Indian MSMEs in the age of AI
The Indian government’s decision to implement Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in identifying and solving challenges faced by MSMEs in India will go a long way in building the sector’s resilience as well as contribution to the Indian economy.
The age of AI is here. Every revolution needs a catalyst, and the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world has certainly been the lynchpin that has truly unleashed the AI revolution across the world. While AI had made its presence many decades ago, the Covid-19 crisis fanned the flames of its applications cross sectors as social distancing measures forced countries, businesses and individuals to go fully digital. And as the need for faster digital transactions in lesser time mounts, so does the need for varied and widespread applications of AI based technology. So much so that, AI is estimated to contribute around $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
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Earlier this month American chipmaker Nvidia announced that it was being commissioned by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to develop the India’s fastest AI supercomputer, called PARAM Siddhi, a first of its kind large scale high performance computing-AI infrastructure for the country.
Speaking to Live Mint, Hemant Darbari, Director General, C-DAC said, “The computer will provide a platform for academia, scientific community, researchers, industry, start-ups and MSMEs, and innovation in science and engineering.”
MSME Ministry strengthens its tech based Single Window System ‘Champions’ with AI & ML. In this phase, real time insight and analysis of MSME issues from social media will be possible. @PIB_India #msmetochampions https://t.co/IPiOMQYsbq pic.twitter.com/h2gqRAKk8x
— Ministry of MSME (@minmsme) October 14, 2020
India with its geographically diverse landscape, vast pool of AI-trained workforce and an emerging start-up ecosystem has a unique opportunity to be a major contributor to AI-driven solutions that can revolutionise a variety of sectors from healthcare and manufacturing to defence. A sentiment that is reflected in its “AI for All” strategy. The recent RAISE 2020 summit (Responsible AI for Social Empowerment) is also another Indication that India is serious about AI and its policy around it.
More recently, the Ministry of Micro Small Medium Enterprises has onboarded the latest IT tools of AI and Machine Learning (ML) on its robust Single Window System ‘Champions.’ The latter being a multi-modal system that has a portal at the virtual level and technology-equipped physical control rooms at around 69 locations of the country.
‘Champions’ was launched in June this year by Prime Minister Modi.
How will AI help?
According to the ministry, AI can drastically help with grievance redressal, which until now was dependent on complaints and data coming through the Champions portal. However, AI can now help to know the emotions of people involved with or dependent on MSME sector in real time.
The official statement released states that AI is also giving the MSME Ministry social media insights relating to MSMEs for its policy action through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, forums and online news. AI can slice and dice data in many ways which are not available in traditional tools of Information Management Systems (MIS), thus allowing staff to easily discover actionable points.
The Ministry is working push Indian MSME’s to adopt emerging technologies by encouraging and helping them to manufacture essential and enabling products like sensors, motors, computer displays and other animation technologies.
AI will also be indispensable when it comes to time consuming and repetitive administrative tasks leaving businesses management teams to focus on more crucial functions such as planning and strategising.
Scope and Impact
MSME’s contribute nearly 40 per cent to India’s GDP, making the sector both important and instrumental to the country’s economic recovery. With the coronavirus crisis still rampaging through the world and India, it is crucial to get this sector digitalised fast in order to buffer it from the impact of the pandemic. Currently, there are approximately 56 million MSME entrepreneurs active in India, which lends urgency to the India government’s efforts to offer digital assistance to these entrepreneurs in order to help them identify and capitalise on market opportunities both on their home turf and globally. In this mission, AI will play a pivotal role as will the participation of Indian and international tech companies such as Intel in providing tech expertise and advice.