In a move to further digitise operations on the back of AI, machine learning, IoT based solutions as new growth drivers, Bharti Airtel has scaled up headcount across its digital verticals by 150%. The move that looks to focus more on digital segments is set to rejig the company’s organisational structure to ensure more focus on its digital operations with a view to monetizing them in the future.
This comes at a time when other telecom rivals including Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) and Vodafone Idea (Vi) are also focusing more on tech-based systems in the run-up to 5G technology launch sometime later this year.
The digitisation strategy across Airtel services not just reflects the new digital portfolio but also the new top management in the company. Some of the senior hires include Adarsh Nair, Chief Product Officer, who joined Airtel after having spent close to two decades in the US with tech companies; and Pradipt Kapoor, Chief Information Officer who joined from Merck UK.
According to Airtel, at present about 1600 people are working on these digital services and candidates for these profiles are recruited from Silicon Valley, engineering colleges, and even NASA. Teams of engineers and data scientists (including ex-NASA talent) at Airtel X Labs have built AI-enabled chatbots that will talk to customers in over 12 Indian languages and solve their service requests, the telco with about 340 million subscribers added.
“Airtel Xlabs is the largest technology startup in India. Our engineering teams have been building using a lot of open source stack, solving problems ranging from distributed computing, high-performance mobile apps, voice bot, understanding customer behavior, building recommendation systems,” Sunil Goyal, Head, Digital Customer Experience Engineering for Airtel said.
Airtel has also built in-house platforms like Wynk Music and Airtel Xstream or Airtel Thanks.
“We recently launched Airtel IQ – a first of its kind cloud communications suite for India and we have just gotten started,” said Sundi Raman, senior VP, and Head of Product at Airtel Business.