Flipkart to carve out internal Artificial Intelligence unit | business news | Hindustan Times
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Flipkart to carve out internal Artificial Intelligence unit

Flipkart is looking for AI-related acquisitions in India and in the US. In 2015, Flipkart had acquired the F7 Labs in the Silicon Valley to focus on areas such as AI and machine learning.

business Updated: Dec 21, 2017 08:36 IST
Anirban Sen and Mihir Dalal
Flipkart co-founder and chairman Sachin Bansal.
Flipkart co-founder and chairman Sachin Bansal.(Hemant Mishra/MInt )

India’s largest online retailer Flipkart is making an ambitious push in the area of artificial intelligence by carving out an internal unit called AIforIndia, which will be overseen by its senior-most business and technology leaders as it attempts to put machine learning and AI at the core of its business.

In an interview, Flipkart co-founder and chairman Sachin Bansal said the e-commerce major will invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the AI initiative over the next few years. Bansal said Flipkart has begun recruiting dozens of AI experts, building infrastructure, striking hardware partnerships and working with top educational institutions including the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) to make its AI push successful.

He also said Flipkart is looking for AI-related acquisitions in India and in the US. In 2015, Flipkart had acquired the F7 Labs in the Silicon Valley to focus on areas such as AI and machine learning.

The new AI team will be headed by chief data scientist Mayur Datar with Bansal and Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy directly working on some key projects.

“This is the next big thing for us, where 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 Indian problems. We believe that some of the focus areas for AI in developed countries cannot be applied for India. At Flipkart, we will solve problems differently because the underlying problems (in India) are different,” Bansal said.

Flipkart will apply AI in a wide range of areas, both on the consumer facing side and the supply side.

“We believe that 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’re doing our inventory management, to how we do our supply planning, etc. These are huge problems that we have at Flipkart—we believe we can apply AI and machine learning to all of these problems,” Bansal said.