Friday, April 12, 2024

Zoho’s Strategic Shift to Specialized AI and GPU Development


Zoho, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) giant, is working on smaller artificial intelligence (AI) models with 7 billion to 20 billion parameters to address specific domain problems for its customers. Sridhar Vembu, the founder of Zoho, highlighted this development during the CNBC-TV18 and Moneycontrol Global AI Conclave held on December 16.

Vembu explained that Zoho has discovered that smaller AI models are more effective for solving domain-specific problems, which is why they are not focusing on developing 500 billion parameter models for now. Additionally, the company is aiming to have its own graphics processing units (GPUs) infrastructure, as it is more cost-effective in the long term.

Speaking at the conclave, Vembu emphasized the importance of brain capital, stating that if intellectual capital is solved, financial capital will naturally follow. He also mentioned that the supply chain issues related to chips, which have been causing disruptions, will eventually be resolved. Vembu revealed that Zoho is collaborating with AMD, which is launching its own AI chips.

Regarding software development, Vembu pointed out that while 20 percent of the work is creative, the remaining 80 percent involves data bookkeeping, which can be automated. He referred to this 80 percent as the low-hanging fruit that can be targeted for automation.

Zoho recently introduced a suite of 13 generative AI extensions and integrations for its applications, powered by ChatGPT. The company is continuously enhancing its AI capabilities by incorporating third-party intelligence into Zia, its secure cloud-based AI engine.

In June 2023, Zoho revealed its plans to develop a large language model (LLM) similar to OpenAI’s GPT and Google’s PaLM 2 models. This initiative is being led by Sridhar Vembu and the Zoho R&D team in India. LLMs are designed to understand natural language, enabling them to process and generate text for tasks such as language translation, summarization, and question-answering.

Vembu has also been advocating for the implementation of an AI policy in India. In collaboration with Rajiv Kumar, former vice chairman of Niti Aayog, and Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSPIRT Foundation, Vembu submitted a proposal to the Indian central government in May 2023. The proposal aims to establish an AI policy that prioritizes openness and transparency.

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