India envisions an estimated five billion Internet of Things (IoT) connections by 2022. But it is already 2019 and IoT’s growth has been slower than anticipated. So, what ails the Internet of Things industry in India? Ajay Kamble, co-founder and CEO of Amwick Technologies Pvt Ltd, throws light on those areas which if worked upon can unleash the true potential of IoT and help adopt the technology on a large scale.
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?
IoT is very much a reality. Almost all the industries are adopting IoT solutions and we can see an increasing rate of adoption. There are various use cases that have been deployed across different industries and customers have already started reaping benefits.
We can debate over the rate of adoption. Yes, industries are going slow on IoT and are looking for proven use cases before adoption. Hence, we may not be seeing the same pace of adoption as was anticipated earlier by various analysts and industry leaders. IoT adoption will surely reach its zenith in the coming years and apart from business benefits, customers are also going to realize environmental benefits from IoT solution.
Q. In your opinion, is the Indian government playing any significant role in expanding the IoT market right now? If yes–how?
The government is very active in enabling and percolating IoT solutions. They are doing their part in expanding the IoT market. As a part of the Digital India initiative, a Centre of Excellence for IoT is formed to jumpstart the IoT ecosystem by taking advantage of India’s IT strengths. It is also aimed at helping the country to attain a leadership role in the convergent area of hardware and software.
The centre is a joint initiative by MeitY, NASSCOM and ERNET. The prime objective is to create innovative applications and domain capability across vertical for the country’s needs such as smart city, smart health, smart manufacturing, smart agriculture and others. Apart from this, the government is also formulating policies for the adoption and penetration of IoT in the country.
Q. What are your expectations from the government in terms of the initiatives they should take to make India an IoT-super power?
Not all innovation come from metros or big cities, there are ample startups in smaller cities that has got innovative products. I feel the government should put further emphasis on:
- Formulating strategy to bring such startups in mainstream
- Making funds and expertise available to such startups
- Providing platform for taking solutions globally
- Formulate strategy for enabling startups to participate in smart city tenders and other government tenders
- Have a separate participation criterion for startups in government tenders
If we take care of these basic things, we can definitely be on the right track of being an IoT superpower
Q. Are you satisfied at the rate of deployment of IoT solutions in India?
India market has traditionally been a slow adopter to any new technology or trends. The market has its own gestation period and will surely overcome the initial inertia of change and will start adopting the IoT solutions.
If we talk about manufacturing companies, they have started adopting solutions such as connected factories, asset management, predictive maintenance, etc. However, there exists an ample opportunity within the industry segment for additional innovative solutions. In the coming years, India will be seen as a major IoT solution adopter in most of the industry segment.
Q. How do you see the IoT market evolving in the next 2-3 years?
The market is changing very rapidly. In the coming years, the market will be exploded with more innovative and cost-effective solutions. Similarly, the existing fears of IoT will also ease and the adoption will peak up.
We are personally tracking some innovative solutions in manufacturing, health care and smart cities. If the decision makers show some strength in taking a risk, I am sure they can reap the benefits from the adoption and can be ahead of the competition. IoT is a space to watch out for in the coming years.
Q. Which industry segments do you believe will be driving a larger chunk of demand? Why?
I will concur with industry analysts on this point. Industrial IoT will still be the major market with, occupying approximately 25-27 per cent share of the total IoT market. Manufacturing, automotive, transportation and logistics and healthcare will lead in this space. There is a great opportunity and need for the traditional manufacturing process to make maximum use of these technological innovations.
We have been talking to various customers and see a resistance to change as well as fear for migrating from traditional manual process to more effective and innovative technology. It is just a matter of time when someone takes a lead and opens the market.
Smart cities will also get a boost. The government has allocated funds and is pushing the initiative aggressively. However, the decision makers need to think beyond developing road and infrastructure and start adopting technology to make cities safer, smarter and environment-friendly.
The companies who offer a simple solution to the complex unsolved problem and those who are always ready to innovate are going to survive and lead the market.
Q. What’s your bigger challenge–acquiring customers or acquiring talent? What’s your strategy in resolving the same?
Any new technology or technological revolution requires a lot of education and knowledge percolation to the clients regarding the what, why, when and how?
In the space that we operate in, that is the Industrial IoT, there is an unknown fear of change which is acting as an inertia in adopting new technologies. Once this is overcomed, every industry is going to change, drastically. Our biggest challenge is in convincing customers. Working in this vertical for more than two decades- individually, we have our partner network, which essentially takes care of our talent needs currently.
Q. What is the estimated revenue of your business that you’d attribute to IoT-related business?
We estimate over 80 percent of our revenues from IoT related solution. Quoting a revenue figure would be tough but we wish to grow exponentially.
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?
We are purely an IoT company with a focus on Industrial IoT. We have spent our initial years in developing a hardware platform that will be compatible with most of the IoT application platform. We will continue to generate over 80 per cent of our revenues via the IoT related business, while the rest of the business will be generated from helping clients in their digitization journey.
Q. What’s your strategy to create a differentiation for your solutions vis-a-vis your competitors?
IoT or an Industrial IoT solution has its own challenges. It starts right from the beginning of the project. The challenges range from time overrun to quality of data and integration required for making an end-to-end solution. The solutions are complex and require expertise.
We are trying to address all these challenges by developing a hardware framework or a platform that will address most of the industrial use cases and can be handy for system integrator, automation consultants, IoT platform players. It will enable them to quickly deploy the solution and expand the customer reach.
In addition to this, we are focusing on solutions that are typically unconventional. These proposed solutions would help manufacturing clients in solving the complex issues such as parent to child part traceability, production line statistical process control and much more.
Q. Any innovative strategy being planned or implemented by your team to create demand for your solutions amongst customers or channel partners?
Any solutions that we make takes into account the following things:
1) Create something new which does not exist or add over 20-30 per cent more value to existing solutions
2) Is there industry-wise acceptability to those solutions?
3) Can we cost optimize the design and implementation and make it affordable to the SME segment?
Q. Who is the key decision maker for you–the technology decision maker or the business decision maker?
The decision maker for us is the head of the production and/or head of quality. The cycle is slightly different here. We have to interact with the IT, operations and the finance to effectively pitch the solution and explain the benefits that will be derived out of the solution. We cannot miss any of the stakeholders.
Ideally, there has to be a separate IoT/Automation head position for manufacturing industries that would chalk the path for automation and process improvement. Till the time we mature to that stage we will have to deal with all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.
Q. Have you come across any successful deployment of IoT in India that’s worthy of being noticed by other decision makers?
Well, there are many. When we talk about the connected factory or process automation, machine monitoring, predictive maintenance, etc, we can talk about different companies and about the solutions that they offer. Naming a particular company may not be justified, but we have got ample examples that can be easily replicated across industries. Again, the solutions that are being offered do need some customization to fit a specific client or industry environment.
Q. How would you describe your solutions to a non-technical decision maker at the clients’ end?
We often use an analogy to put our message across to a non-technical decision maker. However, most of the time, the operations team does this job of convincing and making the business case for the non-technical decision maker. Once the value that they will be delivering and RoI is being established, we do not see any resistance from the nontechnical decision maker.
Q. What’s unique about your solution or your firm for them to opt for it–vis-a-vis competitors?
The solutions that you see in the market today are either addressing a single or a couple of use cases or system integrator who can cater to a vast majority of use cases.
However, what we are offering is actually helping the system integrator, automation consultants and pure play IoT platform players to speed up the IoT/IIoT solution deployment by providing a hardware framework along with integrated applications.
The solution that we offer can cater to over 90 per cent plus industrial IoT use cases. If we curtail the features of our patent pending Rudrino OneBox – same can be applied to smart agriculture, logistics, smart metering, smart cities and much more.
We are helping customers and SIs to reduce the time to implement with a robust solution that is cost optimized and supports multiple standards and use cases. So far, we haven’t seen competition for our product and solution.