Industrial IoT to Witness Major Growth in Next 2-3 Years

0
621
Advertisement

Aikaan Labs Pvt Ltd is a Bangalore-based IoT company serving System integrators, Enterprises and Gateway manufacturers in Industry 4.0 and Smart Cities segment. Aikaan’s software edge controller helps operate, control, orchestrate and manage IoT edge and fog networks.

In a conversation with Electronicsforu, Chetan Kumar, CEO, Aikaan Labs, talks about the current business trends of the IoT industry, explains how the Government of India can help boost the IoT growth in India, shares some successful IoT cases 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?

Chetan Kumar, CEO, Aikaan Labs.

A. Well, in my opinion, Digital Transformation is opening an entirely new market and IoT is the technology to achieve it. IoT to digital transformation is like the Internet for E-Commerce and it is going to change the way business is done, the way we live, the way our environment is protected, the way sustainable cities are built, and much more. This is no hype, this is real, and we are all prepared to ride on this.

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

A. The government definitely plays some role in expanding the IoT market, but it is not significant. Different departments of the government are working on policies and frameworks. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has a draft IoT policy and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is formalising machine to machine (M2M) regulation.

Advertisement

The government is also encouraging ecosystems via IoT, Centres of Excellence, through various industry consortiums. These are far from what is needed at ground zero.

Another major area that GoI must play is triggering the IoT economy via public business initiatives. The smart city could have been one such trigger but in my opinion, this did not realise the expected outcome.

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

A. The government definitely plays some role in expanding the IoT market, but it is not significant. Different departments of the government are working on policies and frameworks. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has a draft IoT policy and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is formalising machine to machine (M2M) regulation.

The government is also encouraging ecosystems via IoT, Centres of Excellence, through various industry consortiums. These are far from what is needed at ground zero.

Another major area that GoI must play is triggering the IoT economy via public business initiatives. The smart city could have been one such trigger but in my opinion, this did not realise the expected outcome.

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

A. I always believe that the government should not get into the business of doing business. The governments must define policies that are beneficial to both small and big enterprises. They must ensure to reduce the divide, both in economy and technology. That is how a sustainable society can be built.

GOI must help in defining the interoperability standards. Today, most of the IoT technology is fragmented and proprietary, making it difficult for new vendors to enter the market. Standardisation will break this, so that any vendor, big or small can offer solutions. The customers will not get stuck with single vendors, stopping potential monopoly. For instance, in smart cities, the IoT solutions do not have a standard service catalog, data exchange standard authentication and authorisation mechanism.

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

A. No, I am not satisfied with the state of India when it comes to IoT solutions. Here, the opportunities are very high and the adoption rate is moderate to less. There is a significant growth potential in the business. In a country like India, where scale plays a significant role in everything, IoT solutions do have a bigger role. If we look at the global market vis-à-vis the Indian market, we are lagging a bit. However, it is to be noted that the global market is also not what it could have been. Overall, I would say 3/4 of the IoT deployments fail.

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

A. In terms of market, the Indian IoT market will be between 5 to 7 per cent of global, reaching up to $15 to 20 billion in the next three years. I think industrial IoT (IIoT) will show major growth while consumer IoT will continue to be fragmented.

The Indian customer is still not ready to go premium for consumer products which are connected to the Internet unless the vendors provide a base price. I feel manufacturing and enterprise solutions will be the major growth sectors. Transport and logistics, services, consumer and Agriculture IoT will follow the same order.

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

A. The manufacturing segments, both discrete and mass, will be driving the larger chunk of demand. Value realisation due to IoT is direct and immediate in the manufacturing segments.

Enterprise will be the next segment, followed by transport and logistics, services, consumer and Agri IoT.

Q. Is the edge computing another buzzword or does it really mean business?

A. Edge or Fog computing (though edge and fog are technically different, we can bracket these into one business solution) is definitely a buzzword today. But it is no fad for the following reasons –

  1. IoT means processing data from things and the need to process the data real-time is increasing day by day and becoming an industry standard in this evolving world.
  2. The operational technician is not very comfortable in throwing the data out of the premise into the cloud. Retaining the data is more secure and you have a better control over it.
  3. With more and more data points to be used for better decision making, bandwidth becomes a challenge, both in cost and management. Processing the data locally at the edge solves this.

Q. How do you see Edge computing adoption in India and World?

A. Health care and utilities are big adopters of edge worldwide. Of course, the big adopters will be IIoT and manufacturing. However, this is yet to pick up. In India, we do see a reasonable adaptation of edge computing, but we are just scratching the surface of the opportunity.

Q. What are the challenges in adopting Edge computing for IoT?

A. The business challenge is identifying the Returns on Investments (ROI) and this is the same challenge for the overall IoT solution. The ROI can be direct increased revenue with decreasing bottom-line or indirect one with increasing customer satisfaction, increasing operational efficiency of employees, better and safer workplace for employee and so on.

The solutions provider must identify the gap in customers operations and make a value proposition with clear measurable results. The technical challenges may be different for Edge computing IoT solutions and cloud computing IoT solutions.

For edge computing model to be successful, one needs to choose the right technical partner. There are products that can help you control, manage and operate Edge computing infrastructure. The solutions can help you ensure maximum uptime, optimal operational costs and highest security.

Q. What is your bigger challenge – acquiring customers or acquiring talent? What is your strategy to resolve the same?

A. Both are equally challenging. Acquiring talent requires an environment of trust, growth, and opportunity. Acquiring customers mean the organization being trustworthy, growing and adding business values.

The strategy is to satisfy these requirements. We are building an organisation based on trust. We believe in growth and disruption, which is helping us to attract young talent, who, in turn, help us add customers and grow business.

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

A. Fifty per cent of our revenue is attributed to IoT-related business and the remaining is attributed to Edge and Fog networks. However, for us, the line between Edge and Fog and IoT is very thin.

Q. How do you see your IoT business growing in the next 2-3 years both in terms of revenue and as a fraction of your overall revenues?

A. Currently, we are at a breaking point. We expect that our revenue will increase to 150 to 170 per cent in the next 2-3 years, and almost all these will be IoT-related.

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

A. We have built our solutions considering the geographically distributed, edge and fog IoT deployments. Remote connectivity, autonomous operations and ease of debuggability are the key differentiators. We have come up with solutions after reviewing the requirements and profile OT (Operation Technicians) and IT (Information Technicians) teams. The ease of use is a bonus point for us.

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

A. Our solutions help our customers to reduce operational cost and increase reliability. One of the primary deterrents for the adoption of the solutions in general and ours, in particular, is the cost.

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 the types of decision makers?

A. The decision makers are Chief Information Officers/Chief Operating Officer (CIO/COO) and engineering leads, who use the solutions. Typically, they provide us with their problems and then we start our conversation with them. We understand the pain areas and then move to the engineering leads. They, in turn, provide feedback on technical viability and utility of our solutions.

However, balancing interest is quite critical. The CIO/COO will be keen on understanding the value proposition. They evaluate us on the cost benefits and how we help them reduce the bottom line.  Our solutions address both these requirements.

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

A. We have the following few cases that were successful and made an impact –

  1. Smart surveillance based on video analytics. Most of the current surveillance solutions just dump the camera output on a screen and human visions analyse the video to detect various events, including traffic violation, intrusion, abnormal behaviour and theft among others. A smart surveillance uses computer vision to detect these events, removing the mundane job of staring at the camera. We have helped smart surveillance vendors to control, monitor, manage, connect, upgrade and automate their systems. A combination of high efficacy algorithms and an efficiently managed solution was a killer success.
  2. Industrial boiler monitoring and optimizing. The amount of cost saving and reduction in carbon footprint with an optimized operation of boilers and freezers can be huge. One could see a direct benefit from operating costs.

Operational efficiency can be achieved with data acquisition and analysis, followed by optimized controls. We have helped vendors by increasing the data acquisition reliability. We were also able to reduce the downtime significantly with the help of our machine assisted algorithms.

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

A. I would say that our product makes IoT solutions, reliable, predictable and secure. Bringing in the digital transformation into your business is just the start of the journey.  Making this transformation sustainable, and making transformation payback, directly or indirectly is the actual journey. We will be with the customer on this journey.

Q. What is unique about your solution or your firm for them to opt for it?

A. We believe, in augmented intelligence. We help operation technicians and information technicians with the right sights to solve the problems. We believe in powerful yet simple solutions that are intuitive. The technicians do not need prior training to use our solutions and we do not have many competitors here in India.

Anumita Das

Advertisement

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS & COMMENTS

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here