IoT Can Lead to 15-20% Improvement in Efficiency: Parna Ghosh, CIO, UNO Minda


As many as 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up from 31% in 2016, and is poised to reach 20.4 billion by 2020, says Gartner. It further states that the total spending on endpoints and services will reach almost $2 trillion in 2017. There is a predicted boom in IoT. How much is truth and how much hype?

In a candid chat with Muqbil Ahmar, Parna Ghosh, CIO of UNO Minda, a leading manufacturing sector conglomerate, talks about the technology as well as its future in India and worldwide. There have been reports that the company is planning to leverage the technology for several of its projects, for example, for the assembly line.

Q. There are reports that UNO Minda is experimenting with IoT? How are you trying to leverage this technology in your industry?

We are planning to implement IoT in several facets, particularly for the assembly line. However, the discussions are in a nascent stage and I would not like to divulge sensitive information. Right now, I can only say that trials are ongoing.

Having said that, there are a number of factors involved in such new-tech implementation scenarios, such as suppliers, vendors, partners, adaptability, RoI, revenues and bottom line generation. The technology is capital intensive and any company would want to know the tangible results that would come out of such an adoption. However, I estimate that this kind of digitalization will result in improved mobility (mobile device friendly), payback, data monetization, increased efficiency and revenues, together with reduced bottom lines. I think that there could be 15-20% improvement in efficiency along with 10–15% improvement in productivity.

Q. What applications do you foresee for IoT in the industry?

There are three aspects to it. The first is related to products and technology, in which new products are invented, for example, replacing mechanical switches. The second is process-related, such as manufacturing, dispatch, etc. The third is the Inspection and Test Plans (ITP), where software robotics, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, etc. can find use. These can help programs run automatically, with increased efficiency and access and reduced human involvement. IoT technologies can be particularly helpful in data churning, maintenance, and testing. Backed by predictive analytics, it could result in crisis response and preventive management in situations like breakdowns and technical snags.

Q. Researchers predict that between 20 to 30 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. What is your outlook for this technology both in India and globally?

Though we are working with new technology partners based in Hyderabad, most of the cutting-edge innovation in this field is happening in the USA and Germany. In India, there are mostly aggregators, who are not inventing anything. I don’t see much activity in the manufacturing sector. However, consumer product industries such as automobiles and appliances such as TV, fridge, etc. may witness more investments. I also don’t see a lot of activity in the processes, although I see a lot of potential there. Internationally, US and German companies are innovating very fast, almost at the rate of 15–20% every year. In such scenario, Indian companies could co-innovate, resulting in a 5–10% expansion.

Q. There have been a number of concerns around security in IoT, particularly with respect to connected appliances. What is your take on this matter?

I think the security concerns will go away over a period of time. In case of cloud computing also there were a lot of concerns about data security initially. However, now with the boom, two things have happened: data issues have resolved due to technological advancement; secondly, people are not that bothered about data security as long as the tech is cheaper and more efficient. Similarly, the IoT will also mature and people will stop talking about data security issues.

Q. How do you visualize the long term impact of IoT?

It will be certainly most disruptive. For example, if 50 robots can replace 5000 people, then why will people be hired? Right now, the robots are expensive, but with time they will mature and become affordable, then who will not want to install them? This would indeed have great social ramifications. Getting a proper job in the future may become exceedingly difficult; However, it is difficult to predict. These are times of disruptions. You never know what will happen tomorrow.   

Categories: Internet of Things

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Muqbil Ahmar

Muqbil Ahmar is a tech evangelist, environmentalist, women's rights advocate, editor, and founder of www.greenubuntu.com. He writes on ...

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