Ravinder Pal Singh, Director, Dell EMC, has an experience of 23 years working in digital transformation and future technology areas. He is a Mentor and Evangelist for Tech Startups and is associated with many industry forums. He has worked with Cisco Systems, Wipro and Nashsoft Systems in the past. His domain expertise lies in areas including Internet of Things (Io)T, smart cities, digital enablement, eGov and data analytics.
In an exclusive conversation with EFY, Singh shared his views on the future of IoT in India. He also spoke on various topics ranging from technologies affecting the adoption of IoT to the readiness of India’s eco-system in developing and deploying IoT solutions.
Q. In your opinion, which are the top 3 technologies that are shaping the future of IoT? How are they influencing the future of IoT?
The next generation of IoT will be defined by 3As – Automation, Analytics & Artificial Intelligence (AI). IoT started with connecting things together. That made the process of automation easier but true weightage of IoT benefits was felt when real time data was acquired and analysed.
Going further, data will create meaningful insights which need to be consumed and communicated in real time to desired stakehoders. AI helps in making those meaningful insights get converted into real business use cases, which finally leads to change.
I call it 8Cs of IoT Cycle namely – Connect, Collect, Collate, Compute, Consume, Conserve, Communicate and Change.
Q. Between the cellular and NB-IOT/LPWA families of wireless technologies – which one are you betting upon? Why?
Every connectivity technology has its own merits and demerits. Cellular is easy to adopt and enable in IoT devices, however reliability and lack of right speed at right time does not make it popular for IoT devices.
Emerging ones like NB/LPWA are still in evolution stage, though they promise to make connectivity and data sharing easier at low cost. I believe we must give due weightage to every technology as we can’t make it “One Size Fits All”. With 5G coming, cellular will be much easier to rely on.
Q. How’s the development of standards (or lack of it) affecting the adoption of IoT?
Initially, we had no standards or policies relating to adoption of IoT. But over time, standards started evolving especially around IoT device connectivity, data acquisition, security and protocols. IEEE, ISO and few other global standards have led to the adoption and real use case implementation easier, especially in critical sectors like Utilities, Defence and Aviation.
Overall, standards make it easier for product manufacturers to position their devices for customers. But sometimes these also lead to blockades. Blockades take place in absence of local interpretation of standards.
Q. How ready is India’s tech eco-system to develop and deploy IoT solutions?
India is at the cusp of digital transformation. Due to our size and growing economy, it is a hotspot of emerging technologies. Both production and adoption of IoT is gaining much traction in this country. Few areas where India has an edge over others include – IoT expertise, availability of services and manpower, startup ecosystem and large-scale initiatives like Smart Cities, Digital India and Make in India.
Few areas which still need more focus and maturity include – security for IoT devices and data, lack of own laws (India’s data law is yet to become effective), lack of basic foundation in many sectors and immediate returns. All these are hampering adoption of IoT.
Q. Do you foresee India’s tech industry developing its own IP and branded products/solutions in the IOT arena?
In two recent startup hackathons that I attended, I saw many innovative use cases built entirely indigenously by young minds, in critical areas like Energy, Cleantech, Robotics, Environment and Security.
This is our own IP. Unfortunately, our IP and patent registration process is not considered good enough by many, hence, there is a delay and lack of IP registration locally.
Many startups and even large companies prefer to register IP in the West, which erodes our IP strengths. Government needs to do a bit more in these areas.
Q. Do you see the Open Source phenomenon play an important role in the IoT arena?
Open source is gaining traction as it is transparent, easy and saves users from getting stuck with proprietary technologies. However, there has been a caution which prevents mass adoption of Open source. This caution is mainly around security. Until we have strong standards and data laws governing this, open source will only be limited to few areas and sectors.
Q. How do you see the role, technologies like AI/ML will play in the evolution of IoT solutions?
AI and ML are already playing a very deep role. AI and ML are the enablers for IoT use cases. These technologies make it easier to draw insights out of data generated by IoT devices and systems.
As I mentioned earlier, along with data cycle (8C), AI and ML will help users to convert their IoT data into very meaningful insights. Further these will help in converting revenue yielding real use cases. This will enable mass adoption and use of IoT ecosystem.
Q. What’s your opinion on the state of security available for IOT solutions? How do you see the evolution from hereon w.r.t threats and counter-measures?
Security has been a concern both for the IoT devices and the generated data. As IoT Devices and systems are meant to be used in open spaces (like smart cities, buildings, vehicles, etc.), it is not easy to secure the devices. However, last few years have seen some advancements in these areas.
Root security of devices, remote configurations and auto destruction modes coupled with data encryption technologies have made security an easy adoption in this area. With standards, laws and protocols now clear, it is more secure and safe to use IoT use cases without worrying about the transfer and movement of data.
Emerging threats like Ransomware attacks have also added to this problem, but with availability of Cyber recovery solutions, the issue is now being addressed to a large extent. In my view, security is an ongoing evolution and needs constant focus. New threats keep on emerging, and we need to keep evolving with them.