#NAMAiot: Connected Devices & Internet of Things was supported by content delivery network and cloud computing services provider Akamai Technologies.
Who pays, and how do companies building products in the Internet of Things segment make money: from large consumer durable and electronics manufacturers by building services for General Electric’s of the world, or the automobile industry, or directly from consumers? Notes from our #NAMA “Connected Devices & Internet of Things” event:
B2B Implementation in the auto industry
Vijay Kolli of Akamai said that one example of large scale IoT implementation is in the US automobile companies, which work with Akamai to push updates for smart cars over the air. “That’s probably the closest we got in terms of IoT. We are trying to solve the congestion problems.”
Ruchi Kaushal, of BP/Castrol, gave an example of a US-based company called Automatic.com which uses a dongle which can provide telemetry about a car’s performance. The device relays data from the car to a smartphone and gives information about fuel efficiency, car parking location, emergency responses, etc. Closer home, Kaushal spoke about Pune-based CarIQ which tops up telemetry services along with offline services such as roadside assistance, insurance and offers and deals on car accessories. However, Kaushal opined that unless the Volkswagens, Fords and Suzukis of the world adopt these technologies, the spread of IoT services will be limited.
Naresh Kumar Sharma, head of marketing communications at Tata Communications, said that every automotive company needs to come together and put the standards for IoT devices. “The information that’s available right now is also extremely limited. It’s not enough to get consumer insight. So, that kind of standardization needs to kind of kick in for all automotive companies, because right now, every company is doing something on its own,” he added.
Sharma said although the implementation of connected devices in the automobile industry is B2B, the ultimate focus is going to on the consumer. “For example, Tata Motors is coming out with this really exciting product and some of the things that are mentioned, will be out soon…. So everything that’s consumed from our company is largely B2B2C innovation. So it’s basically the navigation apps that we have, that works seamlessly with the Tata vehicle. It is finally about how the consumer is going to use the product. So, B2C is core, but B2B is what facilitates this,” he explained.
Aditya Jaiswal, portfolio manager, M2M, mobility and analytics at Vodafone concurs with Sharma’s observations. “I mean the traction that we’re seeing in the market is definitely B2B and that’s how the business is being driven today, but having said that we’re also observing that we’re getting some kind of requests for the B2C part of it. There are some customers who want to explore this opportunity in B2C domain,” he added.
The B2C way
Vishal Gondal of GOQII said a way to increase IoT device penetration could be through health applications, say, connected heart monitors. “India is the capital of heart diseases, right? So if somebody can build a decent heart monitor which can be put on chronic patients and which can connect to hospitals,” Gondal explained. “Today you are putting in these people in intensive care units or constant monitoring which costs too much. ICUs or constant monitoring is costing too much. Gondal added that if there was a heart monitor which could constantly talk back it could be potentially provide health care for much cheaper.
Gondal added that for mass consumer adoption a completely different protocol must be adopted for connected devices.
“I mean web (as a communication protocol) will remain but I’m saying that’s not the challenge, the reason why IoT is not spreading is not because of any of this. It’s because of consumer adoption. The way mobile india has 800 million users, can we make each of those 800 million users to get a watch or a band or some kind of device to attach to their AC, their water cooler or their fridge.If we can convince them that this can cut their electricity bill by 50% everybody would want it,” Gondal said.
Applications in agriculture industries
Another low-hanging fruit that an attendee pointed out is in the agriculture industry: their company is trying to set up sensors in the agri industry which can give real-time information about temperature in different parts of farms. “Farmers still don’t have data points to say for example I have this kind of temperature in a particular area in the farm. And, if, say he’s near a river there could be temperature drop of at least 2-3 degrees. And if these kinds of consumer devices are being made available with the help of connected devices I think it could be a massive difference.”
He also explained that sensors and connected devices could be used for monitoring cold storage logistics while transporting produce. “So, one of the devices we came across in this space was used in transportation of containers from one location to another, and there was a device which was sitting in the container. But it is verified at the end point tha the cold storage was not shut down. There was no continuous data monitoring and transferring of this data. It was only happening at the end of the cycle.”
Padmaja Ruparel, president of the Indian Angel Network, also pointed that IoT in the agriculture space, the revenue build up goes in the B2B way but the deliver of the service is B2C. “So, go to the farmer and say “I can do this service for you” and most large sugar mills and atta mills have contracts with farmers. The deal usually is that, for say, 100 acres they’re picking up grain or sugarcane from farmers. So they’re paying the farmers. So an IoT company can do backend revenue collection from that payment which is supposed to go to the farmer so that so the collection process becomes a lot easier. So its a B2B contract from that perspective for revenue collection but the services are being provided to the farmer,” she explained.