India begins to plan its move into IoT

A look at how India is tackling the Internet of Things

One of the fastest growing economies in the world, India has set its sights on transforming itself into a digital powerhouse by ‘digitally empowering’ a range of industries from housing to healthcare, agriculture and energy generation.

According to TechSci Research, the Internet of Things (IoT) market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28 per cent between 2015 and 2020. Analyst firm Gartner has stated the global IoT industry will be worth US$300bn by 2020, with a survey by the National Association of Software Services Companies (NASSCOM) projecting that India will capture approximately five per cent of this market by this time; worth US$15bn.

Aiming high, there is still a long way to go as many Indian companies are only in the early stages of understanding the impact IoT can have on their businesses. But they are beginning to ask the right questions.

“Over the past 12 months, a few Indian enterprises — large and small — have moved past the stage where they wondered about how IoT was different in terms of what it could deliver compared with what they already have. They are at a stage where they are increasingly asking questions about how to start an IoT project, how to prepare a business case for IoT, which projects to consider, and what skills and capabilities are required,” says Gartner Research VP Ganesh Ramamoorthy.

Companies are beginning to understand how IoT is an enabler that can provide a great return on investment, as Dr Rishi Bhatnagar, President of Aeris Communications and Chair of the IET India IoT Panel, highlights.

“Awareness of the business potential of IoT is definitely growing,” he enthuses. “Many projects are moving from the drawing board and labs to the field. There is immense potential to be realised, especially in sectors such as healthcare, heavy machinery automation – known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – and environment management.”

Nihal Kashinath, Founder of the IoT Bangalore Network adds: “A lot of industries in India stand to benefit from IoT, in terms of efficiency gains or new products/services being offered.

“Agriculture is a prime example where yield could increase substantially while reducing costs and uncertainty if IoT solutions are deployed in the fields and green houses. Public utilities like water and electricity suffer from tremendous wastage, which could be better managed by using IoT solutions.”

Industry sectors also taking an interest in IoT in India include healthcare, building automation, transportation and manufacturing. IoT may change the way energy companies do business for example, thanks to the introduction of smart meters. Connected vehicles would help reduce traffic congestion and accidents, and IoT-enabled healthcare devices could revolutionise healthcare through improved patient monitoring and proactive health management.

Furthermore, IoT provides a significant growth opportunity for the Indian semiconductor companies who will provide components for these ‘talking’ machines.

According to Ramamoorthy, roughly 70 organisations in India are in the initial planning stages of, or currently implementing an IoT project. Approximately 20 per cent of Indian businesses have on average four to five projects underway while the rest have one or two projects ready for implementation within the next 12 months.

Organisations both large and small are now starting to make their mark on the IoT space, with large IT services companies taking on the role of system integrator and launching dedicated IoT divisions and a growth in IoT startups appearing across Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad.

These startups, such as Carenation, are leveraging telemedicine to bring specialist healthcare to more remote areas for example, ideas made possible through new business models around connected devices.

“Companies like Atoll Solutions and IGATE are developing solutions for smart lighting and telematics, with ConnectM coming up with vehicle tracking solutions and Indrion and Boss coming up with solutions for traffic monitoring – a major problem in most Indian cities,” highlights technologist and entrepreneur Rahul Lakhaney, a speaker for Amity Incubation Centres.

The Indian Government is to be doing much to drive this adoption of IoT, with an IoT policy being drafted, a commitment to invest 48,000 Crores on smart cities and the launch of several initiatives including Digital India, Make in India and Startup India.

Joint initiatives between Government and business are also paving the way towards further implementation, with last July seeing the launch of the Centre of Excellence for IoT – a joint initiative with leading businesses including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Intel.

Many industry and professional organisations are helping to push the growth of IoT in the country, as seen with creation of the IET IoT Panel, a think tank set up to evangelise IoT in India and help accelerate adoption. A who’s who of IoT sharing knowledge and best practice, the group held its first ever IoT India Congress last September.

By coming together the goal is to overcome the challenges that India faces regarding IoT adoption and growth. Factors holding many organisations back include security issues, poor broadband penetration, an immature startup ecosystem, “especially in terms of access to finding for hardware startups,” and fragmentation of standards notes Kashinath.

“This creates a complex situation for an observer, with new ones appearing every day,” says Lakhaney. “But just like the early days of the internet, over time there will a harmonisation of standards.

“There must be a single, open, secure and interoperable framework that all IoT products and services can stand upon. Since IoT is all about connected devices and a connected world, there has to be some sort of common framework which will not only help bring in a lot of community contributions but also speed up the overall implementation rate.”

T V Ramachandran, President of Broadband India Forum and an advisory member of the IET IoT India Panel stresses “India is embarking on a growth and development path using the power of the Internet or the ‘Digital Technology Route’… the use of IoT would enable Indians to live their lives more efficiently and also become more productive, thereby leading to rapid development and growth of the economy all around.”

“This is going to be a very big transformational phenomenon and we firmly believe that the ‘Internet of Things’ is expected to lead us to the ‘India of Tomorrow’,” he concludes.