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New ways to communicate: Ganesh Natarajan, CEO, Zensar Technologies

November 5, 2012

For a long time, communicating meant speaking to people or sending them a letter if they were far away. Now, with the ubiquitous presence of the internet and killer apps like the worldwide web, Twitter, facebook and instant messaging, nobody is ever more than a thought away. The new revolution called, Internet of Things (IOT), has the ability to change all communications, not just that traditionally experienced between human beings!

IOT has the ability to transform governments, communities and the IT industry within this decade. This is simply because, as the Mckinsey Quarterly of March 2010 had argued, every object today, from the car to the washing machine has embedded microprocessors and the ability to communicate. IOT depends on an intelligent infrastructure where real and virtual devices are connected through communication protocols. The information network with such pervasive connectivity has the potential to transform business models, improve business processes and reduce costs and risks. There is no need to reiterate the value that such transforming business models holds for the IT industry as companies explore new frontiers.

IOT is not a new term and was coined back in 1999. Since then, its progress has been slow but steady, incremental but pervasive. Logically, the very first application of IOT was in the logistics area and in the introduction of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging for facilitating better inventory management, route planning and prevention of losses in retail and distribution. In the early years, RFID tagging was restricted to expensive stock keeping units because of the need to maximise return on investment. But as costs declined, the advantages of pervasive connectivity were not lost on managers of surveillance and security and CIOs who have to meet the higher service levels demanded by manufacturing managers for information flow from the shop floor to the boardroom.

Inevitably, the biggest adopter of IOT in the next ten years or so will be the healthcare sector. Advances in wired and wireless communications has led to the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects computers finding application in pacemakers and pill shaped cameras that traverse interior parts of the human body to generate thousands of images leading to better diagnosis and more effective surgical treatment in many cases. Precision farming has also been enabled by wireless linkages that integrate intelligence from remote satellites and ground crop condition information to differentiate agricultural inputs for individual areas of large fields and farms.

What does IOT mean for service providers like Zensar Technologies and the entire Indian IT industry? As a company, we have an excellent and symbiotic partnership with Tata Communications which has provided us our Internet Leased Lines and aces to the National Dedicated Ethernet, enabled MPLS and high definition video conferencing to change the way we communicate – within the company, with our business partners and all our customers.

However, it’s a different philosophical issue whether all these forms of communications are good for society, even though they undoubtedly move the wheels of business industry and government much faster than before. We all hope that a via media solution will be found where the availability of so many forms of technology-enabled communications does not make us all humanoids and we retain the ability to reach out so that we still consist to be valuable members of the human race!

Follow him on twitter @GaneshNatarajan