Real Boom in IoT Solutions May Happen in the Next 2-3 Years

CHIPWIRE is focused on developing Internet of Things (IoT) enabled products while offering them under a ‘IoT As A Service Model’ for the connected world. Chipwire is a specialist in using the power of Narrowband RF technology to support the IoT, providing highly efficient communication via scalable Networks. Chipwire solutions include smart trackers and LPWAN solutions for Smart City applications like smart metering, smart lighting, industrial IoT, home and building, security solutions, logistics and asset tracking and connected workers solutions.

Arun Khazanchi, Director and Promoter of CHIPWIRE talks to EFY bureau about the IoT technologies, market and deployment in India, government’s role, CHIPWIRE’s unique solutions in IoT space and a lot more.

Excerpts:

Q. In your opinion, which are the top 3 technologies that are shaping the future of IoT? How are they influencing the future of IoT?

Arun Khazanchi, Director and Promoter, CHIPWIRE

There will be many, but the most significant technologies will cover areas of connectivity, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain as well as devices/platforms in the world of Internet of Things (IoT).

Connectivity being the backbone of IoT, the expectations would be for low cost, long/short range and low power technologies, which can operate under huge device density and bandwidth, particularly in the Indian conditions. The most significant technologies are likely to be narrowband (NB)-IoT, low-power wide-area (LPWA), LoRa, Sigfox, WI-SUN and Bluetooth.

While NB-IoT will dominate, a mix of the above will adequately meet the expectations. Thereby, a trade will have to be made on commercial as well as performance front.

The next big technology will be AI/ML to make sense of all the data generated for the goal of productivity, efficiency, and as a decision support system. This is going to change the entire world. Combined with AI, another big tech thing in this area will be blockchain. I believe no platform/software will be complete without AI/ML, besides the ability to manage complex data with security.

Finally, the key to success and adoption of IoT technologies will depend on the development of the ecosystem around it, with regards to the sensors and devices. The applications of IoT is shaped by what sensors and devices can sense. We are already seeing an explosion of sensors development. However, the winner in my view will be the combination of technologies that are topped up with long battery life and low cost.

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?

Earlier, some of the skepticism was driven by the fact that there were no real applications of IoT seen at the level of end consumer. The buzzword and hype philosophy are over now and there is a full action around IoT around the globe. It has already started transforming businesses. I am very clear that it is here to stay and change the way all of us think and act in a transformational way.

Q. In your opinion, is the Government of India (GoI) playing any significant role in expanding the IoT market? What are your expectations from the GoI in terms of the initiatives they should take to make India an IoT-super power?

The IoT industry is the key driver in India due to the initiatives taken by the government in the form of Digital India Program, which aims at ‘transforming India into digitally empowered society and knowledge economy’. As per NASSCOM, the number of IoT devices in India is expected to increase significantly from 200 million units in 2016 to 2.7 billion units by 2020. NASSCOM also claims that the adoption of these devices will make India a leader in the space. The IoT market in the country is poised to reach US$ 15 billion by 2020, accounting for 5 per cent of the global industry.

In recent past, startups have played a crucial role in the IoT domain. It is visible in the smart city projects, majorly in smart energy/metering projects, where we have seen RFPs for over 50 million devices released for tendering. Having said this, while GoI has the will, it must do much more on the ground in terms of execution of projects to make India a leader in this arena. Recent media reports indicate that India is much behind the US and China in the run for AI, so there’s a lot to catch up. While the intent of government is visible in large scale deployment of projects, much is still desired in prompt execution of those projects.

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

The IoT market is already witnessing an exponential growth. Almost every industry and vertical is trying to understand how best they can capitalise on the advantages that IoT offers. According to a research, one in five firms globally have already adopted IoT and many are planning to deploy it soon. There are people experimenting with new business models that would help improve their profitability. Many DEMO/POC requests come out almost every day to explore areas where IoT could benefit their company.

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

Almost all verticals will boom and find a place for IoT products. In my view, the major segments are logistics, utilities, energy and water, followed by home and buildings, and retail. Other segments like agriculture, manufacturing and industry will also contribute in a big way in future.

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

Both have their own challenges. The concept of IoT has to be sold and the user wants to experience its benefits. Most customers today are at the stage of POC/DEMO. So, it does mean that a lot of investment is happening into marketing and customer acquisition. On the other front, there are challenges to get the talented firmware/embed engineers as India is still dependent on hi-tech products from rest of the world. However, this will change in the future.

Q. What fraction of your overall business is the IoT-related business? How do you see your IoT-related business growing in the next 2-3 years?

We are a pure play IoT company, so all our revenue is from IoT products, solutions and services. We will soon be on a rapid growth path as our products get tested and accepted by the customers.

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

All our products are developed ground up and are based on extensive research and development (R&D), and we would like to continue to invest into a similar strategy. In the end, the winner will be the one who serves and solves customer’s real-life problems and I think we are on top of it. We don’t make any product without keeping voice of customers in our design philosophy. Ideally speaking, we don’t have competitors. I don’t see our strategy changing in the future also. Let me state that the market of IoT is so big that there’s enough space for everyone who enters this domain.

Q. Any innovative strategy being planned or implemented by your team to create demand for your solutions amongst customers or channel partners?

Majority of our customers today are in Europe and South America. Our focus is on cutting-edge products with long battery life, without compromising on communication SLAs. We expect to address Indian market needs in the coming year.

Q. Who is the key decision maker for you–the technology decision maker or the business decision maker?

Both are equally important. As I have said, we need to solve real customer problems with the most appropriate technology and with a sustainable pricing structure.

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?

Under the Smart Cities Program, there are many real deployments related to parking, waste management, utilities, smart buses, street lights and CCTV management. All these are based on the philosophy of IoT and the power of edge computing and cloud services. The largest, I think, is in the domain of smart metering.

An important news which is now all over in the media is that all the big telcos in India are in the process of setting up narrow band network pan India. We can expect real boom in IoT solutions in the next 2-3 years.

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