One on One with Digitate's Victor Thu

If your organization hasn’t already implemented some form of artificial intelligence, odds are that it’s right around the corner. IT is the core of many organizations’ ability to operate, and ensuring smooth operation of that function is critical. Artificial intelligence products are starting to carry a lot of that load. Digitate, a venture of Tata Consulting Services, helps clients implement Ignio, a proprietary product designed to solve IT operational challenges within the enterprise. Consulting sat down with Victor Thu, Global Head of Marketing and Product Marketing for Digitate to discuss the evolution of AI’s place in the enterprise and where he sees that trend line going in the future.

Consulting: What are some of the hottest areas in AI from a consulting perspective?

Thu: I think the hottest area right now from an IT operational standpoint is how we can automate and simplify a lot of complexity. Based on what we’re seeing today, if we look at AI overall in the marketplace, there’s a lot of excitement when it comes to the consumer space. You have a lot of talk about Alexa, Siri and so on. The excitement on how we can apply it to the IT operational world is not as loud, and we see that as an area we can truly contribute and we’ve been doing it quite successfully for a large number of customers we’re engaging with. So on the IT operations side, how we can help IT simplify their management structure, and simplify their operations using artificial intelligence. It’s not that we’re here to eliminate peoples’ roles, what we see when we’re talking to customers is they simply don’t have enough headcount. They have so many things they need to work on they just don’t have the resources or budget to scale that up. They really need a way to help them advance without incurring significant increase in budgetary spend.

Consulting: What are the biggest consulting opportunities you see around enterprise AI?

Thu: One is around employee onboarding. If we look at traditional employee onboarding it probably takes an organization a couple of weeks if not longer in order to onboard an employee successfully. What typically happens is once HR kicks off a process it will need different organizations, different business units, different teams to set up an account, provision users and so on. It typically takes a lot of time and is quite mundane work not a lot of people want to take on. Because our solutions can actually interact with all of the different technologies in the enterprise, we simply go in and say ok this person matches the group profile of the team they’re joining, so we’re going to provision this user based on their profile. We’re going to look at what team they’re working on, we know the location this person is going to be in, we set up all the facilities, the security and access requirements. That person essentially is onboarded in two hours versus the 1 to 2 weeks it traditionally takes.

Consulting: How is Digitate’s AI offering different than earlier iterations?

Thu: One of the first things we do with our AI is give it intelligent context on what’s going on with your organization, especially from an infrastructure/technology standpoint. Because of our heritage with TCS, we essentially inject over 30 years of IT knowledge directly into AI. This is very important because compared to traditional AI where you just let it go and learn and continue to teach it with information. We decided we needed to shorten that learning cycle by injecting that knowledge directly into it. That critical IT infrastructure knowledge helps with the learning phase. So because of all of that knowledge and information we’re able to do things a lot quicker.

Consulting: How specifically does the AI work within the enterprise once implemented?

Thu: One of the primary things we do with our AI is identifying problems before they occur, because we have all of this context on how different technologies are working. Before these technologies hit a problem, we can actually predict when it will hit and notify IT that we think they will have a problem with this component 2 weeks from now, 3 months from now—a timeframe that gives them the ability to take action. Even when problems were to occur we didn’t foresee, we can quickly identify the root cause of it. That’s because once the product is deployed we learn the behavior of all the different nodes and can quickly identify a problem instead of having IT spend a few hours or days trying to figure it out.

Consulting: What is the next frontier in AI for the enterprise?

Thu: As customers move to the cloud, looking at transforming their internal infrastructure, because today a lot of enterprises still have a lot of legacy types of applications, they’re looking for a way to migrate that into the more modern applications. Moving to the cloud is still quite a big challenge today, we think using AI will be a way to help with that. It will also be a way to help simplify IT cost, especially with more and more organizations not wanting to incur a significant cost in managing their own IT. There’s a report by an analyst firm basically saying today IT spends 70-80 percent of the budget just keeping the lights on. We want to help organizations move away from spending that 70-80 percent on running things into helping transform the business into intelligent digital enterprise.