Where is Your Slice of the 19 Trillion Dollar IoT Pie?

By Bibhuti Kar, Sr Director, Engineering (Security Technologies), Cisco

Although the phrase “Internet of Things” is in use since 1980s, the viral proliferation of the technology is happening now. Riding on cheaper compute & memory, decreasing footprint, and pervasive connectivity, the technology  that stayed mostly in form of ‘cyber physical systems’ in factory floors up until 2010, is now invading the common human space.

A recent study by Cisco looked at 61 use cases that are suitable to adopt IoT for various reasons.

These 61 use cases aggregate a TAM of 19 Trillion USD by 2022 with 50 Bil­lion devices inter connected.

21 of the 61 use cases are from pub­lic sector contributing 4.6T USD op­portunity. These use cases are in smart cities, government agencies, healthcare, education and defense. The key motiva­tion for the public sector to adopt IoT is increased revenue, reduced cost, citizen experience, connected military and em­ployee productivity.

Rest 40 of the use cases are from the private sector that contribute 14.4T USD to the addressable opportuni­ty, across industrial and horizontal use cases. Again, the key motivations being customer experience, automated supply chain, asset tracking and utilization and employee productivity.

These numbers are staggering and clearly everyone wants a slice of the big pie.

Through my day job at Cisco, re­search partnership with academics weekend job as advisor to a few startups, and speaking at and attending various conferences across India, I have come across this common question from many –

Where do we start? Where is my slice of IoT op­portunity?

I am attempting to address this question for dif­ferent establishments in Indian context.

A Tech Start Up in India

As a start-up, it is critical to come to a saleable product as soon as possible. And what differ­entiates a successful startup from the others, is a “simple” product/service solving “one” prob­lem. Time to market is the most critical aspect and generating a positive cash flow is key to survivability.

So if you are an aspiring start up starting up with friends and family fund, isolate ONE problem from Industrial / Vertical segment for which the department heads are budgeting money, that they would like to optimize. Hire the subject matter expert before hiring the soft­ware programmers. Do not get embroiled in in­finite debate of which technology to use. There are just too many to confuse in this space. Pick the one right for the use case at hand and solve it. The only way to test the prod­uct is to launch it. If it picks up, you get time and fund to set your technology right to scale it and make it usable for more use cases.

A great example of such a successful startup is Vigyan Labs, that has more than 3 mil­lion devices in its energy man­agement system and in a state to fund its own growth and inno­vation.

IT/ITeS company in India

IT/ITeS segment has come to a very matured stage in India and amassed a lot of domain specif­ic knowledge. When it comes to IoT, Industrial use cases and verticals are spending bulk of their budget on automation. IT/ITeS companies can focus on converting client specific legacy Brownfield systems to open scalable, usable systems, connect OT (Operational Tech­nology) to IT (Information Technology).

The larger companies with stronger bench should focus on creating vertical specific proven framework using appropriate technologies. For example, an ITeS company that has deep knowledge in healthcare be­cause of years of consulting in that space, can come up with an HIPPA certified IoT automa­tion Stack (Sensor to Analytics) for healthcare sector.

Computer Tech / Product com­pany

Large product companies that produce products for internet, should focus on ruggedizing the products to adopt to use cases. IoT usecases cannot all be set in perfectly dust free, tempera­ture controlled environment with uninterrupted power sup­ply. Ruggedizing sounds like mundane work, however this is where IoT devices need to fo­cus first. And building resilient products is not just a hardware task, even the communication protocols and software need to be much more resilient. There needs to be a significant amount of focus on bringing down the foot print (physical, memory and power) of the products. Last but not the least, the tra­ditional device and network management systems will need multifold scale up lift and hugely scaled certificate management systems to secure the millions of devices.

Academics

So many technologies are con­fusing the landscape, fragment­ing the talent pool, and hin­dering multi-vendor and open implementations to benefit business. Academics working with interest groups and large players in the industry should focus on bringing standardiza­tion tothis fragmented technol­ogy landscape.

Other key area of research stems from the need to provide privacy in the world of sensors. So much of personal data (lo­cation, phone number, identity and behavioral information) is being collected, churned and used as we move rapidly towards complete digitization. At least a fraction of research funds should start flowing in to privacy.

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