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From PoC to Scale – A Roadmap for Enterprises Building Everything IoT

August 8, 2019

Alok Bardiya   

Head – Internet of Things (Business Unit), Tata Communications

Is your business ready for a fully integrated IoT solution? Tata Communications’ Alok Bardiya explains how to tackle the challenge

Three years ago, Bluestar – an air conditioning and commercial refrigeration company was facing a massive challenge to provide timely customer-service across more than 1200 customer sites where their products were installed. The company then leveraged IoT to connect all installed units to a central location to identify and predict an issue, enabling them to start remote diagnosis thus saving cost and time. Within two years, the company succeeded in IoT enabling 600 customers’ sites and has now incorporated IoT across multiple areas in the company.

A major business disruptor providing a wealth of opportunities, IoT’s potential is limitless. However, today’s IoT market is overcrowded and fragmented, with different technologies being offered by different players, vying for both market share and mindshare, hindering the market from scaling. The result? A significant number of IoT projects are taking long to reach scale and creating the impact they intended to.

“A well-planned and well-executed Proof of Concept (PoC) is important to identify design challenges without large-scale financial or infrastructure challenges so that enterprises are empowered to begin an end-to-end IoT implementation journey.”

Through our experience and supporting research on the Indian IoT landscape, we believe that enterprises must keep in mind the 6 S’s right at the onset of designing their IoT roadmap: Solution, Surplus, Skill, Speed, Security and Scale.

Solution

While IoT continues to be a hot topic globally, business imperatives should steer the technology, and not the other way around. First, identify the business need – this could be discovering operational inefficiencies, understanding the pulse of your customer when using your products or creating altogether new revenue streams. Once you have determined the need, map it to the right IoT product / solution for it.

Surplus

The ROI from IoT is largely perceived to be in the form of cost savings and increase in efficiency. But with the right use of the technology, there is potential to also introduce new streams of revenue for the business. For instance, Sheela Foam (the makers of Sleepwell mattress) use IoT to build personalised, on-demand mattresses. The company opened IoT-enabled experience zones in showrooms across India wherein sensors and 3D imaging effectively analyse a customer’s pressure points and weight distribution and accordingly design a personalised mattress. Through this, the company succeeded in transforming India’s mattress manufacturing industry.

“Instead of looking at IoT as a subset of a company’s digital transformation project, it’s important to outline the long-term, bigger goals an enterprise seeks to achieve and then start with the quick wins, instead of waiting for full scale disruption.”

Skill

Enterprises must shift their focus from just prioritising technology capabilities to also assessing the IoT providers’ skill, especially their ability to bring all the pieces in the ecosystem together offering scalability, ease-of-use and overall fit to deliver a complete integrated solution.

Speed

The outcome of a PoC is a good way to determine if the IoT idea can be turned in to a reality. It is not to establish the best process or understand the market potential – this comes at a later stage. Think of your turn around time (TAT) and work towards setting a minimum TAT for your project. The other approach is to learn from the experience of others and leverage the learnings from other use cases.

Security

In several organisations today, cybersecurity has become a boardroom issue. While the security awareness in enterprises is growing, the adoption remains a key challenge in the experimental phase and this only intensifies with scale as security gets left out resulting in a no-ownership issue.

A recent research shows that enterprise customers are willing to buy more IoT devices as well as pay more (nearly 22 per cent more on average) if security is addressed effectively. Hence, incorporating security right from the onset should be a no-brainer

Scale

Interestingly, research from the Ovum study has shown that majority of enterprises who have deployed IoT, have seen measurable benefits within 12 months of deployment.  The best way is to start small and then scale up gradually.

We have seen our customers start with a pilot but also have a plan to scale fast once they see the solution performing. But as more customers adopt IoT, we expect the newer adopters to go for scale right from the start.

This is also reflected in how some of the solution providers are scaling. Once the solution has been implemented successfully, the uptake is fast. For instance, Bengaluru’s WeGoT, an IoT-based utility solutions company took three years to establish its prototype VenAqua, a solution that empowers customers with data and recommendations on minimising water consumption in homes. The project was first rolled out in only 500 homes and a year later, it expanded to 2 cities and more than 2,000 homes. Today, the solution is present in more than 20,000 homes and has saved 550 million litres of water!

“The benefits of IoT cut across process efficiencies, new business opportunities, enhanced customer service and engagement while also bringing in productivity and cost savings.”

Following the 6 S guide can help move your IoT projects from PoC to deployment at scale.

 

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