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Deciphering the Dynamics of IoT Integration, Smart Cities and Manufacturing Landscape in India

Praveen Arora, VP, and Business Head, IoT, Tata Communications

Praveen Arora with over 26 years of extensive experience, contributing to C-Suite strategy and executing impactful business transformations in Innovation, Industry X.0, IoT, Digital Thread, and Twin across diverse industries. His journey began in automotive engineering with Auto OEMs, evolving through roles in R&D efficiency, product planning, design, innovation, systems engineering, portfolio management, cost reduction, and business process improvement. Operating globally, he has spearheaded initiatives in North America, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and India. Arora's passion for design thinking, coupled with a focus on results, positions him as a dynamic leader, bringing thought leadership and credibility across multiple domains.

In a conversation with Keerthana H K, Correspondent, CIO Insider Magazine, Praveen Arora, VP and Business Head, IoT at Tata Communications, shared his views and thoughts on what emerging trends in IoT are likely to impact smart cities and manufacturing in India in the next few years, as well as how IoT technologies can be seamlessly integrated with existing IT infrastructure in cities and manufacturing units without disruption.

What are the challenges hindering adoption of IoT in smart cities and manufacturing sector in India, and how can these challenges be addressed?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been one of the key initiatives in the new digital world. Its adoption in smart cities and manufacturing sector faces multifaceted challenges. The intricate integration of sensor data, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and big data analytics create a complex ecosystem that is highly fragmented. To bridge this gap, there is a need for a hyper-connected ecosystem and digital fabric that seamlessly incorporates all these components. This interconnected framework is essential to unlock the full potential of IoT, offering cohesive and comprehensive solutions. The staggering growth predicted by the International Data Corporation (IDC) across devices connected to the internet, is estimated to reach 41.6 billion by 2025, highlighting the need for robust solutions capable of handling massive amounts of interconnected touchpoints and data. This exponential growth underscores the imperative for developing solutions that can effectively manage and analyze vast volumes of data generated by these connected devices.

Security concerns pose another significant challenge to widespread IoT adoption. With the increasing number of interconnected devices, there is a parallel increase in vulnerability to unauthorized access and data leaks. Establishing full proof security measures is crucial to mitigate risks and build trust among users and stakeholders. Continuous adaptation of security infrastructure to evolving threats is necessary in this dynamic and interconnected ecosystem.

Lastly, talent shortage is one of the pain point areas, involving multiple technologies and specific skills which encompass AI/ML Data Scientists, Cybersecurity experts, system integration experts etc. All this information needs to be pieced together for an end customer to ensure a meaningful business.

What is the level of influence government initiatives have on the IoT adoption, for the same?
Government initiatives play a pivotal role in shaping the landscape for IoT adoption in India. The ‘Make

in India’ program has significantly boosted investments in the manufacturing sector, particularly in electronics and IoT. It aligns with the goal of designing, developing, and manufacturing devices and solutions within the country. The ‘Digital India’ program is another crucial driver for IoT adoption. By providing a vision of digital connectivity for citizens, this initiative focuses on enhancing e-commerce, digital payments while fostering overall technology development. Positive outcomes are emerging from these initiatives, reflecting in the growing age of digitalization in the country.

The National Policy on Electronics serves as a comprehensive framework supporting the growth of electronics and IoT sectors. It establishes favorable conditions for investment, infrastructure development, and research and development. Additionally, tangible initiatives such as tax incentives and exemptions further incentivize companies to invest in developing IoT solutions within India. The opportunities that we see for IoT are numerous in smart cities, manufacturing processes, safety, compliance and there is a lot of focus across sectors.

What role do advanced analytics and AI play in extracting meaningful information from IoT-generated data in manufacturing processes?
In the manufacturing sector, the convergence of IoT-generated data with advanced analytics and AI has transformative implications. AI's ability to interpret vast amounts of real-time data generated by IoT devices is a key technology driver. This combination drives new AI systems integration, particularly within the industrial IoT landscape, contributing to approximately 27 percent of new AI systems integrations. AI is not only instrumental in interpreting data but also plays a pivotal role in bolstering security measures. Safeguarding assets, reducing cyber-attacks, and mitigating fraud are areas where AI complements IoT in enhancing overall manufacturing security.

In the tapestry of progress, IoT stitches innovation, smartcities weave connectivity, and manufacturing threads efficiency in India's evolution of the digital fabric.

AI facilitates the integration of advanced analytics and predictive analytics in manufacturing processes. This integration enables interpreting real-time data and helps in efficient decision-making during certain ambiguities from normal patterns. Industrial IoT significantly benefits from this synergy, with embedded AI, edge computing and integration of processing power which contributes to a substantial percentage of new integrations. This technological convergence showcases the potential for advanced analytics and AI to extract meaningful insights from the vast pool of data generated by IoT in manufacturing processes.

How should IoT technologies be seamlessly incorporated into existing IT infrastructure in cities and factories without causing any disruptions?
Integrating IoT technologies with existing IT infrastructure requires a strategic and carefully planned approach. Use case-based adoption is gaining prominence as companies focus on specific business needs, ensuring the right integration of existing systems with IoT solutions. The seamless combination of AI and IoT goes beyond security enhancements and drives improvements in various aspects of manufacturing, including efficiency, warehouse management, and safety protocols. This approach allows for a more efficient and targeted deployment of IoT technologies, tailored to address specific challenges and enhance existing processes. Companies are increasingly seeking network-agnostic solutions that can seamlessly work with their current networks. This provides flexibility and ensures that IoT solutions can be deployed without major modifications to existing infrastructure. These solutions offer better coverage, lower costs, and longer battery life, addressing the practical challenges associated with deploying IoT devices in industrial environments. The role of IoT platforms becomes crucial in facilitating integration. These platforms serve as a central hub where data from existing systems and IoT sensors converge into a unified business intelligence format. This format aids efficient decision-making by providing a comprehensive view of relevant information.

In your view, what emerging trends in IoT are likely to impact smart cities and the manufacturing sector in India in the next few years?
Use of technology from an IoT perspective with the combination of Cloud Edge, AI & ML tools will help in significant improvements and meet corporate goals with People-First and Planet-First initiatives. In the manufacturing sector, a focus on people's safety, enhanced productivity, process management, and sustainability initiatives will lead the way. Companies are moving towards their sustainability goals by using advanced technologies to reduce carbon footprints and fulfill their green mission. ’In smart cities, we are seeing trends on citizen-first initiatives such as traffic and waste management, urban living conditions, and sustainability measures. These solutions will provide efficient utilization of existing resources. Overall, the market has now fairly matured, and we have seen a spike in productivity of around 20 percent and increased video based IoT adoption for better customer experiences. These trends signify a shift towards holistic, people-first, and sustainability-driven initiatives, aligning with the global push for a connected and sustainable future.

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