IoT to benefit wider industry spectrum by 2019 : Ganesh Ramamoorthy, Gartner

IoT to benefit wider industry spectrum by 2019 : Ganesh Ramamoorthy, Gartner
Companies investing in IoT technology need to understand the importance of the service and whether that type of service makes absolute sense for their company.
Interview Mar 12th 2015
The biggest hindrance for the end user companies will be the justification of IoT investments backed by a strong business case, says Ganesh Ramamoorthy, research VP, Gartner. Excerpts from the exclusive interview.

Everyone is fairly positive about IoT. What is the ground reality of IoT market in India?

Getting an accurate picture of the market number at this point of time -- specifically for India -- would be very misleading. Because IoT is just beginning to pick up and take shape as a definite market. We don’t have major notion on which trend of applications will pick up from which segments. Having said that, the global market will touch USD 340 Billion for the year 2020. This market number includes all services, apps, analytics, It hardware, sensors, IoT devices, communications, datacenter.

What are the roadblocks for wider adoption of IoT and how can those be tackled by technology vendors or stakeholders of IoT?

Not many from technology perspective. IoT technology per se is very simple based on sensors. The foremost challenge is ensuring the various devices (like Air conditioners, washing machines and others with different sensors) talk to each other. In industrial scenarios, there would be refrigeration unit, filtration. These heterogeneous environment with hardware equipments need to talk with each other through sensors for IoT to work. That common language for the connected devices to inter communicate is the biggest challengeIt is being dealt with various standardized protocols like CoAp, MQTT (machine-to-machine (M2M)/"Internet of Things" connectivity protocol) etcetera. IoT platforms are being developed even by Indian tech companies to enable the communication of different devices. Security is also a concern which will erase over time.

What about the mindset shift of end user companies in India who wish to latch onto IoT bandwagon?

The biggest hindrance from the end user companies will be the justification of IoT investments. They need to have a strong business case on how IoT will help their company maybe cost reduction, increase productivity, improving sales, finding new customers, improving customer satisfaction. That justification to CFOs / CEOs and the stakeholders of the companies is extremely important to secure the budgets for IoT projects for their organizations. The real hindrance is to completely understand and then justify the business viability of IoT projects. The IoT roadmap has to be related someway to the business objective of the organization. As long as CIOs achieves that business outcome with the pilot project there would be no obstacle for IoT to take off. Each company will need to evaluate its position and if it is essential for them to invest in IoT infrastructure. Some companies might not need IoT. Smaller companies can also benefit from IoT but they again need to justify those investments as the case with large enterprises.

Which verticals do you feel will be early adopters of IoT in India?

We are witnessing pilot projects in various industries like retail, healthcare, utilities, Oil and gas other areas. Energy and Utilities because of the investments in Smart Grid. Government of India is providing lot of push for smart cities which is driven by IOT technologies. But these pilot projects will grow in full-fledged form only after the business resources and RoI is measured by the end user company. As the benefits pour in from the pilots, we expect the investments to grow in IoT projects. Industry standards are vital to establish uniform communication between various equipments which are very heterogeneous in nature. It will take some time for standards to mature in fullness across the industry. We are not really gung-ho about IoT adoption to rise overnight. We will have to wait till the year 2018 or 2019 for real and measurable benefits of IoT across wider spectrum of industries.

How can Cisco, Intel, SAP, Microsoft and others emerge as strong IoT vendors and further enable their channel ecosystem?

IoT -- unlike popular belief --is not a hardware or infrastructure play. IoT is complete services play. It is not about implementing their (vendors) services. IoT basically links an IoT device with an attached service. For example, IoT device Fitbit on wrist tracks person’s health, heart rate etc. That service delivered by the company collects/analyses the data and pushes it to user’s smartphone is the most central element. Merely pushing device is useless if the service is not available or delivered in proper manner. Companies investing in IoT technology need to understand the importance of the service and whether that type of service makes absolute sense for their company. Vendors need to ask the same question. They can’t just push boxes without linkage to the services offered by other parties or they can offered new services with IoT solution.

Would limited bandwidth and inconsistent internet be a major roadblock for IoT especially in rural India?

I am not skeptic about the bandwidth but probably more concerned about connectivity in the first place. You can establish IoT infra through cellular network but is the cellular coverage Pan India including far flung towns is questionable. Smart city projects too are very city centric at this point of time especially in metros and tier 2 / 3 cities. From an end user organization perspective they so have the requisite network, Wi-Fi and internet network to ensure IoT delivers the needed business imperatives. I am not concerned for connectivity from application point of view for end organizations. But taking IoT for each consumer across India could prove to be daunting if the connectivity issue is not fixed.