Leading the IoT, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence initiative at VirtusaPolaris, Kartik Iyenger is responsible for conceptualizing, consulting, creating blueprint and most importantly execute strategic engagements in the IoT, Cognitive and Big Data space.
He has been responsible for floating up Project Skylab- an internal project to bring all customers and vendors in one common platform and framing up the architecture for IoT at VirtusaPolaris. His passion and drive for technology has resulted in him developing unique solutions for the customers.
Apart from being technologist, Kartik also closely works with top universities in US, Europe and India define Virtusa’s POV with Project Skylab for customers and is also an avid writer.
In a candid chat with IoT India Magazine, Kartik Iyenger, SVP – IoT, Cognitive, Robotics at VirtusaPolaris spoke about areas like IoT, BlockChain, Machine Learning, Cognitive Applications, Augmented reality, Virtual reality and more. Read the complete interview as below:
IoT India Magazine: Could you tell about VirtusaPolaris and the various IoT offerings by it?
Karthik Iyenger: Our journey started about three years ago with Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence/Cognitive Science and Blockchain practice. The industry was at a nascent stage and there was a lot of clutter in this space and we decided to go after what our customer and partners really wanted. We started grappling around a lot of questions whether we should build platforms or solutions, and we chose the latter. We look at IoT as the starting point towards everything – be it machine data analytics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality and most importantly blockchain. We have used IoT as the starting point for all of these and have top notch customers worldwide in these spheres.
We launched our internal project called Skylabs, which is powered by Bluemix, one of our strategic partners, to achieve these objectives. It kind of helped us in laying the reference architecture, created a blueprint for doing prototypes quickly, the best protocols, platforms, machine learning tool and the best ecosystem partners. We then selected the vendors with whom we started partnering. This gave us the foundation of how we would like to explore IoT as a space.
We were able to create a large ecosystem with key players at a hardware (and firmware) level. And most importantly were able to spot the usefulness of raspberry pi, Intel Galileo and Edison board. We started building up the ecosystem internally along with our partners and startup tech companies and started looking at the machine data analytics space. For the hardware product, we played around with the protocol (DDS Quick Shark) and stuck around with it as it was an open source and helped us in detecting what our customers really wanted.
In terms of IoT platform, we wanted to leverage existing platform players and formed alliances with players who have got a larger mission like IBM, AWS and Microsoft. IBM is much more mature in terms of its offerings and with Watson it has a definite edge in the cognitive space. Our company tied up with IoT- Center of Excellence an initiative of Digital India, through which our Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to build a robust startup ecosystem for the nation. It gives us access to high end lab facility to test out our prototypes and solutions.
VirtusaPolaris has tied up with many colleges and universities as academics partners like Clemson University, IIT Bombay. We engage with them at a very practical level with the aim to get more ideas and see how we can utilize the right kind of literature and knowledge.
IoT India Magazine: On a general note, how do you think have the industries in IoT space shaped up in the recent times in India? How do you see the growth?
KI: The true value of IoT can be seen in the coming days in India. It is by using the large amount of data that is going to be generated by vehicles, industrial machines and machines such as turbines, wind mills, spaceships, rockets etc. We would see more startups coming in the field of hardware robotics such as paraplegic & artificial limb and artificial intelligence. IoT is going to be a big wave. It would be about creating large data lakes and using these in different domains and industries.
Forget about wearable or IoT devices, we are now inching towards looking at human beings of the future where they might be having at least 13 or 14 devices on them. So, the data that human beings are going to generate would be huge and all of that infused into the skin. We would like to see that kind of innovation coming to India as this is where the world of IoT is going to be. The generated data from humans could be coupled with social data to explore the potential of cognitive sciences.
Other instance could be the use of patient data such as patient health information and looking at it as a marketplace for DNA or other samples that are going to be generated during clinical data. Analysis could be done based on this data to find out things like how effective can be an antibiotic on a person based on his/her DNA profile. It can tell if a medicine will be effective on a particular patient or not.
In a nutshell, there is going to be a culmination of IoT and other fields such as analytics and blockchain in near future.
IoT India Magazine: What are the major challenges that IoT industry faces currently?
KI: Firstly people are seeing this as a shortcut to make money. In the current scenario, any programming expert such as python experts or a big data expert can come up with a new algorithm and make some money, which is what majority of startups are doing nowadays.
Secondly, people are looking at very simple applications in this field such as home automation devices. The larger lookout is missing, which is another big challenge.
Thirdly, IoT is being looked upon as a dawn of the brainy world. Whereas the reality is that it has been around for a very long time. It’s just that it has grown wider and into different dimensions and has become commercially viable only recently.
Then there has been a rise in the amount of data generated from the machine and soon you are going to look at a world where robot is going to be much more efficient than humans and end up replacing many jobs. That could be a bigger challenge.
IoT India Magazine: What kind of knowledge and skill-sets do you look for, while recruiting your workforce?
KI: We are looking at people who have good amount of JAVA skills and great Python skills. Python is a language that is the most suited towards machine, so that becomes a mandatory skill in a candidate. They should have a good programming skill and a bent towards data. We are looking for people who can code in at least 2-3 languages, with a strong hold on C++, C and R and on hardware as well. We are basically looking at engineering with a good understanding of coding and business acumen. The more they know, the better it is.
IoT India Magazine: Are you planning to come up with a book on IoT, AI or Robotics?
KI: Though I have got an offer to write for an UK based publishing house, I would like to hold that thought and instead collaborate with universities to write literature and research paper. If I have to choose to write a book on IoT, it would be something which gives a clear roadmap of this industry starting from an application point to business and consulting part for it. Let’s see when that happens.
IoT India Magazine: Do you have any concluding remarks for IoT enthusiasts from India eyeing to make it big in the industry?
KI: I would like to ask the younger generation to focus on two things – firstly stop thinking about IoT as a world of making money, instead focus on the ecosystem. Secondly, get the fundamentals right. They can refer to multitude of sources available online such as Udacity and Coursera to focus on a particular product, application, language or a tool. It’s good to start with any of these based on the interest to get the basics and fundamentals right. Also they should focus on mathematics because the world is going to be all about algorithms in the coming years.