When you're at the top, it is almost given that people are going to notice you and try to take a share of your pie. A similar thing is happening to the Indian startup ecosystem which seems to have caught technology giant IBM's eyes. The Indian startup ecosystem, which is currently the third largest startup ecosystem in the world and has the potential of becoming number one someday has tempted IBM to align a new focus on the ecosystem and speed up its efforts to interact with it.

Speaking to Gadgets 360, Nipun Mehrotra, IBM's Chief Digital Officer for India and South Asia threw light on how until now the giant had been doing these efforts in various nooks and corners across the country but under the new organisation that IBM has become under him, they have realigned their focus on the startup ecosystem and the goal is now to provide a more centralised support structure for the startup ecosystem.

The organisation acknowledges the fact that when it comes to startups, they have experimented very little but with their new focus in place and the process being streamlined at the global level, things are going to change for better.

The technology giant is optimistic that it can help young entrepreneurs and startups with a number of things such as India stack integration etc. Further, it can also extend a helping hand in interfacing them with the various government agencies as well as businesses that can be their customers.
Though IBM's interest in the startup ecosystem is great for the industry but it seems to have come much late. Several other technology giants such as Google and Amazon which could be described upstarts in the past years are also vying for the same startups and have been meticulously working on areas such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and machine learning, and so on. The list also includes social networking giant Facebook and software giant Microsoft.

Mehrotra addresses this problem in the interview and says that many of the young entrepreneurs and startups might find IBM's counterparts more interesting than them because they are consumer facing, and IBM's customers are pretty different. But, according to him, the real thing is that they have actually been in the forefront. While others have been experimenting with chatbots, IBM's Watson platform is the one that has been providing actual intelligence.

Mehrotra further clarified his company's stance and says that IBM is in fact very industry oriented. Though people might not automatically think of them because they weren't the ones behind starting IoT, or wearable approach to machine learning. But, those were more visible, and not a deep problem.

IBM's biggest strength is in enterprises, but according to Mehrotra, IBM would be open to working with consumer facing startups as well. This is because many-a-times there are products that the startups aren't even aware are capable of solving a requirement that IBM's customers might have. "A consumer product can be very useful in a B2B market as well, because eventual our customers are B2C, so there is an end user you have to develop for, said Mehrotra.

IBM believes that there still a lot of unexplored terrain when it comes to areas such as education, fintech, e-commerce, and health, and these are the areas that the giant would like to invest its attention in when working with startups. According to Mehrotra, IBM's focus is on deep technology and how they can make a difference with it when combined with the right business model.

Referring to the large enterprise clients that work with the giant, Mehrotra claims IBM has the biggest biggest customer base in the industry which helps them get deep insight into how the overall market is looking time to time, and what all niches exist to be populated. According to Mehrotra, IBM basically has two approaches to the scenario. Sometimes, they work with people to build things from the ground up, and at other times they try finding a startup that's doing something, and a customer that has the same need, or bring multiple startups together to work together and build a solution.

The best thing is, that IBM isn't actually investing any of its money in doing this- instead the company offers startups consultations on business and technology, access to talent and tools within the company, and applies it's invaluable design thinking principles to their businesses and prepares them build for the future.

Though IBM might be a little late to the party, but as they say, "better late than never."

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