After launching its data analytics-driven brand Billion, Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart will create an artificial intelligence unit called AIforIndia to strengthen its business offerings, according to a media report.
"We are betting big on the use of AI and machine learning to solve problems at Flipkart. India’s problems are unique and we need to apply AI in the ecosystem to solve them. Some of the focus areas for AI in developed countries cannot be applied in India. At Flipkart, we will solve problems differently because the underlying problems (in India) are different,” chairman and co-founder Sachin Bansal told Mint.
An email query sent to the company did not elicit a response till the time of publishing this report.
The company is looking to invest millions of dollars into the venture over the next few years and has initiated a hiring process to look for AI engineers who can take care of building infrastructure and lead hardware partnerships, Bansal told the business newspaper. Flipkart is also trying to work with top Indian education institutions such as IIT for the project, he said.
AIforIndia will be headed by chief data scientist Mayur Datar alongside Bansal and Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy.
The company is expected to reap benefits of the new technologies to solve issues both on the consumer and supply sides. “Almost everything about e-commerce is different—whether you talk about how consumers interact with Flipkart on the app on their devices, to how deliveries happen to customers, to how they get active customer support, to how we are doing our inventory management, to how we do our supply planning. We believe we can apply AI and machine learning to solve these problems,” Bansal said.
The firm is also looking to make acquisitions in the AI space in India and the US, he said.
In June this year, Flipkart acquired Silicon Valley-based F7 Labs which is believed to be working on an AI project named Mira. Previously, Flipkart also tied up with Microsoft to leverage its AI and machine learning abilities to run sales. Besides, the company's fashion arm Myntra is making use of these new technologies to sell products more efficiently. In October 2015, Myntra introduced Artie -- a smart bot -- which can collect insights about customers to help create a fashion range under the ‘ModaRapido’ brand.