The South Asian Times

23 March 2019 04:25 AM

Amazon's Cloud arm helping Indian businesses drive innovation via AI, ML

By Gokul Bhagabati

Bengaluru, Dec 18: With a wide range of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools at its disposal, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Cloud arm of online retail giant Amazon, is busy helping its customers in India, bringing to their doorsteps innovative solutions that address the challenges they face.

Amazon Internet Services Private Limited (AISPL), the Indian subsidiary of the Amazon Group that undertakes the resale and marketing of AWS Cloud services in India, brought to the country earlier this year a digital innovation programme headed by Madhusudan Shekar.

"In a heterogeneous country like India, the scope of innovation is tremendous," Shekar, Head of Digital Innovation at AISPL, told IANS here, pointing out the diversity of needs in a country of over 1.2 billion people.

According to him, while start-ups are by nature quite innovative in their approach, the risk of inertia to innovation seeping in is higher in large enterprises.

"But large enterprises are always looking for innovations in areas such as optimising operational costs. We can help them find innovation solutions in these areas too," Shekar noted in an interview on the sidelines of the Amazon AI Conclave held here last week.

"With the availability of a wide range of AI, ML, analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) tools and pre-trained models with AWS, the cost and time required for innovation come down drastically," he explained, adding that businesses just need to fine-tune these models according to their needs, thereby saving time spent on building them from scratch.

Among the start-ups that showcased their innovative solutions at the event was ChironX, a Gurugram-based company which is using AI and Deep Learning for medical diagnostics.

The AI model that the company has built analyses retinal fundus images in seconds to detect several diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema.

"Our solution is now used by several hospitals in India," said Rito Maitra, Vice President for Product at ChironX, adding that its data infrastructure needs are supported by AWS.

AWS, which is betting big on AI and ML for its growth, has over hundreds and thousands of active customers in the country.

"Every customer conversation that we have today has an element of AI and ML in it -- whether they are enterprises, start-ups or other organisations," Navdeep Manaktala, Head of Business Development, AISPL, told IANS, adding that over 85 per cent of what AWS does is driven by customer needs.

AWS has a broad portfolio of AI and ML services in areas such as text-to speech conversion, image analysis and document analysis, among others.

Shaadi.com, one of the world's largest online matrimonial services, and Woo, a dating app, are among the company's two biggest customers from India that use Amazon "Rekognition" -- a Deep Learning-based image-analysis service.

The matrimonial website believes that with the use of "Rekognition", it could reduce the time it takes for a picture to appear on a user's profile by 95 per cent as a lot of time spent on manual moderation of the picture to see whether it matches the description in the profile can be cut.

"Amazon Rekognition APIs (application programming interface), particularly 'DetectFaces', provide rich image metadata that we can use to apply our business-specific quality guidelines to. Utilising information such as number of faces, size of faces, and estimated age range, we were able to remove photo-level manual curation work entirely," said Sumesh Menon, Co-Founder of Woo.

Manaktala said that ML is also helping AWS better understand the customer needs, helping them secure their data. "The pace of innovation, in spite of our size, is tremendous," Manaktala added.

With services such as Amazon "SageMaker", the company also allows developers and data scientists to build, train and deploy Machine Learning models.

It also has what is known as AWS Partner Network (APN), a global programme focused on helping APN Partners build successful businesses or solutions by providing business, technical, marketing and go-to-market support.

Overall, the company offers over 125 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, ML and AI, IoT, mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management. 

Update: 18 Dec, 2018

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