Infrastructure is One of the Biggest Challenges in India’s IoT Space

Utile IT Solutions Private Limited is a start-up that offers a broad spectrum of embedded design services and solutions in the area of IoT as a creator. It has partnered with industry leaders like Qualcomm and Bharti Airtel to provide the best of the technology solutions to all its users.

Dr G K Chadha, Senior Vice President – Business Development at Utile IT Solutions, says that a secure, easy-to-use and cost effective IoT solution makes the company stand out from the rest in the business. In an interview with EFY, he speaks at length about Utile IT’s stand on the current IoT scene in India.

 

Q. Many opine that IoT is just a buzzword that industry gurus have coined to create hype. Do you agree with that line of thought or you feel that IoT is opening an entirely new market?

Dr G K Chadha, Senior VP – Business Development, Utile IT Solutions

I agree with the line of thought that IoT is just being used as a buzzword. This is because the concept of connecting devices to the internet so that they can be controlled from anywhere is not a new one. It has been there for decades.

In my opinion, IoT will be realistic when the connected devices are integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). However, I also agree that it can open a lot of opportunities if solutions are created in the right direction with appropriate technology.

Q. In your opinion, is the Government of India playing any significant role in expanding the IoT market right now? If yes, how?

The current government has certainly aided in boosting the IoT market of India. Initiatives such as Start-up India and Smart Cities have played a massive role in accelerating the adoption of the latest technology, promoting entrepreneurship and easing the requirements of setting up a company.

Q. What are your expectations from the government in terms of the initiatives they should take to make India an IoT-super power?

I feel the government is working hard to promote technology start-ups and bringing in IoT in all the segments, be it transportation, education or agriculture. It has also mandated at least 25 per cent procurement from companies which are part of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) to help them become sustainable.

In the IoT space, I would say, one of the biggest challenges is infrastructure. This is in terms of internet availability, bandwidth and cloud. Let me recall my experience with cloud services. For our first solution, we approached big players who provide cloud services, but we ended up in a chicken and egg situation with these players. My takeaway was ‘show us the number of users and we will work with you.’ The question is how to enrich the user experience unless we are enabled.

Eventually, we ended up in setting up a local server, but it failed to offer the expected user experience.

Q. Are you satisfied with the rate of deployment of IoT solutions in India?

I am actually worried about the way all big players are moving forward with the deployment of IoT solutions here. When IoT buzzword started, all the major players ensured that they become the first in the market space to take the maximum advantage. Unfortunately, it resulted in various IoT solutions based on different technology protocols.

People have been using LoRa, BLE/Bluetooth®, WIFI, Zigbee and ZWave protocols to create their solutions. Now, from an end user’s perspective, s/he would need to have her/his IoT devices either centred around one of the solution providers or end up in deploying the gateway which would support all these protocols. This is resulting in either expensive proposition or underperforming solution based on the choice s/he makes.

Q. Which industry segments do you believe will be driving a larger chunk of demand?

Agriculture, asset management, fleet management, location-based services are some of the segments where we should see most of the solutions coming up in near future.

Q. What is your bigger challenge, acquiring customers or acquiring talent? What is your strategy in resolving the same?

I did not face any challenge in acquiring customers. I guess this may be just because I have spent enough time in the industry and people are aware of our technical capabilities.

However, the main challenge that I faced was while closing the project. I feel getting part-time engineers is still easy as compared to having the first FTE on board.

Q. What is the estimated revenue of your biz that you would attribute to IoT-related business? What fraction of your overall business is IoT-related?

This is the first year of our operation and our estimated revenue from the IoT segment is close to Rs 2 crore. Currently, IoT covers 90 per cent of our business.

Q. How do you see your IoT-related business growing in the next 2-3 years both in terms of revenue and as a fraction of your overall revenues?

All I can say is that we are coming up with some of the innovative solutions, which we hope to have a mass deployment and we have already partnered with some of the industry leaders like Qualcomm and Bharti Airtel for the purpose.

Q. Who is the key decision maker for you – the technology decision maker or the business decision maker? With whom do you start the conversation and how do you balance the interests of both types of decision makers?

The IoT industry is yet to become mature. Until then, we need to interact with both technology and business decision makers.

From a business decision maker’s point of view, we need to understand the problem s/he wants to address and work together on what it takes to create the required solution. Similarly, having a technology decision maker is important to ensure that we are moving ahead with the right technology that suits the use case, one that is scalable to an extent for future growth.

Q. Have you come across any successful deployment of IoT in India that is worthy of being noticed by other decision makers?

Honestly, I am yet to see a clean, full end-to-end IoT solution, irrespective of the industry segment. Most of the big players have picked up the segments of their choice (of existing infra) and then pass these to the end user. Here, we need to understand that not every end customer is technologically aware and solutions we make should be as simple as plug and play. Only then we can see a boost in the IoT space.

Q. What is unique about your solution or your firm vis-a-vis your competitors?

Utile IT has over 65 years of technology experience in the industry. We are well-equipped with technology and infrastructure and we are here to cater to consumers with secure and innovative IoT solutions. This makes us unique vis-à-vis our competitors.

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