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Thursday, October 23, 2008

IBM’s discovery of India

For 15 years in a row, IBM has registered the highest number of patents globally. Its IBM Research Laboratory (IBMRL) is known for devising carbon nano tubes, computer languages such as Fortran. It has even seen its researchers bag a Nobel Prize for Physics in the area of high temperature superconductivity. Now, it is building on this heritage in IndiaIBM Research Labs first started off in Delhi in 1998 and opened a second outfit in Bangalore in 2005 to keep pace with growth. This unit now takes up conceptual research in areas such as telecommunications and global delivery of IT services from these two centres. “Our research is helping the services business create new offerings, optimise service delivery through better automation and knowledge management, as well as improve governance through analytics,” says Guruduth Banavar, Director of IBM Research Labs. According to him, this unit works on specific requirements from his services division and the products developed are often used in IBM’s next-generation solutions.

One of the most critical breakthroughs in the lab’s decade-long history in India is its work on Spoken Web. IBM’s Mobile Web initiative will be based out of India and will lean on experts in eight labs (in six countries) for help. “The Spoken Web project aims to transform how people interact with e-commerce sites by using speech, rather than the written word,” says Banavar, a PhD in Computer Science. The Spoken Web is the World Wide Web in a telecom network, where people can create and browse “VoiceSites” and traverse “Voice Links.” If IBM’s new plan works out, Banavar believes anyone will be able to create a new site on the Spoken Web, leading to the creation of allnew content.

Away from this futuristic research, IBM India, which employs around 73,000 people across its businesses in the country, is banking on another unit, IBM Software Labs, to devise on-ground applications and solutions for customers. “Besides buying our products and solutions, our customers want to use their technology infrastructure to improve business processes,” says Shanker Annaswamy, MD, IBM India.


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