Otodato is a Gurgaon-based startup, serving the smart automotive segment. It is a first-of-its-kind neutral automotive data aggregation platform that paves the way for new automotive value-added services, benefiting drivers, passengers, smart cities, and companies in the automotive ecosystem.
In an interaction with EFY bureau, Rajan Malhotra, CEO, Otodato shares his views about the status of IoT deployment in India, the role of government, key segments driving IoT demand, Otodato’s IoT business, its unique solutions and much more.
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 do you feel that IoT is opening an entirely new market?
Internet of Things (IoT) was an unnamed buzzword in the era of ‘StarTrack’ and ‘Back to the Future’. However, now we see new and innovative gadgets being launched almost every day. We can control these gadgets with just our voice, just by giving voice commands or speaking to a smart speaker.
I love speaking to my Amazon Echo to book a cab for office while I finish my breakfast. So, I would not say that IoT is just a buzzword. It’s here and happening now and the growth of such connected devices is going to grow.
Q. In your opinion, is the Government of India (GoI) playing any significant role in expanding the IoT market right now? If yes – how?
Besides initiatives like Bharat Broadband Network, Centre of Excellence for Internet of Things, the Government of India has recently mandated AIS 140 or the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) for all public transportation systems. The requirements will enable all commercial vehicles to become connected vehicles, which will improve safety and provide a backbone for telematics driven transportation planning.
Q. What are your expectations from the GoI in terms of the initiatives they should take to make India an IoT-super power?
We would appreciate a quick rollout of the initiatives, which have been announced, and having all the government departments on board quickly, so as to see fast on-ground deployments.
Q. Are you satisfied at the rate of deployment of IoT solutions in India?
By and large, yes. But there are still challenges. Once the initiatives of the government take off for basic connectivity in the country, we should see much faster adoption and a lot more use cases for IoT. We see some delay in the technology adoption by the device manufacturers as well. With better penetration of 4G services, we would see that improving.
Q. How do you see the IoT market evolving in the next 2-3 years?
As new devices are added to the IoT eco-system and new enabler technologies are deployed, the IoT market is set to explode in the coming years. The introduction of 5G would be a game changer for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. Mission critical applications and applications requiring low latency will become a reality in the coming years. The automotive industry is experiencing digital transformation on two fronts: consumer and enterprise. Globally, the industry is witnessing the aggressive transformation from the consumer’s perspective, which will enhance customer experience. We see huge opportunities in India for telematics which will allow the use of much advanced and richer data like video and sound, coupled up with the basic GPS data. This can open up new dimensions.
Q. Which industry segments do you believe will be driving a larger chunk of demand? Why?
We should see good demand in the white goods segment, automotive segment, connected homes and Industrial IoT. These areas have huge untapped potential. Growth of data analytics would also be accompanied by growth in IoT in these areas. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will also open new doors to IoT ecosystem proliferation.
Q. What’s your bigger challenge – acquiring customers or acquiring talent? What’s your strategy in resolving the same?
Both customer and talent acquisition and retention are the basic needs of any business. Talent becomes even more important when one is working on the cutting-edge technology and in new unchartered areas of technology. Talent retention is a function of growth opportunities in the domain and work culture in the company.
We strive to maintain a balance between both to provide a growth-oriented balanced corporate environment within our organisation. Otodato has some core believes and set foundations. One of which was building the right team. Right from picking our co-founders and advisors, to our early employees, we have managed to do so with carefully crafted strategic decisions.
Q. What is the estimated revenue of your biz that you’d attribute to IoT-related business?
We are a telematics data services company. Our entire revenue comes from IoT related business.
Q. What’s your strategy to create a differentiation for your solutions vis-a-vis your competitors?
Otodato is a rather unconventional startup idea story. Instead of a Eureka moment, a lot of time and effort was put in to come up with a business differentiation. With a fair understanding of the IoT market and working closely with the industry stakeholders for about 6-7 months, we found huge gaps in the adoption of IoT in the Indian automobile sector. This gave us the motivation for converting this challenge into a business opportunity. Hence, the idea of Otodato was shaped and it became first-of-its-kind value-added services (VAS) platform for connected vehicles.
Q. Who is the key decision maker for you–the technology decision maker or the business decision maker?
At Otodato, we believe that technology/solution should add value to the customers. Hence, we give a lot of emphasis on customer needs rather than focusing on revenue or technology. We firmly believe that revenue is just a function of the value we add to our customer’s life and a robust technology is the enabler for the same.
Q. How would you describe your solutions to a non-technical decision maker at the clients’ end?
Thanks for asking this! Explaining our solution even to a technology-savvy customer is a difficult job, let alone the non-technical decision maker. But as I said earlier, it is all about the value we can add to their business and that’s all we need to explain to them.
Q. What’s unique about your solution or your firm for them to opt for it–vis-a-vis competitors?
We can help our customers adopt the technology at a much lesser cost, 30 per cent cheaper than the current adoption cost and at a much faster pace, i.e. 5X of the current pace.