Statistical Science, OR and IT

As we enter the year 2007, there is more OR happening and more statistical tools used, then ever in the history of mankind.

IT is growing by leaps and bounds, more so in India, with Indian IT companies Infosys, TCS and Wipro scaling to combined employee strength of more than 200,000 and combined annual revenue of nearly USD 10 billion. Since I know IT in India in more detail let me give some “statistics” to set the context. IT contributes to 4% of GDP of India today, created about 2.5 million jobs and accounts for Rs 120,000 Crores (USD 28 billion) export; it has potential to contribute 8% of GDP, add another 3.5 million jobs and Rs 300,000 crores (USD 80 billion) in the next decade. More important, companies like Infosys have managed several “firsts” for the entire industry; the first to offer ESOP (share wealth), list in NASDAQ (globalization), get NASDAQ opened “remotely” from Mysore (moving IT to Tier II towns) and be part of NASDAQ 100 (global leadership). IT and India are said to “go together” the way perfumes & France are or watches and Switzerland are.

India had a tradition of excellence in statistical sciences, aptly demonstrated by the likes of Professor CR Rao, Indian Statistical Institute and the very hosts (Statistical Department of SV University, Tirupati and the founder Prof MP Sastry).

India has a tradition of OR (the likes of Narendra Karmakar, the string of OR conferences by ORSI, many times in this very town).

It is time that we “leverage the synergy” to get a “leading position” to the country (we had been “trailing the West” for too long). In this talk, we trace the developments in OR, Statistical Science & IT in India and sketch the exciting scenario possible in the medium-term.

For brevity I will use just one example, namely, Data Mining.

It uses IT, Statistics & OR; it has applications in credit card rating, retail shelf-space optimization and to analyze telecom subscriber churn. With the fastest growing mobile market in the world (surpassing China) Indian mobile sector is hot (the global ripples in Hutch purchase is an indication). Retail boom is just starting with Tatas, Birlas, HLL, Godrej and Ambanis (the bigwigs) and FabMall, Subhiksha (the future bigwigs) getting their act together. Indian credit card growth will be the fastest in the world soon. Already GE, Honeywell, iFlex (to name a few) have some of the largest data mining groups in the world located in India. Naturally OR and Statistics have a great role to play. The youngsters should talk the right “lingo” to benefit. After all Google Page Rank algorithm and its constant fine-tuning are nothing but an excellent application of statistics, OR and of course IT.

If Google experience is an indication the next billionaire will be the one who uses statistics, OR and IT; it could well be from India; it could even be from this very town Tirupati!

Hopefully the Lord of the Seven Hills will bless us to reach there!

(Keynote Address, ISPS Annual Conference, Tirupati on January 7, 2006)

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