The Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged as a central pillar for digitalisation of business and it’s not difficult to figure out why. Across the world, IoT has transformed the way businesses operate – be it to help unlock new revenue streams, or improve efficiency and profitability or to increase customer engagement. Today, if you want to operate a smooth, efficient, profitable business, then having an IoT architecture is indispensable.
To put it simply IoT has revolutionized the way companies operate. Away from the shop floor it has empowered companies to boost customer engagement, build brand loyalty, and overall deliver not just superior products but an unparalleled service experience.
As Vodafone globally, we are the world’s largest IoT services provider. As Vi in India, we are playing just as pivotal a part in driving the digital transformation that is reshaping our country’s business landscape.
The opportunity for IoT adoption in India is huge as the country continues to not just industrialize but also digitalise. Over the last decade (2009-2019), nearly 6,000 IoT patents were filed in India, tech industry body Nasscom said earlier this year. More than 5000 of those were filed in the last five years alone. This acceleration in IoT adoption bears a direct correlation with the emergence of high speed internet infrastructure in the country, namely the evolution of data networks from 2G to 3G to now 4G.
With the telecom infrastructure more robust than ever, an increased appetite for digitalisation from certain key industries, as well as companies readjusting their business models to be more digital heavy amid the new normal of the pandemic, the pace of IoT adoption is only set to gain momentum.
Thus far IoT adoption has been primarily led by industries like utilities, automotive, logistics, and fintech. However, as the lines between products and services begin to blur, industries such as energy manufacturing, healthcare, smart mobility have begun to increasingly harness the power of connectivity.
As Vi, we have played a leading role in enabling the India’s automotive industry with IoT. With our solutions the factory floor has become largely automated. It has made it far more efficient as well. It has cut down costs for companies, with maintenance expenditure drastically lower, and reduced downtime. This is due to IoT enabling all connected equipment to send out status updates in real-time so managers know just when a certain piece of equipment might need maintenance before it has broken down. Moreover, it has freed up the human element of the workforce to upskill and fulfil higher functions, thereby allowing businesses to make the most of their resources be they human or mechanical.
Similarly it has changed the way customers experience their cars. A car purchase today is no longer a hardware decision, but much like a smartphone, a software decision. Car makers today, are not just competing on design, reliability and fuel mileage anymore but also on how connected their car is. Features like AI assistants, real time status monitoring, breakdown assistance, they are all being made possible by IoT.
Going forward, there will come a day in the not too distant future where when you drive into your city’s commercial district your car will automatically flag up parking options for you close to your destination. It will flag up stores similar to the ones you may have stopped off at some time in another part of the city, such as a bookstore or a music store, just in case you want to stop off and peruse some books again.
Even when it comes to commercial vehicles, or fleet operations, IoT is what’s enabling companies to track their vehicles’ locations, monitor their maintenance status, metrics like fuel consumption and even driving behaviour.
Public infrastructure is going to be another big driver of IoT in India with increasing urbanisation and the government’s push to construct smart cities. We are already seeing this when it comes to the energy sector and the government’s endeavour to replace all traditional analogue electricity meters with smart meters.
Smart meters are connected meters. They use IoT to connect the consumer with the electricity provider.
They are a win-win for both. They will allow consumers to keep a track of their energy consumption and adapt it to reduce any wastage, which in turn will lower their electricity bills and lead to substantial household savings.
At the same time they will boost revenues at electricity providers while also allowing them to respond faster to any outages by being able to swiftly identify any problems in real time. It will also introduce a greater degree of reliability and stability to the power grid.
But most crucially it will introduce a degree of transparency and accountability like never before, improving billing efficiencies and empowering consumers, while also curbing power loss and theft that today act as a big drain on revenues of electricity companies.
Importantly, it will also allow electricity companies to reduce carbon emissions without compromising the integrity of the power supply.
Healthcare is going to be another promising sector for IoT adoption, especially after the pandemic when people may be wary about visiting hospitals for general checkups. Thanks to IoT these check ups can now be done remotely with doctors receiving their patients data at the hospital while the patient is sitting at home. We are already seeing this application to some degree with smart watches now on the market able to predict if the wearer is going to have a cardiac arrest and alerting their doctors. Running watches too, for example, today come with emergency handling features that automatically dial your loved ones if you have an accident and are incapacitated.
Ultimately, the more technology pervades our lives, the more critical IoT is going to become both on an individual as well as business level. The opportunity it offers is rich, the benefits endless. IoT is literally a transformative technology whose possibilities are limitless.