Verizon CIO Shankar Arumugavelu on putting emerging technologies to work

Verizon is transforming its business with NLP, machine learning, digital twin, and augmented reality.

shankar arumugavelu global cio verizon

Shankar Arumugavelu is what you might call a Verizon lifer. He was a director at telecom GTE when Bell Atlantic acquired it in 2000 to form Verizon. Today he’s SVP and global CIO of Verizon, where he’s helping to drive the company’s adoption of emerging technologies like AI and machine learning in service of creating competitive advantage and improving customer experience.

“As we look at emerging technologies, AI is a big area of focus,” Arumugavelu says. “You have disciplines within AI as well, whether it’s NLP or computer vision, robotic process automation, cognitive decisioning, etc. We have work going on across every single one of those disciplines to see how we can leverage that to drive a competitive advantage.”

Arumugavelu and his team evaluate technologies based on multiple criteria, but the ability to drive operational efficiency and to deliver a differentiated customer experience are two of the most important factors.

“When we talk AI and machine learning, these are technologies that have been there for many, many years. It’s just that now the time has come,” he says.

Data is the raw material that powers all these technologies, and Arumugavelu says Verizon has “no paucity” of it. Along with the growing volumes of data, there’s been a steady decrease in the cost of compute, greater accessibility of AI and machine learning research and algorithms, and increasing availability of tools to help democratize data.

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