The IoT gets going in India

Jim Morrish, Machina Research

Guest post by Jim Morrish, Founder & Chief Research Officer, Machina Research.

On Friday 12th December, Machina Research attended, and presented to, The National Association of Software and Services Companies’ (NASSCOM’s) Annual Technology Conference in Delhi. NASSCOM is the trade association for the Indian information technology and business process outsourcing industry. It has around 1500 members, of which 250 are non-Indian companies from the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

This year the conference focussed on IoT and Big Data, and many of the companies that can be expected to play dominant and influential roles in the Indian IoT space were represented, including the likes of Tech Mahindra, Airtel and IBM. There were also a number of newer startups in the IoT space in attendance. Against this general background of established industry players and upstarts, it was good to see one of the West’s leading niche IoT-specialist companies present, in the form of Aeris represented by the head of their Indian office.

So why all the interest in India?

The first reason is the dynamism that the Narendra Modi has bought to the country. Whilst Indian civil servants may be reluctant to work a full day, commercial enterprises are relishing the opportunities that government-driven change and dynamism bring. Some examples of such opportunities in the IoT space include government initiatives to develop 100 smart cities and an initiative to put several million electric vehicles on the roads.

The second reason is the worldwide IoT opportunity outside India. In recent years, India has developed a significant and world-class systems integration industry, and the coming IoT is a disruptive event in that industry. Whilst the dawn of the IoT is a huge opportunity for the Indian systems integration industry, it will also provide an opportunity for other Emerging-world providers to muscle in on the action. Thus the Indian SI industry is compelled vigorously to engage with new and emerging IoT competitive landscapes. A closely related opportunity for India is the export of all the solutions, platforms and applications that will be developed to support those 100 smart cities. Other government initiatives are sure to result in similar opportunities.

It is this thinking that lies behind a government aim to grow the Indian IoT sector to a total revenue of USD15bn by 2020. This ambition is underlined by the drafting of an IoT Policy document by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), backed by an initial 1 trillion Rupees (USD1.6bn) commitment and aimed at building a structure around demonstration centres, R&D, standards development, and human resource development.

For many years now, Machina Research has expounded the view that the US will lead the development of the Internet of Things in terms of relentless investment and execution, Europe will lead in terms of policy and regulation (particularly around privacy and data protection), whilst Asia will lead in terms of innovation. In the medium-long term, it is that capability for innovation that will become the more dominant theme, against a backdrop of accepted (behavioural) protocols. There are many in India that seem to be coming around to that view.

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