Taking Cognitive Beyond the Hype

With traditional labor arbitrage-based revenue streams increasingly at risk, and with enterprises aggressively pursuing automation solutions, outsourcing service providers are scrambling to bring autonomics and cognitive technology solutions to market. Offerings such as Wipro’s Holmes, HCL’s DRYiCE, Syntel’s SyntBots and Infosys’ Mana are all designed to leverage cognitive, pattern recognition and machine learning capabilities to increase productivity, enhance accuracy and reduce costs.

As Alsbridge Managing Director Jeff Augustin discussed in a recent article in CIO magazine, the rush to market has created some confusion as buyers struggle to understand the capabilities of the respective tools, and as providers – facing immense pressure to win or retain business – have been inclined to overstate capabilities of largely unproven technologies

A recent analyst and advisor briefing in Boston hosted by HCL suggests that this dynamic may be shifting, as providers increasingly focus on messages that demonstrate practical results and the maturity of their applications. At the Boston briefing, Kalyan Kumar, Executive VP and CTO of IT Services at HCL, opened his discussion by emphasizing that DRYiCE is not designed to compete with IBM’s Watson or the AI or machine learning engines from companies such as Microsoft, Amazon or Google, but rather to leverage these capabilities as a service. “We don’t need to build a cognitive engine that understands the nuances of the English language,” Kalyan explained. “The focus of DRYiCE has always been to apply the world’s best AI, cognitive machine learning and related technologies to simplify IT operations and enable business agility. DRYiCE has been built as an AI Broker – enabling our customers to access cutting edge technology as in the XaaS mode.”

Citing examples of chat bot and self-service applications that are reducing operational costs by 15 percent to 40 percent and costs-per-conversation from $2.50 to $.13, Kalyan described a “decrease and conquer” strategy that leverages smart tools to reduce workloads and optimize processes – and does so without “reinventing the wheel” and without locking customers in to a particular technology solution.

The focus on niche capabilities rather than an “all things to all people” message was telling. This, along with the prominent emphasis on results, examples and customer cases, suggests that HCL might be charting a road less traveled through the rapidly evolving cognitive marketplace.