For smart cities to be fully operational, the government should also empanel domain experts, industry leaders who can guide the bureaucracy to extend maximum support, says C K Unnikrishnan, Director and Founder, UNISEM Electronics.
In an interview with EFY bureau, he also speaks about the IoT market, deployment of IoT in India, government’s role in IoT implementation, how UNISEM’s solutions are different from its competitors 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) is here to stay. We are all feeling it in our lives. Shared cabs, e-commerce, shared apartments, better analytics and data collection from sensors and connected devices are all the results of IoT and are changing the lives of people. IoT has been opening new opportunities and will rapidly change the way we transact, travel and live.
Q. In your opinion, is the government of India (GoI) playing any significant role in expanding the IoT market right now? If yes – how?
Yes, the government of India is playing a good role. IoT technology is in the inception stage. The government is contributing by way of encouraging start-ups, which are at the forefront of cutting-edge IoT technology, offering tax holidays and providing infrastructure in terms of start-up parks, etc.
Q. What are your expectations from the GoI in terms of the initiatives they should take to make India an IoT-super power?
The government has to provide infrastructure, remove red tape and create a conducive environment for the IoT start-ups to flourish. For smart cities to be fully operational, the government should also empanel domain experts and industry leaders who can guide the bureaucracy to extend maximum support.
Q. Are you satisfied at the rate of deployment of IoT solutions in India?
We have a long way to go. We are at the inception stage. However, we are seeing the market maturing as smart phone penetration increases. For vehicle tracking system, the government is bringing regulations, such as AIS140 or the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), to promote the technology deployment in the country.
Q. How do you see the IoT market evolving in the next 2-3 years?
The IoT market will see a rapid explosion in terms of new and better-connected devices, sensors, applications, etc.
Q. Which industry segments, do you believe, will be driving a larger chunk of demand? Why?
The major demand will be in smart cities, which will see deployment of smart meters, smart gas meter, smart water meters, smart poles and other IoT devices. The other segment would be smart homes in terms of e-locks, smart security devices, etc.
Q. What’s your bigger challenge – acquiring customers or acquiring talent? What’s your strategy in resolving the same?
We are seeing a general buzz in the industry. As our business model is targeted at ‘joining the dots’ of the start-up ecosystem, we have ample customer interactions. For us, acquiring talent is a challenge as the current generation of employees tend to be impatient and do not stick to an assignment for long. To retain the talent, positive reinforcement and mentoring is mandatory.
Q. What is the estimated revenue of your business that you would attribute to IoT?
With our flagship product representation, Simcom, IoT will be a major part of our business. Simcom is at the forefront of GSM/GPRS module technology with solutions in 2G/3G/4G/NB-IoT. We are offering Simcom-based designs for vehicle tracking, smart lighting and smart agriculture.
Q. How do you see your IoT-related business growing in the next 2-3 years?
We are looking at 100% growth in this sector.
Q. What’s your strategy to create a niche for your solutions vis-a-vis your competitors?
We have a repository of industry learning, working with a cross-section of IoT customers. We have worked with both customers who have entered mass production and those who have not. We are future-proofing the designs based on these learnings so that the degree of success is high.
Q. Any innovative strategy being planned or implemented by your team to create demand for your solutions among customers or channel partners?
To get success, the strategy in any venture is to identify a chronic problem in the industry/common man’s life and devise a solution accordingly. We are in the final stages of developing an innovative product that can change the way traditional locks are used. We are targeting the oil sector, logistics and home automation segment, which will be a game changer.
Q. Who is the key decision-maker for you – the technology decision-maker or the business-decision maker?
Currently, our prime focus is on promising start-ups and in this segment, the line is blurred with founders donning the techno-commercial roles.
Q. Have you come across any successful deployment of IoT in India that’s worthy of being noticed by other decision-makers? If yes, can you share details of the same?
We have been working with a couple of customers, who have done well in their domains like vehicle tracking and POS. We have customers like iTriangle Infotech in the vehicle-tracking space and ToneTag in POS.
Q. How would you describe your solutions to a non-technical decision-maker at the clients’ end?
We either talk to a company’s tech lead, who can comprehend the technology or to the non-technical management team member, who understands the impact of technology on the market and their end-customers.
Q. What’s unique about your solution or your firm that makes it stand out from competitors?
Success of an electronic hardware product depends on the right component selection. With our deep domain knowledge of procurement and dedicated procurement offices in Singapore and the UAE, we are able to offer what we call the three axis – quality, lead time and price. These three aspects should strike a fine balance, otherwise the product would fail.