IoT will take internet, smart devices and systems of today much beyond its conventional realm, by integrating advanced technologies such as sensors, artificial intelligence, robotics and analytics. These devices and systems will start communicating to each other in the background and provide us with highly personalized choices and timely solutions.
IoT is already happening and redefining the way we lead our lives. The combination of smart devices, sensors, cloud computing, cloud storage, huge bandwidth, sophisticated analytics software will help enterprises to manage themselves better and offer greater products, solutions and services to their customers.
So, the opportunity is here, and it is real and huge. Analyst firm Gartner expects as many 26 billion smart units (smartphones, TVs, tablets, sensors, motion sensors, and other smart devices like connected cars and wearables – smart watch etc.) to be connected through the IoT. The IoT products and services are expected to generate $300 billion in revenues and create $1.9 trillion in value as shown in the figure below.
India and India based companies have missed on participating in the previous information technology waves of mainframes, mini-computers, Desktop PCs, Mobile Laptop PCs, and smart phones while countries like USA, South Korea and China have taken full advantage of these waves.
India cannot afford to miss this IoT wave which is essential to the future of the country. It is and must be treated as a national security issue. Over the last two decades, India has been able to make inroads into IT and Engineering services. But, this is the time for India to focus on hardware and software “products” in addition to services and manufacturing. There will be tremendous opportunities to innovate from components to devices to systems to data centres to software analytics to services.
The first wave of internet with PCs created companies like Google, Yahoo, and Amazon etc and gave growth opportunities to companies like Intel, IBM, Dell, and Microsoft etc. The second wave of internet with smartphones created companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Xiaomi etc and gave growth opportunities to companies like Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Mediatek etc. The next wave, the IoT wave is an opportunity to create new companies and global brands as well growth opportunities for existing companies and brands.
To participate and succeed in IoT, India Inc., needs to innovate. Product level innovation and ecosystem is the key for success. That means India must first address the lack of innovation infrastructure i.e. societal appreciation for entrepreneurship, access to risk capital, conducive government policies and marketability. As such, government must device policies to encourage product companies, not just manufacturing companies.
Make in India shouldn’t be just about manufacturing but should also be about making products. Over the last 15-20 years, while India focused on “services”, China though started with “manufacturing” but extended its focus to building actual products. It is time for India to take advantage of IoT wave and add both manufacturing and product capabilities in addition to services.
In order to ensure IoT is effective in India, we need a strong collaboration and coordination between government and the industry to provide IoT products, solutions and services without compromising privacy, security and safety of people.
Written by Mahesh Lingareddy. He co-founded Soft Machines and serves as its Chief Executive Officer.
(Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author.)