The Internet of Things (IoT) has become an important part of today’s digital era. It provides tons and tons of data that needs to be managed and is a great fuel for digital transformation. Sreenath C. Lakshmanan, founder and CEO, i4DigitalValue, discusses the need for IoT in the post-pandemic era at the India Technology Week.
Q. You say IoT digital transformation is important in the post-pandemic era. Can you explain this by using an example for IoT digital transformation?
A. Let me explain this question by taking an example of how IoT works. As we all know, IoT is all about data. The focus is always to make data-driven decisions that are critical for any IoT business value. We should not ignore this data, but we need to innovate with it.
Once structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data are collected from IoT devices and sensors, these are sent to cloud via gateways, which use cellular and satellite communications for transmission. IoT platforms analyse the three types of data, and then user alerts are sent after data visualisation. Advanced techniques like artificial intelligence (AI) help with intelligent data decisions.
Integrated design thinking and digital transformation principles provide complete clarity. First, in generating appropriate data, aggregating data, optimising data, consolidating relevant data, and finally analysing data for business decisions. Second, in finalising IoT devices and sensors, cloud platforms, and cellular and satellite communications, which cater to specific requirements of devised bankable innovation.
Also, it provides a direction to adopt AI to make intelligent data decisions that would improve IoT operations and improve human/machine communications. The solutions can be built for smarter logistics, production, supply-chain, city, buildings, and more.
Q. Can you explain why IoT digital transformation is critical in the post-pandemic era for the Indian market?
A. From various reports, it is expected that the worldwide spending on IoT would surpass one trillion dollars mark in 2022. In India, IoT end-user solutions are expected to be around five to six per cent of worldwide spending.
The big question is whether all these companies can survive and be successful in this highly competitive market, which is already facing the heat of the pandemic?
The market in India needs products and services customised for its specific needs, and the solutions need to cater to these specific needs. A company that develops a bankable innovation, providing significant commercial value with problem-solving, scalable, and cost-efficient solutions, can disrupt the IoT market. This will result in a rapid change in market and business needs.
In my opinion, IoT digital transformation avoids disruptions and helps cater to the IoT market and business needs for enterprises to stay ahead in the competition.
In India, many organisations are trying to build a high level of digital literacy. But the older generation of customers may struggle in using these new technologies. This problem needs to be addressed by offering simplified, highly-productive IoT solutions.
Q. Can you tell us how startups can build a bankable solution to be an IoT successful company using digital transformation?
A. The startups should have a digital mindset of ‘Can we do differently?’ If this culture starts in the beginning, the transformation success is very high. One of the approaches that startups can use is ‘design thinking integrated with customer experience.’
The principle of design thinking provides excellent clarity to unpack problems and successfully navigate for desirable solutions with the human-centered design process and out of the box thinking. Customer experience principles, on the other hand, provide a deep understanding of customers’ needs and the ways to solve their business problems.
Digital thinking with digital literacy should be embedded within the new organisation. This can be done by becoming customer-focused and centric and relying on data and feedback to drive the innovation.
In order to arrive at a bankable innovation, it is important to realise the digital value and reimagine what is possible to develop. It starts with strategy and then applies design thinking principles to develop a possible bankable innovation that comprises digital capability, productivity, platforms, and complex data management. The digital transformation needs of people, process, technology, and data analytics is further adopted and implemented.
Q. What are the challenges for startups in the post-pandemic era?
A. The businesses are having a tough time at the moment, but we need to keep getting inspired, keep inventing, and keep innovating. The major challenge for startups is to raise funds or get additional funds as there is a reluctance to invest from the funding organisations. For companies already in their digital journey mid-way, it is a big challenge.
We all know that the post-pandemic is more focused on the teams working from home, which may impact creativity, exchanging of ideas, energy levels, and the ability of teams to deliver and execute. Automation becomes another challenge.
So, we would recommend that startups need to work in a different way to address the above challenges. For instance, they can look into developing solutions of a smart city, which will cater to the need of post-pandemic requirement for social change.
This smart city solution can be powered by empathy for decision making, automation, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine solutions, and emotional intelligence, apart from the defined needs of an IoT smart city solution. One positive observation is that breakthroughs in geographic barriers will happen as talent can be hired across the geography for the project, but you need effective digital governance.