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IoT: Industries bet big on the power of connectivity

By Srinath Srinivasan

Internet of Things (IoT) is a buzzword in tech circles today due to its ability to lend itself to a wide range of applications smart homes, connected cars, wearables, etc. Every year, April 9 is observed as IoT Day. Mark Weiser, chief scientist at Xerox PARC in the 1980s, pioneered the technology. Then Weiser had said, The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.

True to his statement, today IoT exists behind many applications without actually showing itself, thanks to thousands of sensors which gather data which is processed at the backend, enabled by the cloud.

Some of the biggest tech corporations in the world are investing in IoT as part of their digital transformation portfolio. For instance, Microsoft recently announced a global investment of $5 billion in IoT over the next four years. Microsoft has positioned its IoT offerings to include what it believes as necessary for businesses to get started in IoT- operating systems for devices, cloud services to control and secure them, advanced analytics to gain insights, and business applications to enable intelligent action. Virendra Chaudhari, Intelligent Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) Global Black Belt, Microsoft, says, Indian organisations are realising the business value brought in by IoT, with heightened awareness and aggressive plans to deploy an IoT solution.

Connected products, people and things produce terabytes of data every day that manufacturers can access and extract deep insights to optimise business and manufacturing processes. Insight from this data helps manufacturers identify new revenue streams. In healthcare, IoT has the potential to save lives. In hospitals, IoT biometric devices can monitor vital signs allowing health professionals to oversee an entire ward via a tablet screen. And then there is this the notion of connected hospitals and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).

For a heavy engineering and technological innovations company such as General Electric (GE), IoT is realised via Digital Twins the integration of the physical (sensors and machines) with digital which leads to digital assets that learn and predict better outcome. Vinay Jammu, technology leader, Physical-Digital Analytics & Software, GE Global Research, says, Industrial IoT is about productivity. It s about using digital to make our own factories, our manufacturing, engineering and business processes more productive using data, analytics and insights.

Startups are also working with IoT. According to Nasscom, the IoT market in India is growing at a rapid pace and its adoption is expected to increase by 28% CAGR by 2020. It is estimated that the industrial IoT opportunity will surpass consumer internet by 2020. But all this growth comes with two big challenges security and culture.

Kiran Zachariah, VP- IoT Business Solutions, Subex, an IoT security provider, says, IoT projects that pay adequate attention to cybersecurity, can assure higher levels of privacy and trust to stakeholders.

Chaudhari says the biggest challenge in implementing IoT in India is getting people to adapt to digital transformation. It is not a technology deployment or an IT exercise, it s a people exercise, he says. With more centres of excellence, accelerator programmes and R&D centres coming up in tech hubs like Bengaluru, IoT promises to be the technology that will revolutionise digital transformation for large enterprises and startups.