IoT remains a puzzle for many enterprises, governments, OEMs and service providers: Q&A with Marc Jones, CEO of Aeris Communications
Written by Tina Gurnaney from The Economic Times
While IoT is proliferating in India rapidly, there remain challenges and roadblocks related to designing and building of an IoT solution, planning and cost and limited expertise. In an interaction with ET Telecom’s Tina Gurnaney, Marc Jones, Chairman and CEO of Aeris Communications talked at length about the state of IoT in India.
What kind of market does Aeris see for IoT solutions and services in India?
We see unlimited potential for IoT solutions and services in Southeast Asia, including India. No matter which source you turn to, analysts agree that the market opportunity for IoT in India is massive – and will continue to grow as more and more businesses realize the value that IoT solutions have to offer.
We expect that the Indian government’s planned investment of about USD 1 billion for 100 smart cities, combined with Digital India and other government initiatives, will not only help to realize this value, but also facilitate IoT adoption across related industries such as agriculture, energy, and transportation.
What are the roadblocks or challenges hindering growth of IoT in India?
IoT remains a puzzle for many enterprises, governments, OEMs, and service providers for three reasons.
First, complexity. Designing and building an IoT solution can be a daunting process. The vendor and product ecosystems are highly fragmented and technology is evolving daily. Few companies know where to start.
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Second, and particularly without proper planning, total costs can be significant. For example, in many use cases, we can be talking about millions or even billons of connected devices, all requiring connectivity and more.
Third, expertise is not yet widespread. The companies implementing IoT solutions generally are not software providers, and often lack the skills necessary to design, implement, and (perhaps most importantly) extract value from an IoT solution.
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What are Aeris’ expansion plans?
We’ve hired a full-time team of more than 75, and built a great new office in Noida, which we already are looking to expand. We also have established partnerships with several of India’s largest telcos, and have deployed our first IoT solutions with many, many more in pilot and pipeline stages.
What kind of growth is the company targeting by March 2018?
While we don’t provide financial projections, I can report that we are far ahead of our internal expectations for India. We are seeing rapid growth in both ecosystem partners and in customers. Our pipeline is strong and with partners like BSNL, we are seeing an acceleration of activity and growth.
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Is there anything 5G-specific tech that the company is working on?
We are building out capabilities to support a wide-range of IoT-focused wireless technologies, including Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies like LTE-M, NB-IoT, LoRa, and others. We expect these technologies will ultimately combine with 5G to form a heterogeneous network that supports large scale IoT deployments for our customers.
Aeris recently partnered with BSNL for developing IoT solutions in India. Are there any other telcos that the company is in talks with?
We plan to work together with city and regional governments to bring IoT solutions to these areas. In parallel, Aeris is also working with Aircel and other telecom service providers.
What is the pace of IoT adoption in India and what is the ideal pace?
IoT adoption is growing rapidly as a result of the interest shown by the government and private sector. IoT is early in its growth cycle, with countless pilots and new solutions being put into place and, while there are still many barriers to overcome, we expect that the pace will continue to increase over time.
What role can government play to advance IoT in India?
The license cost of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication for telcos needs to be reduced. Although, we believe that the government is doing its part. Aeris is working closely with the Indian government and various state governments in areas such as healthcare, transportation, energy and utilities, telecom, and renewables to name a few. We see the draft IoT policy formulated by the Government of India as a positive step.
What trends do you see in the Indian market when it comes to adoption of IoT services?
The appetite for IoT is growing, and as you look at the sheer number and size of IoT start-ups that have come online in the last two years, the outlook does appear positive. Talking about the logistics segment for instance, many businesses operating fleets comprising just seven to eight vehicles are using IoT in some form today and that is promising. When the healthcare and education verticals come on board, we will witness a ‘hockey stick’ curve in terms of IoT adoption.
How keen are telcos in exploring IoT services as one of the revenue streams?
There is immense interest and we have entered into some great partnerships in India with telecom players there. They now are more open to modifying their business models to incorporate non-conventional revenue sources. We view this as an evolutionary process.
By when can India expect adoption of IoT in full swing?
We believe 2020 will be an important year in India as IoT projects that currently are in the conceptual or point-of-concept stage will move into full-fledged deployment and provide a much clearer view of the revenue potential predicted by NASSCOM and other sources.
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