“We must invest in the next-gen of tech talent to help drive the next wave of AI innovation,” says Radha Basu, Founder and CEO, iMerit

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Ms. Radha Basu, Founder and CEO, iMerit


  1. The technology sector is an overly male-dominated industry. Being a woman entrepreneur in this industry, what challenges were thrown at you in the initial days of iMerit and how did you overcome them?

In many ways, my experience at iMerit in providing opportunities for women in tech was forged early in my personal professional journey. Many years ago, the gap was obvious to me as I was one of only 12 women studying engineering in a class of over 2000 graduates. We have come a long way since that time, but we have still not done enough. Throughout my career – both in my days as an executive at HP where I opened HP in India and built it to be a billion dollar business, and up to my time as a company founder and CEO – I have learned the importance of approaching challenges head on, of being inclusive, and of putting the right people in the job – regardless of their gender.

I have seen firsthand the impact that women can have on the tech industry. I’ve lived it. And my experience has been a driver behind ensuring we are opening doors and championing inclusiveness at iMerit. I’m proud to say that 52% of our company’s workforce are women. And they are excelling in leadership and in providing technical expertise. More companies should follow that model. The split between genders in society is roughly 50/50. Why shouldn’t tech be representative of that number?


2. iMerit being more inclined towards annotation for AI effectiveness, how does it separate you from competitors in India?

iMerit stands out because we provide a unique and powerful combination of talent, technology, and technique. These are the primary differentiators for how we help get results where others in our industry may struggle. First, we aim to stand out by delivering the right talent, with strong domain expertise, for the project. We arm our experts with the most advanced technology and tools to ensure that our customers get the optimal result. And we are obsessive about bringing the right technique to do the job. Our customers see iMerit as an essential partner in making sure their AI projects can not only enter production – but can be effective and successful.


3.The Finance Minister announced to set up three centers of excellence of AI in top educational institutions across India. How do you think this will help in achieving the visions, ‘Make AI India,’ and ‘Make AI work for India’?

I think this is an important step forward. I am a strong believer in the promise of AI for improving the lives of all Indians. There is a tremendous pool of young, educated, and motivated talent in India that can bring new innovations to life if given the opportunity. We as business and government leaders must invest in the next generation of tech talent and open doors to help them drive the next wave of AI innovation. There is an opportunity in front of us for India to be a global leader in AI. But we must invest to make that future a reality. This is a solid first step and I look forward to us doing more.


4.Data is imperative in automating tech in India. Do you think data intelligence will play a key role in making AI successful, and how?

I’m glad that you highlighted data intelligence because it’s critical. Data is the fuel that drives AI. Without proper data intelligence, you’ll never advance AI. In order for AI to be successful, you not only need a tremendous amount of high quality data, but the data needs to be put into proper context as well. This is where iMerit shines. We build custom solutions that enable AI teams to get the most out of their data and train their machine learning and AI models in a more precise way – which ultimately gets better results. As companies outline their AI strategy, the way they manage and annotate their data is one of the first things they must focus on. And the project’s success ultimately lies upon getting the data intelligence piece right.


5. Digital transformation has become a key objective for organizations across sectors. How is iMerit helping in transforming businesses & commercializing AI in India?

iMerit is an important player in AI development for companies around the world, and India’s role in this technology is important to us. We believe every company must prepare itself to compete in a digital world. That starts with ensuring that your people have the knowledge and skills to thrive in technology. Learning and development is a core value for iMerit and a big reason why our retention rate is well above 90%. We make continuous investments to ensure every employee at iMerit is advancing their technology skills, knowledge, and experience. Our investments are paying dividends as we grow our business, and our approach should be modeled by other companies in India.


6.Why has DataOps readiness become an essential factor for the adoption of Enterprise AI?

DataOps readiness is critical because of the magnitude of the amount of data needed to make AI work. If data fuels all AI, then an AI application can only be as good as the data used to train the models. And the amount of data needed to get AI right demands the organization be strategic and intentional in their approach to DataOps. Consequently, as companies look to embrace AI, they must ensure  their data strategy is sound in all phases of development, from proof of concept to post-production. iMerit works with hundreds of companies around the world to ensure they have the critical data needed to build AI applications that scale and handle the full workload of production.


7.Please highlight some growing trends that you expect to see in AI and ML implementations across industries.

We see tremendous innovation across a number of areas. The first iterations of AI were around technology innovations that “wowed” people with the possibilities but weren’t always useful. The next round of innovations will be centered on the business models of AI. We will see more AI applications with quantifiable results that lower costs, increase efficiency, or improve customer experience. What businesses of the future are going to be built on top of AI and done with a business mindset?

We already see this with generative language models like ChatGPT. In its first days, people were amazed it could happen. Within weeks, the discussion has turned to how it impacts people’s jobs. There are many people using tools like this to optimize the way they work, and we will see more innovations along those lines in the future.

In India, one of the areas of innovation that I’m most excited about is agritech. We have seen AI tools help farmers increase productivity and crop yield by doing things like predict weather patterns, manage pest control, and even improve autonomous mobility with tools like drones and farm equipment. Medical AI is another area where we see a growing demand at iMerit. We work with companies using AI to improve how we deliver healthcare to people around the world. That includes more efficient and effective methods of diagnosing illnesses earlier and more accurately. We also see major strides made in drug discovery efforts, as AI models are expanding our ability to combat illnesses.

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