IT Leadership

Times Internet Working on AI and Chatbots to Improve Security and IT Infra Efficiency

Times Internet, the digital media arm of Times Group, is upping the ante around adoption of new age technologies such as chatbots and AI/ML. Although, many of their businesses are using these technology for quite some time (including Personal Assistant in TOI, AI/ML in Colombia, Chatbots in Haptik) – they are now looking to adopt them for supporting internal functions.

The company is currently working on two AI/ML projects targeted towards improving the information security posture and understanding traffic trends on the various IT systems for anomaly detection. Meanwhile, it has already gone live with chatbots in the areas of IT help desk assistant and visitor management.

Talking about the company’s Internal AI/ML initiatives, Sumit Malhotra, Vice President – Technology, Times Internet, informs that he is currently exploring various applications of the technology in improving the performance and efficiency of the IT infrastructure. To begin with, Malhotra is leveraging AI/ML in making the company’s Security Operations Centre (SOC) more intelligent.

The company is working on upgrading its existing SOC and as part of that is planning to bring greater automation into its security operations. Using AI/ML will help understand the attack vectors better and also provide actionable insights to counter the attacks more effectively as well as take preventive actions in time.

Considering the fact that the company owns digital properties such as TOI, ET, Gaana, Timesjob, Navbharat Times, etc. which attract heavy web traffic and are also high on the radar of cyber criminals, there is a need for building in more intelligence into the security operations. The use of AI/ML will provide a significant leverage to Times Internet in strengthening its defenses against cyber attacks that are becoming increasingly sophisticated in nature.

The project is currently in the Proof of Concept (PoC) stage and implementation is expected in another three months’ time.

Another use case under works is using AI/ML for trend monitoring and analysis for all IT systems across the 38 business units of Times Internet. This will help understand the traffic trends and doing anomaly detection in real-time to ensure optimal performance and uptime for each of the company’s digital properties. The project is expected to go into beta in another month’s time.

Meanwhile, Malhotra is already going aggressive on leveraging chatbots for various use cases, foremost being tracking and monitoring of the datacentre health. The company has built a chatbot, called Maya, that checks 10 lakh metric points across all the systems in the datacentre, generates systems health reports and provides response in real time.

It’s essentially a chatbot for business services health with systems monitoring being done across all the business units of Times Internet. “We have over 3000+ Microservices which connect with each other and 100’s of third party systems to perform a task. At times, it becomes very difficult to timely pinpoint and track any performance or infrastructure issues with a particular business unit back to the specific system at the backend. We are targeting the chatbot to help address this concern to enable real-time resolution of any systems issues,” explains Malhotra.

For instance, if Gaana (one of Times internet’s business units) is facing any issues, then the concerned person from Gaana can ask Maya to find out and tell what piece in the datacentre is specifically causing the disruption.

Other than ease of use through enabling self service, the chatbot is helping save significant time that was earlier getting wasted in figuring out the root cause of the issue within the datacenter.

While currently the chatbot is not AI enabled, the eventual plan is to build intelligence into the chatbot using AI as more and more data gets into the system.

Besides Maya, two more chatbots – Lily and Toby are already operational and have streamlined the company’s visitor management and IT helpdesk functions. While Lily assists in providing guest Wi-Fi access and sending notifications of any visitors, Toby is the IT help desk for lodging requests for any internal corporate IT services. By enabling self service for the employees, both the chatbots have done away with the earlier lengthy and cumbersome process of sending emails, raising tickets and lots of back and forth between the employees and the IT team.

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