By Nishant Arora

Gurugram–As the data localization debate heats up in India, IBM India Managing Director Karan Bajwa is clear on who must finally own the data: the consumers.

On a hot afternoon, as the mercury soared to over 42 degree Celsius amid widespread dust, Bajwa sat relaxed at his office in Gurugram, listening patiently and answering cohesively to a myriad of questions – with the debate over data residency being on top of his mind.

“Your data is your data, the customers’ data is the customers’ data and we have never been confused about this fact. The data is not the Cloud providers’ data,” Bajwa told IANS.

In the same breath, Bajwa added: “We understand (data) residency requirements but we also differentiate very clearly on data flow. We need to be careful about how we treat the conversation on data flow because you cannot impose artificial boundaries”.

IBM is clear on the data philosophy — how to treat, store, analyse and make sense of those humongous data-sets.

“More important is consumer insights. There are two ways you can apply AI on data. One is you can bring data to AI, which is how Cloud providers are offering: take the customers’ data, and build intelligence on it.

“In our case, we offer to bring AI to your data, right at your premises. The end result may not be different but the residual impact of how you treat this philosophy is very different. In this case, the consumers’ insights remain within your enterprise only,” Bajwa stressed.

According to him, only about 20 per cent of the world’s data is in the public domain while 80 per cent still rests within the enterprises.

“That is the real commercial value which will transform businesses. The current magic in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud is being created via only 20 per cent of the data. Imagine the potential with hundreds of millions of customer interactions that are sitting captive in my database,” Bajwa emphasised.

Apart from gaining data insights to deliver consumer experiences better, the key thing that will make the Indian companies different in months to come is how they innovate on scale.

“I’ve been pretty consistent with the idea that companies must innovate on scale and not on pilots. Because when disruption comes and hits you, it doesn’t hit at fringes but at your core.

“In the past, the disruption cycles changed in years but now, you may have a business today but may not have it six months later because somebody will come and fundamentally disrupt you,” suggested Bajwa.

Keeping this in mind, IBM has moved on the “Chapter Two” in its journey to digitally transform enterprises.

“Chapter One” of the Cloud represented about 20 per cent of the workload opportunity.

“Chapter Two” is about scaling AI and creating hybrid clouds, said Bajwa, as sectors after sectors – telecom, retail, banking, e-commerce, manufacturing are adopting new technologies in India.

“It’s about bringing the cloud operating model to all those mission-critical apps and enabling customers to manage data, workloads, and apps and move them between multiple clouds. This is a trillion-dollar opportunity and IBM intends to be the top player,” said Bajwa.

The Information Technology major last week announced a multi-million dollar deal with Vodafone Idea for engagement in the telecom, Cloud and AI segments.

“Well, it’s a continuity you know. They decided to renew the contract with IBM which is great for us. The relationship continues. It is a huge reaffirmation of their confidence of having worked with IBM,” replied Bajwa. (IANS)