IoT will Play a Huge Role in Building Operational Efficiency

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With the belief to leverage the enormous potential of IoT applications in home automation, Smarthome NX created a platform that covers all aspects of home technology, including smart home, the next generation of connected consumer electronics and home appliances.

Dhaval Doshi, CEO, Smarthome NX, in an interaction with EFY bureau, talks about the IoT market, role of government in expanding the IoT market, major segments likely to drive IoT demand in future and many more.

Excerpts:

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?

Dhaval Doshi, CEO, Smarthome NX

The truth is that the buzzword has been created by media outlets in order to indicate a growing trend. However, this is surely not a hype. The adoption of IoT across all domains including personal use, commercial and industrial has grown exponentially in the past few years. There is no reason for us to not to be excited about this. 4G connectivity, decreasing cost of components and availability of data and insights (derived from that data) has made IoT more lucrative to all stakeholders – consumers and businesses alike.

The hype around its misinterpretation is not justified i.e. IoT is not the solution to every problem. It is sad to see that innovation usually stops after connecting devices, instead of taking it one step forward and building use cases for connected devices. The day we start thinking about solutions that have real use cases that leverage connectivity and data, we will see entirely new markets developing. For example, car insurance is set to be revolutionised with vehicle performance data, impacting the premiums being paid. Imagine your good driving habits reducing your insurance premiums. There are a lot of such solutions in the market that insurance companies across the globe are piloting. This changes the game and the business completely.

Q. In your opinion, is the Government of India (GoI) playing any significant role in expanding the IoT market right now? If yes – how?

I have been active in government startup interaction forums and have found that they are working on various data stacks to help enterprises and municipalities use data to leverage consumer experiences. However, there is a lot more work that is yet to be done.

Q. What are your expectations from the GoI in terms of the initiatives they should take to make India an IoT-super power?

One of the initiatives that GoI needs to look at is the standardisation of communication protocols. There is a need to identify, regulate and build a policy around IoT which does not hamper innovation, while at the same time allows companies to build solutions for the masses. India is a very interesting economy and demography. We need to leverage IoT to solve the country’s biggest problems in agriculture, energy management and for the public at large. I would love to see a policy that encourages innovation to solve these problems at scale. And for that scale, we need the right communication protocols in place.

Q. Are you satisfied at the rate of deployment of IoT solutions in India?

Not really. Not at all.

Q. How do you see the IoT market evolving in the next 2-3 years?

Slowly and in a sluggish manner in the personal IoT space but very rapidly on the industrial side.

Q. Which industry segments do you believe will be driving a larger chunk of demand? Why?

The larger demand will be on the industrial side. There is a need to cut costs across the board. IoT will play a huge role in building operational efficiency.

Q. What’s your bigger challenge – acquiring customers or acquiring talent? What’s your strategy in resolving the same?

Both. We sell smart home solutions and most consumers do not understand the value it adds in their life. Talent-wise, we have a lot of good talent. They understand technology but cannot communicate and explain to our customers about the advanced technology we have. Therefore, we are struggling to find good talent that can communicate well. Our motto is to “Simplify Smart Homes” and we need people who can do that.

Q. What is the estimated revenue of your biz that you’d attribute to IoT-related business? What fraction of your overall business is the IoT-related business?

All of our revenue is from the IoT solutions we provide.

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 setting up an experience centre to make it easy for customers to understand, touch and feel the products we sell. In terms of revenue, we are looking for a three-fold growth in the next two years.

Q. What’s your strategy to create a differentiation for your solutions vis-a-vis your competitors?

We focus on the end customers and their problems. While a lot of our customers are new homeowners, we spend a lot of time understanding their lifestyle before we offer any of our solutions. That gives us an edge because the solutions are tailor-made in terms of custom set-ups for ‘audio-video’, ‘security’ and even ‘automation’. Moreover, since we provide multiple brands – we are a one-stop shop. Right from security, automation, media room solutions, conference rooms and even voice-activated lights – it’s all available at one place. Unlike most retailers who also stock automation, ours is the only one dedicated to IoT devices. What’s more is that we also offer robotic vacuum cleaners and other such products which go beyond the “traditional home automation” segment. So, there is something of utility value for everyone and not just technological gimmicks.

Q. Who is the key decision maker for you–the technology decision maker or the business decision maker? With whom do you start the conversation–and how do you balance the interests of both types of decision makers?

We are not a B2B company, so our conversations and interactions are fairly simple. We do work with builders and architects and explain to them our products and solutions. We balance interests by telling them how our solutions can increase their property value or their overall value proposition in the eyes of customers or homeowners.

Q. Have you come across any successful deployment of IoT in India that’s worthy of being noticed by other decision makers?

Not really.

Q. How would you describe your solutions to a non-technical decision maker at the clients’ end?

We discuss about the IoT solutions in context of their lifestyle. For example, who does not like to live in a comfortable home with all the conveniences? When our IoT solutions can enable that, we focus on those aspects rather than droning about their features.

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