We employ a simple framework - Zero Distance - to first find the unarticulated problems that these businesses face and then work at the intersection of desirability, feasibility and viability to solve it. We share the knowledge - both within and outside of our organization - through active collaboration so we might all then thrive in a culture of lifelong learning.

Surely, none of us should have to deal with the same mess for less. We should be able to achieve that which our imagination helps us see, that which our knowledge shows us can be and that which our conviction impels us onto. And, there is no better time to do it than right now. Because, as NelsonHall's Rachael Stormonth says, Infosys is in a hurry: there will be more.

May 9, 2016

The Power of Visualizing Big Data

Posted by Sundaram Ganapathy (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:41 AM

Take a look at deforestation in Sumatra over the course of the past 12 years with Explorable Visual Analytics (EVA)

An interesting argument is being played out in the United Kingdom, where the Conservative government is reviewing a program known as Innovate UK. The majority party, which came to power promising British voters more fiscal restraints on big government spending, is reviewing a lot more than just funding to corporate innovation programs. Taxpayers, however, can be persuasive, and the question now facing the British people is whether the government should continue helping to fund promising technology startups or instead give loans to the companies in question.

That debate has sparked the greater question as to whether innovation can be created by providing the right people with the right tools and the right space and then 'bottling it up,' so to speak. The Financial Times recently pointed out that the British aerospace giant Rolls-Royce spent some £650 million on research & development last year. It also received £35 million through the Innovate UK program. Would that extra £35 million have been missed by a technologically-savvy company like Rolls-Royce? I tend to think every last penny that goes towards innovation is important, so my answer would be yes in the grand scheme of things.

No matter what the political outcome (the British government giving either grants or giving loans to startups), it's important to have centers of innovation that don't necessarily fall within the four rigid walls of a company. Outside perspectives can work wonders. For instance, I have been following the accomplishments of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie-Mellon University in the United States. Another path to innovation is to watch doctoral and post-doctoral academics from afar and then to invest in their companies when the time is right - not unlike what a venture capital firm does. Sometimes it's difficult to wrap your head around the cutting-edge technology coming out of such startups, especially if you're an financier who wants to know how the market can utilize its products.

That's what makes Explorable Visual Analytics so interesting The talented scientists behind EVA describe it as an online platform for visualizing and analyzing 'high-dimensional' data. EVA is a platform that takes the highly touted topic of Big Data and allows users like you and me to navigate the data sets intuitively. According to Saman Amraii, one of the scientists at CREATE Lab who has worked on EVA since day one, you can build a simple geographical representation of a data set or a complex, abstract five-dimensional projection of that data.

Simply put, Big Data on its own is far too vast and complex for the human brain to process and understand. Actually, the number at which the brain stops processing data could, depending on the situation and environment, be around 1 million data points. Above that number, we start to see lots of 1s and 0s but very little actionable, usable information. University researchers Saman Amraii and Amir Yahyavi, along with their colleagues, began asking themselves how to present Big Data in combinations of dimensions that would be relevant, actionable, and (above all) easily grasped by those who set the parameters. Don't be intimated with talk of different dimensions. Explorable Visual Analytics often processes and combines five of them to achieve varying views of data sets.

High dimensionality is what is making Big Data palatable and more useful than ever. Someone parsing data sets wants to see correlations in that data. Suppose you start out with investigating income inequality in the greater Seattle area. But you want to see how gender affects that inequality. And what about the effects of living in different neighborhoods across Seattle? And how about going back, say, five years? What I've just described would be pretty difficult to present clearly and simply in a bar or pie chart. The data scientist wants the ability to work not only in 3D, but also in color and across time.

One of the most profound examples of EVA's work is the effect that deforestation is having in Sumatra. We all know the world's tropical rainforests are in danger of being eradicated. But the issue truly hits home when you watch an EVA demonstration of the tool that analyzes the effects of deforestation in Sumatra over the last 12 years. Better still, a scientist can bookmark any view they like inside the EVA platform on the website and then send a link that contains those bookmarks. Then EVA will open all those bookmarked views and they can go through them. Scientists can share the information via an email with hundreds of other academics and policy-makers around the world. EVA used Big Data from Global Forest Watch. They have also been working with data-rich groups like the United States Census, the World Resources Institute, and the department of transportation.

EVA's Amir Yahyavi makes a compelling point about how important it is to visualize Big Data. Humans who are the end consumers, he says, need answers to their questions fairly rapidly so that they can then formulate their next string of questions, and so on. If you have to wait an hour between asking each question as you rifle through Big Data sets to get your answer, the discovery process becomes laborious and the spark of innovation diminishes. Thanks to teams like the one behind EVA, innovation is not diminishing in the least; it's on the rise. Everywhere. From corporate R&D programs to tiny garages and everywhere in between, the most effective entrepreneurs are the ones who take technological breakthroughs and make them useful to the masses.

May 4, 2016

At The Confluence Of Possibilities, Leading Technologies, Beautiful Minds

Posted by Ravi Kumar S. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:28 AM

It was about zeroing the distance between what clients desire and the experience that our technology is poised to deliver. Between the promise of our expertise and expectations of clients. Between imagination, possibilities and ways and means to materialize them. Between us, across different walks of life, and the new digital reality.

Zero Distance was this year's theme of the annual Infosys thought leadership summit for clients, Infosys Confluence. With more than 1,500 Infosys clients, partners and employees in attendance, it was an exuberant take on our inevitable digital future. With all the technological eruption around us, said one speaker at the event, the co-founder and chief creative officer of Applied Minds LLC, Bran Ferren, it might be difficult to wrap your head around the fact we're all still at the very beginning of an exciting technological journey. Bring it on then!

Let your guard down

As you might expect, at the confluence of some of the world's top minds, there were many enriching viewpoints and perspectives. However, the underlying theme of all the speakers' views was to let your guard down and be more receptive to the many different kinds of technologies coming our way. Take Hugh Herr, Ph.D., who leads the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab and is creating bionic limbs that mimic natural limbs. When Professor Herr was in high school, a mountaineering accident caused his lower legs to be frostbitten, leading to amputation below the knees. From that moment on, Prof. Herr turned a tragedy into an opportunity. He developed a technology that combines human physiology with electromechanics.

Prof. Herr's philosophy was that from the knees down, he was a blank slate, and technology could help him extend human capabilities. What fortitude! That's why at MIT, his team is working on no less than four areas in the field of bionics: brain, body, biometrics body parts, and regenerative body parts. Prof. Herr said that 50 years from now, we will be able to eliminate disabilities, and even go one step further. People, for whatever reason, will be able to sculpt their own bodies. Maybe they'll do so in order to augment their capacity to learn. Whatever the case, they'll be carving out entirely new identities for themselves.

And it's not just through bionics that humans will be carving out new identities for themselves. Confluence attendees were treated to a panel discussion on the future of education in which the president and co-founder of Coursera, Daphne Koller, said that with society evolving evermore rapidly, the entire idea of education must be re-thought. No longer will a young person go to college, graduate, and then be educated for life. Far from it. Education will be a lifelong undertaking. In the near future, we'll look at education as another path to consumer content that's presented in modules that make it intuitive and fun to continue learning. Part of that new paradigm will include a type of educational crowd-sourcing that's much different than today's professor-to-student transfer of information.

Artists as early warning systems of the future

True, there was plenty of talk about the importance of a robust computer science curriculum being a part of every school in the near future. But another member of the MIT Media Lab, Hiroshi Ishii, amazed the crowd with his emphasis on the arts and design in the highly digital world that we are coming to know. Artists, he said, are the "early warning systems" of the future because they have the courage to see what is and to dream what should be. Likewise, said Prof. Ishii, a designer is a person who deeply feels for what people need and even more deeply about what is to be brought into existence. He urged the attendees to consider the notion that technology on its own is only a tool to reach a greater vision of how the world will be.

Another panelist, Bran Ferren, who was once the president of R&D at Walt Disney Imagineering, also spoke optimistically about a future in which science and art will depend on each other. The notion that great ideas are rare is fiction, Ferren said. It's the execution of the great idea that is tough.

Opening the door to A.I.

The highlights of the event were speeches by luminaries such as the former American vice president, Al Gore, who discussed a favorite topic: the need to be vigilant about combating the causes of climate change. The keynote address by Dr. Vishal Sikka, was another highlight. Those of you who are familiar with his management style know all about his Renew-New vision as well as his Zero Distance mandate that uses digital technology to form a seamless, digital path from factory floor to end-consumer. Dr. Sikka also spent some time announcing the new Infosys AI Knowledge Platform, that brings together machine learning with the deep knowledge of an organization to drive automation and innovation. According to Dr. Sikka, Infosys AI Knowledge Platform is about amplifying people.

Dr. Sikka's presentation on Infosys AI Knowledge Platform couldn't demonstrate any better just how Infosys is leveraging open source data analytics and re-thinking the global enterprise. And his speech was in keeping with the unbridled optimism of the other experts at Confluence. This platform, for instance, leverages A.I. with its Infosys Information Platform to uncover opportunities in a company that can give it a roadmap for rapid innovation and growth. Then its Infosys Automatic Platform is where the rubber hits the road - it continuously learns in order to build a knowledge base that grows and adapts to changes in the company's underlying systems. In the third leg of Infosys AI Knowledge Platform all that data is finally  transformed unto useful knowledge that the company can use to disrupt its market.

The panelist Bran Ferren best captured the mood of the event when he said to a rousing applause that you should interpret inventions not by the technology being used but the impact on people's lives. The digital world, as expressed by Confluence 2016, is full of energy, ideas, and great possibilities.

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