W Power 2024

AI for Social Good: Revolutionising lives through operational excellence

The transformative potential of AI for social good is intricately tied to operational excellence. Collaborative, sustainable and personalised AI efforts present strategies to showcase the broad impact of AI on diverse sectors

Published: Feb 13, 2024 03:42:57 PM IST
Updated: Feb 13, 2024 03:50:22 PM IST

AI initiatives are reshaping India's future, emphasising social good as a primary focus.
Image: ShutterstockAI initiatives are reshaping India's future, emphasising social good as a primary focus. Image: Shutterstock

The growing digital disparity between urban and rural areas has become a critical issue in India, accentuating the gap between metropolitan success stories and rural challenges in accessing technology. Despite a commendable 13 percent digital growth rate, Oxfam India's Inequality Report reveals that only 31 percent of the rural population has internet access compared to the more affluent 67 percent in urban areas. The consequences are palpable—restricted educational opportunities, limited healthcare access, and persistent regional economic disparities. Can artificial intelligence (AI) be the transformative force to bridge this digital chasm?

Amid this digital divide, AI initiatives are reshaping India's future, emphasising social good as a primary focus. A strategic framework is crucial for C-suite executives eyeing inclusive growth through AI.

Let's delve into a proposed narrative that guides organisations in harnessing AI for societal benefit while aligning with their commercial objectives. This win-win strategy unfolds as a strategic resource of operational excellence towards resolving rural challenges.

Collaborative AI for Healthcare Advancements:

The healthcare sector is experiencing a revolutionary shift driven by collaborative AI initiatives. The Tamil Nadu government's e-Paravai Initiative is a standout example, where AI is harnessed to combat cataracts. This initiative ensures operational efficiency through strategic collaborations, delivering critical healthcare benefits even to the remotest areas, transcending geographical constraints. This addresses healthcare disparities and contributes to closing the digital divide by extending the reach of medical services.

IBM's Watson for Oncology further showcases the power of collaboration in streamlining personalised cancer treatment recommendations. Complementing this, Logy.AI and QureAI contribute to diagnostic advancements, bridging geographical gaps in healthcare. Aravind Eye Care System stands as a non-profit initiative strategically utilising AI for affordable and inclusive eye disease diagnosis, prioritising societal impact over profit margins.

These examples underscore the transformative potential of collaborative efforts in advancing medical practices, providing a blueprint for leveraging AI to address rural healthcare challenges.

Also read: India's developer community to play a key role in global AI innovation: Satya Nadella

Sustainable AI for Social and Environmental Impact:

Operational sustainability takes centre stage, showcasing the harmonious relationship between business objectives and environmental responsibility. Infosys, a trailblazer in sustainable operations, integrates AI to optimise energy use. This strategic approach not only meets business goals but also emphasises a commitment to environmental responsibility. In agriculture, CropIn's predictive analytics and Wadhwani AI's agricultural initiatives exemplify how AI-driven operations contribute to sustainable farming practices and economic growth.

The strategic integration of AI in sustainable operations doesn't merely address environmental concerns; it also plays a vital role in promoting inclusivity. By incorporating AI into sustainable practices, organisations can extend the benefits of eco-friendly operations to rural areas, contributing to a more equitable distribution of resources. Waycool's agri-tech innovations utilise IoT and Data Analytics, transforming agricultural operations and ensuring customised recommendations for farmers, thereby contributing to agricultural sustainability and economic growth.

Enabling Financial Inclusion:

AI is pivotal in driving financial inclusion, and JAM Trinity is a great testimony. Leveraging AI in financial inclusion, India's JAM Trinity initiative combines Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, and Mobile technology. AI algorithms analyse financial data to tailor services, ensuring a more inclusive and efficient financial system.

Moreover, companies like Paytm and PhonePe utilise AI to offer personalised financial services to the unbanked, revolutionising access to banking and financial resources. Initiatives like Rang De leverage AI to assess creditworthiness, provide financial services to women in rural areas, and promote economic independence.

Personalised AI for Education and Empowerment:

Edtech platforms powered by AI are transforming child education in rural India. Initiatives such as Project Udaan use AI to create personalised learning experiences, addressing the unique needs of each child and enhancing overall educational outcomes. One such example is that of Microsoft's Project Shiksha, which utilises AI to provide personalised learning experiences, aiming to transform rural education in India. Through adaptive learning platforms, AI ensures educational content is tailored to individual needs, promoting inclusivity in education. Other examples include BYJU's and Khan Academy, which leverages AI to create personalised learning experiences for students in rural areas, bridging educational gaps and enhancing accessibility.

The National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj's (NIRDPR) RICE program employs AI to educate rural communities on climate change, address environmental concerns, and empower communities with operational knowledge and skills. Zoho's AI-driven initiative emphasises vocational training and employment opportunities for women, contributing to their empowerment and economic independence.

As corporate leaders navigate the evolving technological landscape, the challenge lies in understanding technology's complexities and leveraging its potential to align innovation with societal well-being.

The success story of using AI for social good in India exemplifies the transformative power of responsible leadership, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future. In conclusion, the transformative potential of AI for social good is intricately tied to operational excellence. Collaborative, sustainable and personalised AI efforts present strategies to showcase the broad impact of AI on diverse sectors. As we navigate this technology-driven future, these initiatives stand as beacons, illuminating the path toward a more inclusive, sustainable, and technologically advanced society. The key takeaway is clear—embracing AI with a purpose-driven approach can unlock immense potential for inclusive growth, ensuring that the benefits of technology reach every corner of the nation.
 Ananya Roy is a Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) student at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. In the past, she worked as an AI architect with Deloitte.   
 Vijaya Sunder M is an Assistant Professor of Operations Management and Academic Director of the Centre for Business Innovation at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

[This article has been reproduced with permission from the Indian School of Business, India]