AI, Machine Learning, Data Analytics are future of tech biz: Virtusa CPO

Founder and chairman of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Bala V Balachandran and Chief People officer, Virtusa Corp, Sundararajan Narayanan, during the signing of MOU.

Chennai: In the world of tech biz, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) are buzzwords.

However, students coming out of colleges lack practical knowledge, as both AI and ML are confined to the industries and has not filtered down to University level.

So, for the first time in India, a business school, Great Lakes Institute of Management has signed a MoU with a global IT company, Virtusa Corporation who are experts a digital strategy and digital engineering, to offer a new major- AIMLA (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Analytics) in Great Lake’s management curriculum.

In a conversation with News Today, Virtusa Corporation’s CPO, Sundararajan Narayanan gives an insight into AIMLA in business and its need in the University curriculum.

Here are excerpts from the interview

Q. What is the reason behind integrating AIMLA into a business school?
A. AI and ML are being used everywhere and they will be integrated into all businesses in the future. But, as a company, whenever we go to recruit new graduates, we find that students lack an understanding of the practical aspects of this new technology. So, we decided to support colleges build an industry-oriented curriculum. We have partnered with tech schools before, but this is our first partnership with a business school.

Q. What will this partnership bring to the table?
A. As part of the partnership, Virtusa will nominate its subject matter experts to give out industry-oriented inputs. The coursework will provide students with an opportunity to work in real-time use cases of AI, ML and data analytics in live ongoing projects of Virtusa that will not impact the data privacy of the company. It will expose them to actual scenarios. The Virtusa team will mentor and review their work to ensure they are industry-ready by the time they pass out. We will deliver sessions at the institute, handpick students for internships, and make pre-placement offers.

Q. Is there a lack of willingness among educational institutions in adopting technology into their curriculum?
A. There is a willingness. But the right economic conditions are not there. This is why you now see a lot of interaction points opening up between corporations/industries and colleges in India now. This was not there 15 years back. Now colleges are approaching industries to prepare their syllabus. A change can be seen, but it is slow and will take some time as decision-making powers are in different places in India.

Q. What can be done to hasten change?
A. Slow adaptation of technology into education is not only in India, but also in the US. But in the Western countries, the professors take a sabbatical every 12 months or so, to go and work in an industry or a corporation. When they do, they get to know what they have to teach their students. This kind of flexibility must come here. The learning process of people in tech biz must also be continuous. Specialisation plays a key role. Earlier in the tech biz , after every five years of growth, there will come a big change. But now, growth and change happen together and the people in the industry, students and institutions should adapt to this.

Machines will hire humans in future
The day is not far off when machines will completely take over the hiring processes in big companies, says Sundararajan. In fact, the process has already started.

He said, “AIMLA will be an important aspect of the hiring processes as well. The machines will analyse all your publicly available data in the digital world. It will look at keywords in your job profile, your education, past experience, your social media searches. Based on machine learning, it will predict what is your expectation of the company and it will analyse if it matches with what the company expects from its employee”

“Even changes in marital status, or if you are going to have kids or change your location will be calculated by predictive algorithms. This will save the company time in filtering candidates. Earlier, when we go to hire for a position, we will get 22 profiles, interview 10 people, shortlist five out of them and give offers for three. Out of those three, we will negotiate with two and select one employee. Now the computer will shortlist three worthy candidates for us,” he explained

Will this remove the gut instinct of an employer?
Yes. But at the same time, it will bring in more transparency in the hiring process, says Sundararajan

Educationist’s view on AIMLA
Founder and chairman of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Bala V Balachandran said, ‘The real reason for this MoU is our belief that academic elegance should blend with business relevance. If you are not teaching something in tune with the current needs of business, then the teaching is useless. The world is moving from entrepreneurship to technopreneurship and it is time that education moves in the same direction.