India has made significant strides in the telecom sector. From days when there was paucity of communication infrastructure to today when we have high voice penetration and data accessibility, the industry has seen colossal transformation. Though the penetration is higher in the cities, it is only a matter of time before it increases in the rural areas as well.
In the digital world, telcos will be focusing on how to deliver more value and contextualize their bandwidth and pipes to its customers. Internet of Things (IoT) will be a huge game changer and revenue generator in this new digital age for the telcos. The application of IoT varies from industry to industry. We believe the three emerging sectors where the telcos could ideally invest for future growth are:
- Agriculture. One of the most ignored sectors when it comes to digital applicability. However, this is an area that could prove to be a game changer. IoT services provided by the telcos can help the farmers through the entire lifecycle from farm to fork. Soil and water analysis would supply good inputs into the types of crops that can be grown along with the nutrients required. Sensors can also help in optimum irrigation and getting the right weather data. Additionally, helping the farmers with storage and supply chain data for getting the produce to market could be a major step in this life cycle. A lot needs to be done to digitize our farmlands, and IoT could go a long way in this direction. Telcos can tie-up with the farmers or with the state and local governments to provide these insights on-the-go
- Supply chain. Digital transformation of the supply chain can help increase the efficiency of operations. Already, many logistics firms are using GPS trackers in their vehicles to get real-time data. IoT could be used to derive analytics on the driver capabilities, routes, delays, condition of the roads, state of the engine. This data could be analyzed and supplied by the telcos in the form of actionable insights to the logistics companies on the cloud
- Healthcare. The healthcare sector continues to be an area where the potential of IoT is underutilized. Today, our bed to patient ratio is on the lower side. It is not practically feasible to put up hospital beds overnight considering it costs more than a crore rupees per bed as the investment. The time is ripe for looking at innovative solutions such Home Healthcare. This would require a redesign of the traditional model of care. The patient could be at home and monitored through IoT sensors by a hospital monitoring center. A collaboration between the telco, the hospital, the IoT technology provider, and the home healthcare solution provider could be the new model of care
Data is being termed as the new oil, and IoT could be the engine using that oil to drive the vehicle of progress forward. Telcos are in a unique position today having the right foundation to take part in this process. What remains to be seen is how soon we can see these transformational concepts being adopted to realize their true potential and benefits.