India poised to lead IoT adoption

In a joint report?The rise of the Connected World?by Deloitte and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Indian manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, utility companies, retailers, renewables energy and supply chain providers are making significant investments in the Internet of Things (IoT) to achieve operational efficiencies, reduce cost, improve security and monitor machineries for predictive maintenance and asset utilization. The report, which examines current adoption in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, also points out challenging areas and defines new revenue areas for Indian players to ride the wave of IoT adoption.

Technology has been a key enabler to overcome the economic disruption due to COVID-19 pandemic. As an emerging technology, IoT has received a boost amongst early adopters as businesses battle to save costs with better forecasting and streamlining operations to manage operations on skeletal manpower to reduce exposure to the virus.

The report draws heavily from ongoing research at Deloitte which surveyed more than 2,000 executives across sectors globally and found that IoT figures at the top of Industry 4.0 technologies with 72% respondents confirming it as the most impactful for business. A recent IoT industry spending report reveals that Asia Pacific accounted for most of the IoT spending in 2019, with India IoT spending at USD 20.6 billion.

Examples abound of rapid IoT adoption across sectors in India. For example, the power sector is adopting IoT at the sub-station level to better predict demand while the power ministry is driving an initiative to deploy smart meters to predict load at the consumer level and deliver innovative services to consumers. Specialty chemicals are looking at solutions to connect with the global supply chain through planning integration and demand sensing. The agriculture sector is looking at deploying IoT sensors to collect and transmit data to aid the development of advanced techniques in precision agriculture and avoid wasteful consumption of water, fuel, soil additives while limiting the use of pesticides and fertilizers.

The report points out that proactive government policies have been a key driver boosting IoT adoption by creating opportunities with initiatives, such as smart cities and Digital India. IoT deployments in citizen services ranged from smart parking facilities, smart lighting, waste management, urban lighting, intelligent transport system to healthcare, banking and electoral services based on a unified identity system. 

The National Digital Communication Policy 2018 aimed to expand the IoT ecosystem to 50 billion connected devices by 2022. Towards that, the Government has adopted specific measures under Skill India to train and reskill manpower base, collaborated with industry to develop standards, work with start-ups and built the foundation to set the pace for IoT growth in the country.

Yet the segment has been held back due to conditions specific to the sector which must be addressed to fully exploit the benefits. This includes lack of interoperability amongst systems; shortage of talent to implement and maintain IoT ecosystem; IoT implementations lacking strategic vision to showcase benefits and justify ROI; and sluggish investment in 5G by operators which is ideally suited to meet with connectivity issues will likely impede IoT implementations.

Notwithstanding the challenges, IoT presents revenue opportunities in the form of capturing and providing data to facilitate the designing of algorithms for achieve specific business objectives; information to enable actionable insights; full-featured self-service technology platforms for IoT adoption and by providing technical expertise, asset management services and IoT products for businesses.

In the wake of COVID-19, companies in India are expected to rely heavily on IoT to respond, recover and thrive in the post-COVID scenario. Typically, companies that invest in technologies during a downturn are better placed to take advantage of opportunities when the economy begins to look up. These efforts must be aided and abetted by a robust ecosystem of suppliers and service providers to support and co-create IoT solutions that are built on a strong foundation of technology with built-in data security and privacy.

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