There's No Stopping The IoT Growth; Here's Why

Around 8.4 billion connected things would be in use worldwide in 2017, up from 31 per cent in 2016, and poised to reach 20.4 billion by the year 2020, says IT research firm Gartner. It also says that total spending on endpoints as well as services would reach $2 trillion in 2017. There is a boom predicted in the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Let’s figure out how enterprises are faring with respect to digital transformative technologies such as IoT.

Manufacturing industry experimenting with IoT technologies

IoT

There are a number of factors involved in such new-tech implementation scenarios in manufacturing industries such as suppliers, vendors, partners, adaptability, return on investment (RoI), revenues, and bottom line generation. The technology is capital intensive and any company planning to implement it would want to know the tangible results that would come out of such an adoption.

We are planning to implement IoT technology in several facets, particularly for the assembly line. However, discussions are in a nascent stage and I would not like to divulge information.  I estimate this kind of digitalization would result in improved mobility (mobile device friendly), data monetization, payback, increased efficiency and revenues, together with reduced bottom lines. I think that there could be substantial improvement in efficiency, around 15–20%, along with a 10–15% increase in productivity. Right now, I can only say that trials are ongoing,” said Parna Ghosh, chief information officer (CIO) of UNO Minda, a manufacturing sector conglomerate, which is reportedly experimenting with the technology.

Applications of IoT in the industry

There are three aspects to it. The first is related to products and technology, in which new products are invented, for example, replacing mechanical switches. The second is process-related, like manufacturing, dispatch, etc. The third is the Inspection and Test Plans (ITP), where software robotics, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, etc. can find use.

“IoT technologies aid programs to run automatically, with increased access, efficiency, and reduced human involvement. IoT technologies can be helpful in data churning, testing, as well as maintenance. If properly backed by predictive analytics, this could result in crisis response together with preventive management in situations like breakdowns and technical snags,” said Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera.

20–30 billion devices connected to Internet by 2020: Are the estimates too optimistic?

With predictions that around 20 to 30 billion devices could be connected to the Internet by 2020, the industry is abuzz.

“Although we are working with new technology partners based in Hyderabad, most of such cutting-edge innovation is happening in USA and Germany. In India, there are aggregators largely, who are not inventing anything. I don’t see a lot of activity in the manufacturing sector. However, consumer product industries such as appliances and automobiles like fridge, TV, etc. could witness investments. I don’t see a lot of activity in the processes, although I see a lot of potential there. Internationally, the USA and German companies are innovating fast, almost at the rate of 15–20% every year. In such a scenario, Indian companies could co-innovate, resulting in a 5–10% expansion,” adds Parna Ghosh.

Security concerns with IoT and connected appliances

There have been concerns about data security and malfunctioning which is making some enterprises jittery about implementing the new technology.

“I believe security concerns should go away over some period of time. I will give the example of cloud computing technology. There were a few concerns about data security initially. However, now the whole world is witnessing the boom. Two things have happened as the technology has matured: data concerns stand resolved due to technological advancement; second, data security is not that big a concern as long as the technology is cheaper and efficient than on premise systems. In a similar fashion, the IoT would also mature and there will be less talk of data security issues,” added Shashank Dixit.

Long term impact of IoT and connected devices

According to most industry pundits, the impact of IoT on industry will certainly be most disruptive and could result in massive upheavals. For instance, companies may start deploying IoT-enable robots to replace people. Currently, hi-tech robots and sensors are expensive but over time they could become affordable, leading to large-scale changes. This would also have social ramifications. Factory floor human jobs could go out of fashion. However, it is too early to predict. In these are times of digital disruptions, one is never really sure of what the future holds.

[The author is a tech evangelist, environmentalist, women's rights advocate, editor, columnist and founder of www.greenubuntu.com]