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How IoT is transforming India Inc


While India has always had the scale, achieving the efficiency metrics comparable to global standards has been a traditional problem. Be it a sector like agriculture where the yield per acre is dismally low compared to other countries, or be it a sector like power where total transmission and distribution losses are more than 25%, India has traditionally struggled to improve its efficiencies to levels established by developed countries. How can India as a nation become more competitive and can technology help?

Among other emerging technologies, IoT, is one promising technology, that can help Indian enterprises raise the bar for productivity and efficiency to a different level.

A case in point which illustrates how IoT can be used to improve yields significantly, is Chitale Dairy, a dairy which sells over 60 million liters of milk annually. The dairy uses RFID tags to capture vital information about each cow or buffalo and transmits this information back to the dairy’s data center. Farmers can access this information about their animals from the company’s database using their mobile phones. Armed with this information, they can use this information to track behaviour and the expected levels of milk or when vaccinations have to be given.

“The use of IoT in Chitale Dairy’s case, is simple yet powerful considering the fact that they have managed to increase Murli Mohan, Director & General Manager, Dell Software Grouptheir yield and hence their market as well. The feeding and breeding of animals is now monitored by computers and by automating the collection of data from each farm, they have improved animal health, leading to increased milk yield per animal. This was possible by tagging every animal with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag that, when scanned, transmits unique information on each cow and buffalo back to the data center,”states Murli Mohan, Director and General Manager, Dell Software Group. By making use of realtime information, Chitale Dairy has managed to completely automate its entire milk production process.

Embedding IoT in business processes

With a focus on driving more value, Indian enterprises are focusing heavily on leveraging IoT in their business processes. In many manufacturing firms, IoT is being leveraged to check for continuous monitoring of critical assets, while many private sector energy power producers are using IoT to better manage and predict supply and demand. In the logistics industry, players like SafeExpress are using IoT to keep track of their trucks and better manage delivery schedules.

With the increasing need for automation of business processes, the demand for IoT is rapidly rising as it significantly enables reduction of manual intervention. With growing cellular network coverage, connectivity challenges are greatly reduced, which in turn, is giving a fillip to IoT usage and deployment.

Sudip Singh, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Engineering Services, Infosys“Indian service industries have a great growth potential in terms of IoT. IoT would not only help the services industry in reducing costs but also prevent in downtime of machines, improve efficiency, reduce energy consumption and enhance customer service. Hence with the maturity and proliferation of IoT, the service industry across India is poised for transformation,” states Sudip Singh, SVP, Head Global Services – Engineering Services, Infosys.  Singh says that IoT will also create automation opportunities in sectors where human intervention is difficult due to hazardous environmental conditions, such as mine fields. As the landscape for technology providers in IoT is vast and fragmented, Infosys is looking to play the role of an ecosystem integrator, wherein the firm would guide and help enterprises in their IoT journey.

Automotive players such as Hero MoroCorp, Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors are actively using IoT in different forms. In a previous interview with EC, Jagdish Belwal, Chief Information Officer at Tata Motors, had stated that his firm was doing some experiments to find out how IoT could help its firm in improving the maintenance of plants. “The technology vertical is working jointly with the manufacturing teams to identify all the opportunities where further efficiency can be brought by making the processes simpler through the use of new solutions from IoT,” said Jagdish Belwal, Chief Information Officer at Tata Motors.

Most automotive firms have GPS-enabled their fleet for getting real-time information of their trucks, which in turn helps dealers to get updated information on location of material.

Similarly, JCB India, a firm which manufactures construction equipment, provides an IoT-based service to its clients, which ensures proactive maintenance of its equipment. JCB India’s telematics service allows users to remotely monitor the overall health and performance of machines in the field. Statistics such as fuel consumption, idle time and equipment usage can be studied and analysed, which in turn, can lead to better productivity. Moreover, a geo-fencing feature ensures that the machine does not go outside defined boundary conditions. Today, JCB has successfully connected over 10,000 construction machines, which are deployed for its customers, across India.

Infosys is using IoT-based solutions in its own campuses for monitoring the performance of various assets like chillers, air handling units, gensets and other critical assets. Energy consumption of each asset is monitored and optimised over the years realizing substantial energy savings.

Another interesting case of IoT deployment is demonstrated by Kerala Water Authority. Due to aging pipes and unauthorised usage of water, the department faces a huge challenge in ensuring equitable water supply to a population of more than 3 million people. The firm has deployed sensors, which when used in conjunction with a customised solution from IBM helps the firm in receiving alerts related to irregularities in water supply or repairs. The firm uses sensors to measure water turbidity, salinity and chlorine levels. If there is a change from accepted norms, then the team can immediately take corrective action.

What is driving IoT usage in India

The promise of real-time monitoring and tracking of services and systems has helped in boosting the demand for IoT. A recent TechSci Research report on the IoT market in India predicts that the IoT market in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 28% during the period from 2015 to 2020. The firm estimates that the growth in the market is anticipated due to demand for real-time monitoring and tracking of services and systems across diverse industry verticals to reduce operational and manpower costs. Additionally, the research firm believes that government projects such as smart cities, smart transportation, smart grids are also expected to further propel use of IoT technology in the country over the next five years.

Agrees Purushottam Kaushik- Managing Director, Sales, Cisco India & SAARC, “We are seeing a great impact of IoT in the Purushottam CiscoIndian Government’s vision of smart cities, which will be built on the backbone of all devices in the IoT space. The entire ecosystem of smart cities – healthcare, education, infrastructure, agriculture and other industries would get a fillip. State governments are also working on blueprints and competing with each other to stay ahead of the curve.”

The Government of India will be a key player in pushing IoT, as it can help in monitoring service delivery. “Governments both state and central through all the proposed digital initiatives are likely to see the biggest transitions which will not only just help in reducing costs and improve revenue by plugging all the leakages, but will also help improve the experience of service delivery tremendously,” states Kaushik.

As the Indian government is actively pushing the concept of Digital India and smart cities, there will be a huge focus on IoT. “One of the main initiatives under ‘Digital India’ is smart cities, and the Indian government plans to use almost 1.6 billion connected things. In the larger cities, the cost of management, energy, and maintenance can be extensively brought down with the implementation of IoT. Additionally, India has the 3rd largest smartphone market in the world, and is expected to progress from 200 million Internet users in 2013 to 500 million by 2017. This growth will soon be extended to other devices as well, and with the ease with which IoT connects devices like PC, tablets, cars, and wearables, IoT can be expected to be the largest device market. All in all, the digital transformation going on in India will be one of the biggest contributors of growth for IoT in India,” states Andy Stevenson, Head of Middle East and India, Managing Director for India, Fujitsu. Stevenson believes that a country like India, which is rapidly developing and already at the precipice of connectivity and mobility, can reap huge benefits from IoT as it brings about the convergence of various technologies.

Looking at the growth opportunities in India, Cisco has partnered with Electronics City Industries Association (ELCIA) in Bangalore to set up Asia’s first ‘Internet of Things (IoT) Innovation Hub’. This project will lay the foundation for a new ecosystem to help Electronic System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) companies to develop solutions for City Infrastructure Management (CIM) including Smart Parking, Smart CCTV Surveillance, Smart Street Lighting, Smart Water Management/Leak Detection and Community Messaging.

Similarly, Dell has launched the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series, specifically for IoT. This device is designed to aggregate, secure and relay data from diverse sensors and equipment. The device has the capacity to perform local analytics so that only meaningful information is sent to the next tier, which could be another gateway, the datacenter or the cloud. From an Indian perspective, where bandwidth can be expensive, this solution is aimed at helping enterprises in minimizing the consumption of expensive network bandwidth and in reducing overall solution latency.

The explosion in the number of banking and mobile related services has led to huge deployment of ATMs and cellphone towers across various developing countries. These firms see in IoT, a great technology to help in managing assets.

Says Prabhu Ramachandran, Director, WebNMS, “As enterprises start to realize the importance of optimizing operational cost of fixtures, the focus has now shifted to investing in technology that could help minimize operational expenditure and improve the bottom line. IoT technology would be a catalyst in facilitating this transition.”

In India, WebNMS is closely working with companies in the power and utilities, energy and lighting, real estate, banking (ATM) and telecom industries to remotely monitor energy consumption, utilization, performance, security and efficiency of assets.

Future of IoT in India

India is on the cusp of a huge digital revolution, and the Indian government’s focus on developing smart cities will lead to further adoption of IoT in India. The smart city initiative by the government requires seamless digital and physical infrastructure to be shared efficiently across devices and applications to enhance end services and optimize costs. IoT can play a critical role in fulfilling this vision.

“India is in a perfect sweet spot to leverage the market opportunity emerging through IoT. By virtue of a strong ecosystem of IT organizations, huge growth in mobile internet usage, renewed focus on manufacturing and tremendous potential of opportunities in education, healthcare and agriculture, India can time investment into this opportunity very well,” believes Kaushik.

In the case of sectors like healthcare and insurance, IoT can be a potential game changing technology. “In healthcare, IoT would create the opportunity of remote patient monitoring that would change the dynamics of healthcare treatment. Similarly, usage based insurance by using wearables or dongles can change how insurance companies are designing their policies – both in life and non-life insurance domains,” states Singh.

Interoperability among IoT products and solutions is a key challenge, and industry experts believe that as India travels further on the path of IoT adoption, there will be a significant push towards making interoperable and secure products. “The growth of data along with huge number of interconnected devices will also mean that there will be significant focus on development of security solutions for IoT. Administrators across different verticals will focus on keeping their data safe while managing through the minefield of interconnected devices,” opines Mohan.

Understanding the critical importance of IoT in enhancing growth for the country, NASSCOM has setup a special CoE for IoT under DEITY (Department of Electronics and Information Technology). This will not only act as an incubation center for startups but will also help in brining technology innovators, technology adopters and service provides under one single forum that can lead to increase the pace of adoption.

The applicability of IoT in monitoring service levels and in predictive maintenance of equipments can lead to improved efficiencies. As India is primarily a services-led economy, even a small difference in enhancement of productivity levels can significantly improve India’s competitiveness in the global landscape.

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