Gunawan Susanto
Category: Next Gen By : Shintya Felicitas Read : 626 Date : Monday, September 04, 2017 - 13:26:43




Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

The ballroom of Hotel JW Marriot Jakarta was transformed into a cutting-edge science fair when IBM Indonesia held its first Watson Summit in Indonesia last month. On stage, IBM Indonesia President Director Gunawan Susanto, 38, talked with a robot powered by Watson, IBM’s cloud-based artificial intelligence. The robot can self-improve itself in the same way as humans do, through learning and experience.

On the same day, IBM also showed how its technologies and services can be applied in real life, such as improving logistics with blockchain technology, or provide better treatment for cancer patients. For Gunawan, who became IBM Indonesia president director three years ago, the future for IBM’s business is in cognitive computing, a form of artificial intelligence. “People have seen cognitive computing in movies, and robots replacing humans. Not many fully understand how it can be applied to help their business, so we are showing some use cases to spark ideas,” says Gunawan, the youngest ever person to hold the president director position.

Gunawan sees Indonesia as a key market with huge potential, given the country’s fast growing usage of apps, smart phones and the Internet, and filled with tech-savvy millennials. The Watson Summit is just one of the approaches Gunawan is using to woo more customers. He is also working to raise the skill sets of local developers, even supporting a program to teach the blind to learn coding. IBM has also joined the Dicoding initiative (also supported by Google, Microsoft and Samsung) to help train new developers, to fill the need for more IT professionals in the country. So far, IBM has trained 4,000 developers, including for cognitive computing.

Another opportunity is teaming up with startups, as well as looking to partner with next generation leaders of family businesses, who can be an entry point into the family’s main businesses. On the government side, IBM has begun to introduce new technologies, such as blockchain, to financial regulators.

The key technology is IBM’s APIs, or application program interface, a tool for building apps. “We let them play with our APIs. This will prepare the supply side when the demand starts growing. We also connect the developer community with companies and pitch some use cases. If it turns into a real business for them, they will be more serious about studying. What’s in it for us? Nothing yet. We hope that they will use the IBM platform, and one day when they need more advanced analytics and cognitive computing, so they will need IBM’s APIs,” says Gunawan. 

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