There has been an accelerating change in the way IoT and other advanced technologies are adopted, especially in the post-pandemic period. The IoT technology adoption has become an important part of the strategic business decisions in almost every organization today. Here is a report on the interaction with Mr Sivaram Pothukuchi, Evangelist for Industry 4.0 & Digital Transformation…
Internet of Things or IoT is a term that has existed as early as the 1960s, but only since 2008, have technology experts started understanding its importance. IoT is a term used to describe a network of objects connected via sensors, software, and other technologies, all for the purpose of exchanging data with the network of connected devices. In the space of industrial IoT, businesses have started using machine-to-machine communication to increase efficiency, productivity, and speed, all the while reducing costs and time.
Another major thrust in the field of IoT was in 2020 when the world was hit with an unknown infectious disease that transformed how businesses work. Shekhar Jitkar, Senior Director, Quadrant Knowledge Solutions, interacted with Mr Sivaram Pothukuchi, Evangelist for Industry 4.0 & Digital Transformation, Advisor to C4i4 Lab, and the former Managing Director, B&R Industrial Automation, who provided insights on IoT technology adoption and getting the most out of IT/OT convergence.
The conversation started with the question on how the business leadership perspective in the IoT and digital transformation areas has changed and how the approach towards investments in automation/digital technologies has also undergone a change in the post-pandemic period. Mr Sivaram emphasized that instead of viewing business transformation as pre-and post-COVID era, one should look at how the entire transformation from Industry 3.0 to Industry 4.0 is taking place. Every organization should analyze whether it is still in the 3.0 era or upgraded to 4.0, and whether the upgradation is applicable in all the sections and departments of the organization. Now, a business is not limited to just one organization, but has many stakeholders attached to it including many parts of the same supply chain, with the same business strategy being applicable to all. So, the business leadership perspective becomes very broad, when it comes to investment in IoT or digital transformation strategy.
There has been a huge disruption in the market dynamics because of the pandemic, leading to frequently changing business strategies. Mr Sivaram highlighted that the pandemic that hit the world in 2020 was the one event that came without any warning. No one was prepared for that. The business economy had not anticipated such an event on such a large scale, affecting all parts of the world. Even after experimenting and working out different strategies for months, businessmen were struggling to manage the operations, and they realized that they have to address all new business challenges. For example, with the onset of the pandemic, there was a huge increase in demand for oxygen cylinders and masks. Hence, businesses had to change their setup to cater to the new demand. With this new setup, companies had to maintain an equilibrium between scalability and profitability. On one side, they had to start increasing the production of new goods that were not traditionally made before and at the same time, they have to maintain a profit with their original products. Hence, businesses finally understood the importance of data management and how it can benefit business management.
Strategic planning of IoT
It was predicted earlier that IoT will become a mainstream enterprise element and 50% of 2021 IT budgets, on average, will be dedicated to IoT projects development and maintenance, as per TIA’s (Telecommunication Industry Association) survey. When pointed out at this survey, Mr Sivaram emphasized that the deployment, development and maintenance of IoT projects should have its own budget, and should not be considered under the budget of IT, as it’s become a very important and mainstream activity now. He also suggests that the strategic planning of IoT is a must for a successful digital transformation programme in every enterprise.
IoT Implementation Challenges
When asked about the various challenges or barriers in the implementation of the continuously changing IoT technologies, Mr Sivaram stated that the term IoT has been seen used interchangeably with other technologies, and many times people not being able to understand and describe the concept correctly. Sometimes, people know the concept of IoT, but its application is often misunderstood by them. Often, they are not fully able to apprehend how to properly use IoT in their business or factory and avail its benefits. Although IoT is applicable for many things, the full utilization of the capabilities, even the tiny computational elements, are not fully realized. The application of IoT is happening with the help of people sitting behind cloud computing and trying to make the imagination a reality, which doesn’t happen in practical terms. An IoT service provider must research the wants and needs of consumers to make a successful consumption. This customer journey in this matter is imperative for a growing business.
On the various complexities involved while aiming at a successful digital transformation project and business leader’s perspective towards addressing such complexities, Mr Shivaram recommended that business leaders should start with a statement of vision and purpose. If they are not sure about why IoT, they will not be able to successfully implement it. He also stresses on the fact that entrepreneurs have to understand the right level of technology application for successful business transformation. Businesses should not adopt advanced technologies simply because it is a trend in the industry, they have to know which technologies to adopt that are relevant to their business and the outcome.
Shinjini Sarkar is an Senior Content Specialist at Quadrant Knowledge Solutions.