In a clear step towards embracing data science on a larger scale, India’s telecom giant Bharti Airtel has appointed former NASA executive Santanu Bhattacharya as their chief data scientist. Bhattacharya will reportedly work specifically with new tech such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, augmented reality and virtual reality, among others.
A noted financial newspaper quoted an inside source saying that Bhattacharya was to oversee “day-to-day operations of Airtel’s upcoming digital innovation lab in Bengaluru which will focus on these emerging technologies.” An Airtel spokesperson confirmed also confirmed Bhattacharya’s appointment. Reportedly, Bhattacharya will be based out of Bengalur and will report to Harmeen Mehta, global CIO and head of Digital at Bharti Airtel.
Bhattacharya will be responsible for using data science capabilities and deep analytics to understand customer needs and develop innovative products and services for Airtel.
Before joining Airtel, Bhattacharya worked with Delhivery. He has a PhD from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre and has worked with noted companies such as AOL and Facebook. Bhattacharya is an MIT Sloan and MIT Media Lab alum and has a BTech degree from IIT Bombay.
Earlier this year, Bharti Airtel, had announced that they were partnering with Nokia to boost their service quality and operational efficiency through the employment of Nokia’s hybrid self-organising networks (SON) solution.
2018 has seen Bharti Airtel announcing a series of strategic alliances. In January, the company had entered into a collaboration with Hotstar to stream its shows on the Airtel TV app. Later, it announced a partnership with HMD Global to provide affordable 4G smartphones as a part of its ‘Mera Pehla Smartphone’ initiative.
Last year the Bharti family, pledged a whopping ₹7,000 crore towards philanthropy, which amounts to a total of 10 percent of their total wealth and is aimed towards supporting the activities of Bharti Foundation, philanthropic arm led by the Bharti Group. The family was planning to start a university which would teach subjects like artificial intelligence and robotics to children from poor communities.