The term ‘Centre of Excellence’ has become very popular in the last few years among organisations of all stripes. CoEs are now being set up to attract talent and develop proof of concepts (PoC) around emerging technologies. The main goal of a CoE is to help an organisation improve its expertise in a particular area and make the most of its resources. Recently, we have seen the development of several incubators and accelerators by major financial companies and tech giants that are tapping into the thriving Indian ecosystem to develop expertise in emerging technologies. India is already proving to be the hub for CoE, especially in areas like analytics and business intelligence. These centres are emerging not only in the technology and BFSI sectors but also in a number of sectors including healthcare and retails, among others.
Here’s how CoEs help scale innovation:
There are a few key areas that CoE or innovation hub helps in accomplishing:
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1) Acts a global delivery center: It is a base for experimenting with use cases and allows enterprises to research, test and delive
2) Launch applications: With the tech world moving towards AI and ML, CoEs allow enterprises to take the first step towards integrating these technologies. The teams are tasked with building applications that can be used in businesses or end users.
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3) Drive Data Culture: Today, driving a data-driven culture has become exceedingly important and a pre-requisite for deploying in AI at scale across enterprises. leadership teams are investing in building an infrastructure where data is not siloed.
4) Driving self-sufficiency: At the heart of innovation hub is building key AI applications that can drive business objectives, build strong capabilities in in other emerging technologies and deploy these applications.
We take a look at the recent upsurge in AI-centric CoEs that have sprung up across the sectors over the last few years. These CoEs are powering technological innovation and growth in global businesses.
Banking and Financial Sectors: In a report from last year, Bank of Baroda, India’s second largest public sector bank collaborated with tech giants to power twin their IT Centre of Excellence (ITCoE) and Analytics Centre of Excellence (ACoE) which aimed at enhancing the quality of business growth, portfolio diversification and fee income using digitisation. In 2013, MasterCard inaugurated its advanced analytics Centre of Excellence in India. The global leader in big data technology and analytics decided to tap into the rich analytics talent and apply solutions at scale.
DBS, a leading financial services group from set up DBS Asia Hub 2, the largest technology hub outside their main market Singapore in Hyderabad. “Since its inception, the focus has been on digital transformation and building the future of banking. We have been able to hire the best tech talent across the country. Today, we have around 1500 engineers focusing on data, cloud, AI, automation and more, who are enabling our customers to live more (and bank less),” Mohit Kapoor, Head, DAH2 told AIM.
Institutional Sectors: In a recent report, the state government of Bhubaneswar has started setting up nine CoE in five state universities. The centres of the universities will focus on research on various topics such as social sciences, human resource development, biosciences, energy and environment, physical sciences, etc. with the aim of high-quality publications in journals or filling of patents of inventions.
The research focus of CoE at JNU, New Delhi is the application of computational biology in pathogenic diseases like Mycobacterium, Leishmani, etc. The CoE at IISc, Bangalore research in several areas such as systems biology, structural biology and bioinformatics, molecular design, molecular modelling, structural pharmacology, and computational immunology. The CoE at Pune University focuses on genomics, proteomics and phylogenetic analysis of infectious viruses such as mumps, rhinovirus, etc.
Retail Sectors: In a report, Falabella, a Latin American departmental store chain has launched technology operations in Bengaluru to accelerate its e-commerce and digital drive. Brian Brenta, CEO of Adessa Falabella said, “We realised AI and analytics is at the heart of Falabella’s digital transformation story and Bengaluru made sense from a talent standpoint. We employ mostly software engineers here now, but over time we will start hiring analytics talent. We are moving away from a monolithic system to microservices. That’s a big change.” Target is running a successful CoE in Bangalore that is primarily focused on Analytics, and the tech lab helps in enhancing the operational and sales efficiency across the organization. Moreover, it also helps in driving customer engagement and higher sales for the entire organization.
The FICCI Aditya Birla CSR CoE provides strategic direction to the development of inclusive and holistic CSR practices; create synergy by providing a platform to various stakeholders to share their experiences, learn, exchange ideas and support partnerships that add value to the business and recognise and reward business enterprises contributing towards sustainable and inclusive development. The scaling of CoE depends on building the analytical solutions, creating a full in-house analytical firm with multi-domains, multi-dimensional forecasting capability that predicts the industrial ability to manage demands as well as measuring media return on investment.
Healthcare: Recently, the CoE for Sickle Cell Anaemia, Thalassemia and Other Genetic Blood Disorders was inaugurated by the president of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind at the Prathima Institute of Medical Sciences in Karimnagar, Telangana.
NITI Aayog: NITI Ayog collaborated with NASSCOM to set up CoE with the help of the state government of Karnataka to improve industry-related research, proliferate data-driven decision making and provide better talent and skills in data science and AI to meet requirements in the industry.
The companies are focusing to win the rat race for excellence and thus leveraging CoEs as a robust tool to keep updated and stay ahead in the game. Going by the theory of change is the only constant, a setting up of CoE in an organisation will surely help in the journey of excellence. Outside the technology and fintech domain, major companies from the CPG, healthcare, pharmaceuticals domain who were left behind in the AI curve are now seeing the broader benefits of adopting emerging technologies and setting up innovation hubs.