IBM India Chief looking to gain foothold in cloud and cognitive

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Bajwa, who took over as head of the firm earlier this month, is basing his strategy for growth on three pillars ­ cloud, data and artificial intelligence

IBM’s new India head Karan Bajwa wants the company to show progress in key parts of its strategy including cloud and cognitive technologies by signing on new customers by the end of this year.

Bajwa, who took over as head of the United States-headquartered technology firm earlier this month, is basing his strategy for growth on three pillars ­ cloud, data and artificial intelligence.

“The big change is that we want all our conversations to be cloud-first –from delivery to `solutioning’ –and I have set goals in terms of the amount of revenue, customers and consumption of cloud”, he said.

Although he declined to specify the exact goals, he said the focus will be on attracting new customers.

“We want customers who are new to IBM’s services. This is not about landing big cloud deals. Cloud does not always work like that. We want to land small deals and then expand them. In all our existing deals, there is already some discussion on cloud”, Bajwa said. India is a growing market for public cloud services. Research firm Gartner said the market for services was worth about $1.3 billion at the end of 2016 and would reach over $4 billion by 2020.

IBM is battling Amazon, Microsoft and Google for the share of the market; though Bajwa said there is plenty of room for everyone to grow.

“It is too early to say that anyone has taken a lead or that anyone has fallen behind. There is so much white space and there is still a market to be made without talking about taking market share from your competitors”, Bajwa said. There is plenty of “low-hanging fruit“, he said. IBM is the clear leader in cognitive computing with its Watson platform, Bajwa said. The company has already announced a tie-up with Manipal Hospital to improve cancer care.

He said that there are other use cases in the pipeline including the automation of simpler kinds of customer support. “One of my goals is to get more use cases in different industries for Watson. We are talking to different players but by December 31, I want to be able to showcase this,“ he said.

Another key avenue for growth for IBM will be targeting companies that would previously have been considered too small to be considered. “We want to deeply penetrate the bottom of the pyramid. With clo ud and software-as-a service this is possible. We will focus on enabling independent software vendors and channel partners. IBM does not have to build everything,“ Bajwa said.

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