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How CIOs Can Focus on IoT’s Bright Spots in Challenging Times

Adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) is still at a niche stage in India due to various challenges such as lack of clarity on what to prioritize and right talent and skills, says a new report. Technical challenges of connectivity, compatibility, interoperability, and cybersecurity are other challenges that are holding back IoT adoption in India, according to the report released by Deloitte India in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).  (Read the full report here)

Despite the various challenges, CIOs and decision makers should consider using the current time to plan and execute their IoT agenda, the study suggests.

IoT adoption: Riddled with challenges

Emphasizing that India is in the early stages of adopting IoT in India, According to Ashvin Vellody, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP, “For businesses across the globe, IoT has passed the stage of being seen only as an exploratory technology. Numerous use cases exist for most industry sectors where IoT, along with other exponential technologies, is driving operational efficiencies, newer business models, and smarter and sustainable communities.”

He believes in India however, there are some significant obstacles are hindering the adoption of IoT. The report mentions some of the key challenges that need to be addressed.

Firstly, there is a lack of clarity on the part of CIOs and decision makers on what to prioritize. CIOs are more likely to invest for the future if they are presented with fewer, not more, investment options. As capital investment is being fought over by multiple use cases, adopters of IoT are organizations that have typically followed a KPI-driven digital strategy to identify and track key IoT use cases.

Secondly, lack of vision and short-term value realization is a big challenge for this sector. As most sectors in India are not at a big scale. Hence, typical IoT conversations are transactional in nature and typically funded by individual departments. This has led to challenges in adopting the right platform and the overall RoI has not been exciting for management.

Thirdly, Lack of right talent and skills for implementing and maintaining IoT ecosystem remains another top concern with respect to navigating digital transformation. For example, 74% leaders in the study noted that they prioritize core technologies within Industry 4.0 investments for “training and developing a workforce with the skills needed to compete”.

Besides, technical challenges of connectivity, compatibility, interoperability, and cybersecurity are other key barriers to IoT adoption in India. For example, IoT needs a healthy ecosystem of vendors, OEMs, and service providers. Connections between devices and systems are a recurring challenge for implementers. Interoperability between systems is one of the major reasons contributing to failure of IoT implementation.

Likewise, traditional cybersecurity protection solutions focus on securing IoT network and cloud infrastructure. Endpoint devices should be thoroughly tested and kept updated for threat prevention.

The other challenge is that with its large bandwidth and low latency, 5G network is uniquely suited for IoT connectivity. However, investments in 5G in India have been lagging for various reasons.

“Recent announcements by leading vendors on starting 5G trials in India may lead to cheap and ubiquitous network connectivity after the network rolls out,” says Vellody.

Harnessing the power of IoT during downturn

Despite these challenges, however, the report suggests that “organizations should consider investing in technologies such as IoT during the downturn and be ready to operate”.

This is because studies have shown that companies that invest in key technological advances during downturns such as the one the world is facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic are better positioned to leapfrog competitors when economic conditions improve.

“With the proliferation of connected devices and evolving AI capabilities, the applicability of IoT is set to expand for businesses, consumers, and citizens,” says Vellody, adding that the agriculture industry is already experimenting with more efficient irrigation and soil monitoring. The healthcare and wellness industry is developing innovative applications with wearables for remote monitoring, disease prediction, and diagnosis.

He advises to watch out for unicorns in this space. “As machines become more intelligent, this technology can have a positive impact on the everyday lives of citizens,” he says.

According to Deloitte, IoT, AI, Cloud, and big data analytics are the “big four technologies” that could provide the bedrock to connect organizations, generate data, and drive more intelligent operations.

According to the latest IDC report, across the world, spending on software and hardware related to IoT is projected to grow rapidly, from $726 billion in 2019 to $1.1 trillion in 2023. The report further reveals that Asia-Pacific accounted for most of the spending on IoT in 2019, with India spending $20.6 billion.

The Deloitte report too sees these developments as the bright spots for IoT. “We see a focus on developing talent. GoI policy making organizations are talking about IoT and working to develop the ecosystem in India,” it says.

Researchers opine, resilient leaders can – with the right approach – turn this crisis into an opportunity to move forward, create more value, and make a positive impact on society. For this, building a robust ecosystem of partners, suppliers, and service vendors to support and co-create IoT products and monetization services is essential.

At the same time, organizations should focus on creating a marketplace where partners can host information on cloud, enabling easy access to information anytime and anywhere. Opening up this to third parties is beneficial, and makes it easy to build and publish apps, and custom solutions to generate revenue. One key component of the ecosystem is academic and research institutes. These institutes are key drivers of innovation. Apart from being skill providers, academic institutes can support long-term research in a particular area.

Finally, building a robust data management and analytics strategy is imperative for organizations to derive maximum insights from data. The goal is to create a “single source of truth” via data storage, harmonization, and processing.

  • To make such a data platform effective, the focus should be on building an interoperable system that creates an internal ecosystem for the seamless exchange of data and information from varied sensors or devices (compatible with different OEMs’ communication protocols).
  • The focus should also be on using open communication standards across technology systems that enable ease of information exchange

However, after Covid-19, the focus is on conserving cash in India and the Deloitte report projects a flat growth throughout 2020, possibly going into the first half of 2021. It adds that growth after the second half of 2021 is expected to be much faster after a Covid-19 vaccine becomes mainstream.

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at sohini.bagchi@trivone.com