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Microsoft India AI workshops to upskill government employees

Microsoft India partnered with the government of India to launch a new training program for government employees on AI, data governance and cloud computing.

A collaboration between Microsoft India, a subsidiary of the Microsoft Corporation, and the Indian government will bring AI, data governance and intelligent cloud computing skills training to 5,000 government employees in the world's second most populous country.

The Digital Governance Tech Tour, launched Aug. 23 during the Microsoft-sponsored Digital Governance Tech Summit 2019 in New Delhi, aims to offer free workshops and a certification to technocrats and IT professionals across the Indian government, including employees of state-run enterprises and government partners.

Microsoft India AI trainings

The Microsoft India AI trainings, intended to upskill employees, are a "good move" by the technology company, said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder of the advisory firm Deep Analysis.

"At a high level, training like this is long overdue not just in India, but everywhere, as AI is poorly understood and often poorly deployed," Pelz-Sharpe said.

Training like this is long overdue not just in India, but everywhere, as AI is poorly understood.
Alan Pelz-SharpeFounder, Deep Analysis

AI technologies could "help revolutionize the Indian government at national and local levels to massively reduce the paperwork mountains and introduce automation of processes," he said.

If understood and deployed effectively, AI and automation technologies could improve paperwork accuracy, increase transparency in decision-making processes and speed up workload processing times, Pelz-Sharpe said.

The government of India and Microsoft

The Digital Governance Tech Tour is in line with the Indian government's Digital India program, a national initiative to make the government's services available to citizens digitally. The program includes plans to enhance the government's IT infrastructure and bring high-speed internet to the rural parts of the country.  Microsoft has been offering cloud services to data centers in India for several years.

Microsoft India, based in Hyderabad, has worked closely with the Indian government and Indian businesses for years. Earlier in August, the private Indian School of Business and Microsoft India revealed a research partnership that will use AI technologies to study business and public policy issues.

Business users

It's important to educate business professionals and end users about AI technologies as well, Pelz-Sharpe said. The Microsoft India AI government workshop program should also offer trainings to non-IT government employees who are AI end users, he said.

"There is no doubt that IT professionals need to understand how AI works and how it can be deployed," Pelz-Sharpe said. "But the reality is that AI projects are by definition business transformation projects; they should be scoped, led and managed by business professionals, not IT professionals."

At least 80% of the work in any AI project is "business strategy, change management, data gathering and ongoing monitoring for accuracy and bias," he maintained.

"So, quite frankly I would be more excited if it was 5,000 Indian government department heads and managers being trained," Pelz-Sharpe said.

Pelz-Sharpe added that for AI technologies to reduce paperwork for the government of India, the people in charge of running existing manual processes need to help that transition.

"Without their buy-in, there will be little to no change, just big IT bills," he said. "They must be part of the conversation and education from the get-go."

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