IoT/M2M – The India story – part 2
M2M is already playing a part towards actualising many Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations through useful applications in healthcare, clean water availability, improved sanitation and hygiene facilities, energy conservation, the distribution of commodities and increased food security. M2M applications and services in these sectors enable an improvement in operational efficiency, productivity and collaboration. In a country like India, M2M could help in solving some of the basic challenges in terms of lack of optimum infrastructure for healthcare, education, banking, power, transportation and other sectors. The common man could benefit from radical change in everyday stress contributors like traffic congestion, accidents, emergency services, payment systems and ticketing – just to mention a few. We are already seeing smartphones and tablets helping us to control and monitor hundreds of connected devices at home, the office, in the car and other possible places. This leads to enormous opportunities for smart homes, smart cars and smart cities, where everything is connected and could be controlled remotely. Corruption and inefficiency in billing procedures for essential utilities can be tackled through M2M based intelligent metering and billing systems.
M2M applications have a great potential to transform the way enterprises operate their businesses. It will challenge companies to be creative and innovative in the same way as we are seeing the mobile internet do. Given the diverse nature of M2M applications, some sectors will be more successful and emerge as a winner amongst others. These could be the automotive sector, the agriculture and animal husbandry sectors, the manufacturing industry, the customer electronics space, housing and apartment complexes, facility management services, security and surveillance operations and so on.
However, there are serious challenges and several barriers that have the potential to slowdown the development and adoption of M2M/IoT applications. Deployment of the IPv6 communication standard, sensor technologies,adoption of standards in terms of security, privacy and architecture, existing low-cost business models, network upgrades and regulatory compliances will pose challenges for all players in the M2M/IoT ecosystem. Since M2M technologies would cater to several strategic and regulated industries such as healthcare, education, automotive and agriculture, telecom networks will need to support these vertical-tailored applications as per business and regulatory requirements.
Add to this, the fragmented approach we see more often than not in the technology delivery side. Quicker adaptation would occur with the availability of one stop solution providers, a space which the telcos are equipped to occupy. Given the diverse stake holders across the technology delivery chain, integration to provide quality assurances on various deliverables are a key factor.
However, despite all these challenges, the enormous benefits and opportunities make M2M/IoT a huge driver of innovation and economic growth throughout developed and developing countries. All stakeholders including the government need to come together to overcome these challenges and unleash its full potential. An interesting World Bank study indicates that a 10% increase in mobile and broadband penetration increases the per capita GDP by 0.81% and 1.38% respectively in the developing countries. This increase in GDP on account of telecom penetration can be significantly augmented through M2M communication penetration.