The IoT market size currently stands at a whopping USD 177 Billion and is expected to grow at an exponential CAGR of 21%, and touch a massive USD 460 Billion in 2024. With the size of the IoT market evident from the above numbers, what are the various use cases that IoT solves for? What are the various challenges that entail when it comes to wide-scale IoT implementation? What is the India advantage in the whole scheme of things?
The following panel discussion by the experts Geetha Adinarayan, Chief Architect, IBM TRIRIGA Building Insights, Joy R Cheruvathoor, Business Head and Co-Founder, GenRev Global, Sunil Venugopalan, Director – Engineering, Honeywell Building Technologies (HBT) moderated by Vaibhav Gupta, Engagement Manager, Zinnov, on unleashing the true value of IoT, at Zinnov Confluence 2019, India Edition, answers all of those questions.
Vaibhav: What is the value-add that IoT implementation brings to an organization?
Joy: The definition of value is subjective in both a generic context and also with respect to IoT implementation.
There are three primary areas of benefit as far as IoT is concerned. They are:
• Augmentation of product value:
For example, Bangalore becomes a smart city through IoT. In this case, Bangalore is the product, and the product becomes smarter and better through IoT.
• Improvement of processes:
For example, cutting down the time taken for production or enhancing process efficiency through IoT.
• Improvement of customer experience:
For example, in an electric car firm, we were working on a connected car project. IoT enabled us to inform the customer that there was an issue with her car battery and that she could bring the car for service and have the issue sorted. This is a case of enhancement of customer experience through IoT.
These are the three areas where I see IoT adding value.
Vaibhav: Can you share some stories of your customers and how you were able to leverage the IoT platform and drive meaningful outcomes?
Sunil: Yes. One example is that of the Honeywell Forge platform, which is a performance management platform and brings together infrastructure and data through connectivity, in commercial buildings. This platform analyzes the data from various sources like the lighting systems, climate control systems, fire systems, security systems, etc., does predictive modeling & analytics, and gives the information to the facility on possibilities of failure, enabling the prevention of failures and enhancement of operational efficiency. This platform is for the facility manager.
Another example would be that of a vector app that helps the occupants of a building navigate through it. We have a digital concierge that helps in booking conference rooms. These are a few examples of the various use cases that we solve for, involving the integration of data from multiple sources in a building.
Then we have an aircraft as an example. A half an hour to one-hour flight generates .5 TB of data. With good bandwidth and connectivity, this data can be communicated to the maintenance crew for them to plan the repair and maintenance better; the climate data can be used by pilots to alter routes based on it.
Similarly, in the supply chain industry, IoT enables tracking of goods, and gives information to the customer in case of variants in the data during the transit, like ambient conditions. This prevents spoilage of sensitive goods like fruits, vegetables, or medicines that need to be transported in certain ambient conditions.
Also, in the refinery industry, we are bringing together sensitive materials like acids, and processes and people; through predictive modeling, we are able to significantly contribute to preventive maintenance.
These are examples of how we have leveraged IoT to deliver value to our customers.
Vaibhav: The build vs. buy decision process is a critical step in technology implementation. Why do you think customers should buy an IoT platform instead of building their own platforms?
Geetha: The value of IoT primarily depends on whose life the technology is bettering. In the facility management example, the data helps the energy manager who works on targets to reduce the energy consumption of the facility. When it comes to solving the challenges of the customers, IoT provides value by seeing the unseen, eliminating the need to manually monitor the abundant data that is generated. When you consider building your own platform, pool in data, generate a dashboard, and cull out insights, the approach might work when the data is limited – say, for example, the data generated is from one building with two floors. But with scale, say a thousand buildings, you might end up running an IT shop instead of generating meaningful insights.
Therefore, by not just looking at the functional aspect of things and by carefully considering factors like long term sustenance, ROI, meaningful business outcomes, the customers must decide on building/buying a platform.
Vaibhav: Wide-scale IoT implementation requires not just one company but the coming together of multiple entities/experts/players. How do you orchestrate the ecosystem successfully?
Joy: Let me give an example of a smart city which is a huge project that requires the coming together of multiple experts. When a project of this scale is envisioned, there is usually a consultant. The consultant designs the smart city, they create the RFP (Request for proposal) and so on. At this juncture, if you plan your timelines well as to at which point of the project does each player come in, then you have a fairly good chance of coming up with a well-integrated IoT narrative.
Initially, I used to work for big corporates but now I work with start-ups. I have a contrary view in terms of the build vs. buy conundrum. IoT is a smart platform without a doubt. But at the heart of the system, it has six or seven simple components – a rule engine, a gateway, authentication/authorization engine, Message Broker, a Device directory, and maybe a digital twin for each device out there. If you put these components together, you have a working IoT platform.
So my advice to start-ups is that, when you don’t have to exercise too much control over your IoT systems, when your industry is such that there is not much regulatory pressure that requires producing certain reports or being compliant with new rules, go ahead and buy an IoT platform.
But when the industry you operate in is such that you need to have better control over your platform, then it is a better idea to build your own platform.
There are three constraints that come into play in the build vs. buy scenario – Time, cost, and scale.
Time: The time that you are going to take to build a platform is as much as the time that is taken to learn to use a platform that you have bought.
Cost: When you are buying a platform, the cost is linear; with every additional sensor, there is an added cost. But while building your own platform, though there is an upfront cost, it might work out to be cheaper in the long run.
Scale: If it is a huge project like a smart city, you will need a project manager to manage the various components. If you are a small start-up, building your own platform is better.
Vaibhav: People in sales face a major challenge when it comes to getting buy-in from senior management and getting people from different generations to believe in digital technologies. So, how does organizational DNA come into play when it comes to wide-scale IoT implementation?
Sunil: The buyer segment matters when it comes to digital transformation. When I tried to sell our software to a facility manager, it was difficult for him to comprehend that the box that I was trying to sell was a mini-computer with a software, and found it hard to associate Honeywell with software because it was contradicting his conviction that only Microsoft sells software. When I was trying to sell a solution that required putting the building data on the cloud, the banker rejected it right away saying, putting the building data on the cloud means going through multiple approvals; whereas, in reality, all the banking customer data is on the cloud. So, the challenges are primarily related to the kind of buyer segment that we are trying to sell the IoT solution to.
Vaibhav: Joy, you have worked with the government which is an extremely different buyer segment. So, what is your take on the factors that come into play in IoT implementation?
Joy: In the case of both private enterprises and the government, any decision-making that involves IoT, involves multiple departments. IoT performs best when it is implemented between silos. For example, in the US there is usage-based car insurance where the insurance premium is decided on the basis of data like distance traveled in the car, panic braking, etc. This involves two industries – the automotive industry and the insurance industry.
With respect to government projects like smart cities, I can quote an example where the tender said the camera installed should use edge analytics and do ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and also check if the dust bins on the roads are full. This requires the coming together of three departments – the Traffic Police, the BBMP (municipal corporation), BWSSB (Water supply and sewerage board).
So, for an IoT solution to be implemented, it has to be pitched to someone higher up the order who as an overview of the problem statement and has the capability to bring the stakeholders to the table and make them agree on sharing their data.
Vaibhav: The Chinese have excelled in process/memory-oriented innovation. Silicon Valley takes pride in breakthrough innovation. What do you think is India’s advantage?
Geetha: Our strength is system integration. Culturally, we are good at building relationships. We understand user requirements, map it to the requisite competencies/services, package it, and present a solution to the user.
Joy: We are a densely populated country. The heterogeneity that the country presents for organizations to leverage, is one advantage we offer as a country. This is why MNCs are eager to work in India even if it means deep discounts and incurring a loss. If a solution works in ten smart cities in India, it can be implemented anywhere across the globe, with the confidence that it has been tested under a variety of conditions.
Sunil: Integration of multiple, disparate systems is definitely India’s strength. The challenge, however, is to scale and do it at a low cost.
With the presence of various indigenous Global System Integrator (GSI) giants, the Global Centers of Excellence (GCoEs) of various Multinational corporations, and being the world’s third-largest start-up ecosystem, India is showing great promise in the field of technology and is exhibiting immense potential in the IoT space as well.
With new use cases and applications of IoT across industry verticals and businesses, it is a phenomenon that is changing the course of growth of Enterprises. This clearly justifies the accelerated adoption of IoT and also implies the need for a robust implementation strategy for organizations to unlock the true value of IoT.