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View from India: IoT to percolate to grassroots level

The Government of India is the biggest spender and investor in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. Come 2020, 20 billion devices are expected to be connected globally. India is preparing to catch this next big wave and evolve as a hub of two billion devices through various collaborations and private-public partnerships.

All this and more was revealed at ‘Thriving in Smart Transformation,’ an information technology conference organised by Indian Staffing Federation (ISF).

Smart Cities, a flagship programme of the Government of India (GoI), is using IoT-based smart solutions to address challenges related to urban-development. This includes water and electricity consumption, along with intelligent transport systems and sustainable infrastructure. “GoI has declared the establishment of 100 Smart Cities across various states and union territories of the country, of which 20 are lighthouse projects. These projects are using IoT solutions for predictive analysis to scale up urban development and improve the quality of life for people at the grassroots level,” said Dilip Kumar, director, Infosys, speaking at the conference.

As indicated in the 2018 Union Budget, Smart Cities have started implementing various initiatives like smart command and control centre, smart roads, solar rooftops, intelligent transport systems and smart parks. Projects worth Rs 2,350 crore have been completed and works of Rs 20,852 crore are underway.

Digital India, also GoI’s flagship programme, has led to the creation of a pro-digital government that has rolled out pan-India initiatives. The Railway Protection Force plans to install three million high-tech cameras for face recognition, which can perform six million scans per second. Facial-recognition software uses algorithms along with a combination of technologies, including IoT.

In the national scheme of things, IoT is appropriate to all verticals and specialisations. GoI has already set up IoT-based surveillance cameras to capture vehicles’ number plates and monitor their movements on the road as per traffic regulations. “GoI plans to integrate the vehicular information with the National Crime Data Base to glean information about the vehicle’s history. It will send out an alert if the vehicle is a stolen one or involved in criminal activity,” observed Dilip Kumar.

IoT finds applications in consumer and industrial segments. Utilities, manufacturing, automotive and commercial telematics, transportation and logistics are among the verticals where IoT adoption is expected to be highest. However, the application of IoT has its fair share of challenges. “IoT requires a huge database both in terms of structured and unstructured data. That’s why companies need to invest in hardware and ensure that the analytics are intelligent enough to analyse the data. This also means investments in machine learning and data science,” reasoned Dr DN Rao, founder, Duke Arnics.

What’s clear is that IoT is expensive. Other technical issues are about handling the data and developing algorithms to handle that data. “IoT is a mezzanine technology that should become part of all engineering disciplines. IoT solutions need to be commoditised for processes to be de-mystified and investment costs lowered. Around 20 lakh engineers graduate annually. They need to be equipped with horizontal skills to handle IoT-related issues,” explained Rao.

With the rise of technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, big data and machine learning, the demand for new technology-based services is growing. Mobility and cloud computing each standing at 63 per cent are in maximum demand, followed by cyber security at 53 per cent and analytics at 51 per cent. They comprise the top technology drivers across organisations for their proficient functioning. Big Data will drive growth in banking, financial services and insurance and retail, whereas IoT will drive growth in the manufacturing sector.

Hence, what’s required is industry-readiness to adapt to IoT, chips, communication devices and security. “Organisations across sectors are increasingly opting for flexi-staff due to their flexibility and deep expertise in niche technologies. About 58 per cent of organisations have been hiring IT flexi-staff for their niche skill sets. Perhaps, the IT flexi-staffing industry is expected to observe a paradigm shift in demand and revenue of technology domains. New product development is estimated to have the highest revenue and demand growth rate because of constant innovations and requirement of niche skill sets,” added Rituparna Chakraborty, president, Indian Staffing Federation, an apex body of the flexi-staffing industry.

The conference - the fourth of its kind from ISF - shed light on the IT staffing industry landscape in India. According to an ISF report, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi National Capital Region are the top three states that dominate the IT flexi-staffing industry in India. Karnataka dominates the market, standing at $1.05bn, followed by Maharashtra at $0.48bn and Delhi at $0.23bn.

“The Indian IT flexi-staffing industry is projected at $5.3bn by 2021. As an enabler of the IT industry, the Indian Staffing Federation and its members are contributing for a better mobilisation of employment across the technology and trend cycle,” said Suchita Dutta, executive director, Indian Staffing Federation.

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