Building upon its core proposition of being a complete communication platform, Truecaller will be rolling out two new features – Number Scanner and Fast Track numbers with its upcoming Android release 8.45 in the coming week.

  • Number Scanner – Now you will be able to use the Truecaller app to scan a number directly from business cards, websites, street signs, shop fronts or anywhere you need to quickly lookup a number or store it to your contacts. This will enable users to have the proper resources to receive relevant information quickly, digitally and in their surrounding physical environment.
  • Scan & Pay – Users in India will also be able to scan a number and pay directly using Truecaller Pay – this is a more convenient way of making quick payments as opposed to scanning QR codes. You could be out­ for lunch with a friend, in a store, or even looking to pay bills – this will be beneficial to our users who are always on the go and lessens the need to carry cash or cards.
  • You can now send or request money, recharge, or even Flash Message any contact from your native phone book.

Truecaller has also launched Fast Track numbers, a service which integrates toll-free numbers for emergency services like police, fire, medical care, women’s helpline, roadside assistance, as well as essential categories like banks, couriers, airlines, railways, and insurance, all integrated directly into the app, accessible by the user without an internet connection.

These also include extremely useful ‘Bank Balance Check’ numbers that enable a user to check their bank balance via a return SMS from their respective bank via a missed call service. Located in the search bar, the in-built contacts will help users make phone calls at critical moments with a single tap.

Commenting on the feature set expansion, Narayan Babu, Director of Product & Engineering at Truecaller said

As a product made by the community and for the community, our commitment to our users is to constantly add features that enable them to stay ahead of the curve. These new features make Truecaller even more relevant in the real world.  When you see an important phone number, you can directly pull it into your phone with Truecaller and use it, in seconds, to connect or make a payment. Also, during critical moments you can reach out to the right company, person or service with a single tap with Fast track numbers.

*Currently, Fast Track numbers will only be available in India.

Visa, the global leader in payments technology and BillDesk, India’s leading electronic payments company, announced successful enablement of fifty large service providers for BharatQR payments acceptance in a short span of a month, thus extending the digital payment facility to potentially over 300 million consumers.

Image Source – Bharat QR

Some key merchants enabled include Tata AIG, ACT Broadband, Reliance Energy, Gujarat Gas, MTNL, Aircel, Tata Power, Pune Municipal Corporation, and Calcutta Electricity Supply spanning services such as utilities, internet, phone, DTH, insurance, and government services.

T.R. Ramachandran, Group Country Manager, India and South Asia, Visa, said

The core idea that binds technology and payments is simplicity and convenience, and QR code is a great example. Having pioneered QR technology as low cost payments solution for open loop networks, and having worked with the government and the industry in developing BharatQR, Visa’s endeavour is to grow the acceptance network for BharatQR in the country and make digital payments accessible to all. Through our collaboration with BillDesk, we hope to fast-track the transition to digital payments and make less-cash society a reality for India.

Ajay Kaushal, Co-founder, BillDesk said

BillDesk is delighted to engage with Visa to promote BharatQR. This is a simple yet powerful solution with great potential to shift consumers and merchants from cash to digital payments for everyday spends.  It provides the speed, security and convenience that cash payments cannot match.  Merchant interest in and demand for BharatQR is growing for it is simpler, faster, and more reliable ways to accept digital payments with BharatQR. We will continue to collaborate with Visa to enable online merchants for BharatQR acceptance and simplify digital payments for consumers.

Bharat QR is a secure, network-agnostic, and device less interface that enables customers to make payments using their bank apps on smartphones.  BharatQR simplifies digital payments by eliminating the need for divulging card details at the point of sale. For example, to use Bharat QR to pay their electricity bills, customers will simply need to log in to their bank’s app, and scan the QR code displayed on their electricity bill, enabling instant payment. Alternately, customers may enter their unique Customer IDs online and generate a QR code that can be scanned using their bank app.  To date, 30 banks together serving over 90% of India’s population have enabled their banking apps and nearly 400,000 merchants for BharatQR payments.

India will lead the world in smartphone adoption with a net addition of 350 million connections in 2016~20, according to a GSMA report. With the common standards, coupled with the low-cost acceptance method, BharatQR has the potential to accelerate financial inclusion in India.

Technology is evolving at a very fast pace and our waiting times [in most of the aspects] have become shorter. We want things to be better and much faster as compared to the past. Technology & Automation are acting as major disruptors in each & every sector, be it IT services, manufacturing, etc. since it results in time saving thereby reducing the overall costs!

Image Source – ChatBot

Artificial Intelligence [AI], Machine Learning [ML], BlockChain, etc. are the major emerging trends and many organizations are leveraging these technologies to solve business critical problems. Talking about Chatbots, they are used as an instrumental tool to interact & engage with customers. Chatbots fueled by AI has come a long way in recognizing the content – and context – of customers’ requests and questions [Source]. Apart from customer service, one area where Chatbots are making a dent is ‘Human Resources’.

HR Chatbots can be quite instrumental in employee on-boarding, answering generic employee queries, collection of employee data, etc. For e.g. When an employee applies for a Sick Leave and the request goes to the HR chatbot [that is online 365 days a year], the request can be accepted/rejected instantly by the HR! HR personnel can be relieved off their mundane & repeated items and focus on more important activities for the betterment of the employees.

Mumbai based startup Cyber Managers Software Services [CMSS] siezed an opportunity in the ‘HR Automation’ space and have released a number of products to improve the overall efficiency of the HR department, including H# [H-Sharp] which is an HR chatbot. We had a detailed interaction with Godwin Pinto, Business Head, CMSS about the product, problem being solved, future of chatbots in HR landcape, etc.

Please give a small brief about CMSS and its founders

Cyber Managers Software Services [CMSS] is a provider of ‘totally integrated solutions’ in the areas of software products and services catering to HR and BFSI domain. The organization works on an ancient Indian work-ethic of ‘Manasa > Vacha > Karmana’, meaning ‘we commit only to those tasks which we think we can accomplish and deliver upon our commitment’.

The company was founded by Keyur Thakore and Chirag Purecha, who is also the CEO. Chirag co-founded three businesses starting with CMSS, a 150+ member IT Solutions Company while the other three continue to grow in both size and repute.

Chirag dropped out of an engineering college to start CMSS along with a classmate. He has seen CMSS evolve from one of the survivors of the dot com bubble burst in the early 2000 to a niche HR IT solutions and products provider that it is today.

He has also co-founded two other divisions : CogMat, a Digital Media Marketing Agency which has 30+ clients of repute and a growing team of more than 40 & Phyder, a Moblie Application Development which already has the likes of ICICI Bank and RBS in their client list within a year and a half of existence.

Chirag now spends his time overseeing the businesses, helping them learn from experiences and giving occasional lectures at engineering colleges from product design to coding.

What are some of the core products of CMSS and how it is changing the HR landscape [via its HR centric software applications] ?

All our products are designed to make HR transactions more engaging for an employee at a very large scale. Currently, our products are used by some of the largest organizations in India and is helping them in identifying and managing talent through e-Ncompass and e-Nhancer

Provide contemporary Mobile interface to their existing legacy and bespoke systems thus, increasing usage and acceptance and transacting on the Go through H# and e-Ngage.

Some of the key products are the following:

e-Ncompass – A semi-customizable 360 degree feedback tool to measure training needs by conducting feedback from peers, subordinates and superiors.

e-Nhancer – A continuous feedback and performance management tool to record and aid review processes. It also helps identify and manage talents within organization.

e-Ngage Mobility – A platform to facilitate single unified mobile interface to multi third party systems.

H# – An HR chatbot – A conversational platform with AI and ML capabilities to perform self service in human like form.

Every sector is now touched by technology e.g. AI, ML, Data Intelligence, etc. including Talent Management, how has been the transformation of HR when Social & Digital Data are the key data points in hiring ?

Recent years has seen significant adoption by HR for social data, not just for employee profiling but also for internal communications and networking through tools provided by major social platforms e.g. Facebook workspace.

What were some of the key problem areas that your team encountered thus giving rise to H#

– Navigating through and getting individual profile specific answers from large policy documents was always cumbersome to employees

– There were multiple touch points/applications to access various HR IT systems which requires employee familiarity with varied interface

– Repetitive queries to HR help-desk was one common areas that needed automation

Can you please touch upon the key features of H# [The HR Bot] ?

H# is a bot specifically designed & trained for employee engagement. Some of the key features include:

  • Individually tailored policy queries
  • Automate most frequent queries raised to and resolved by HR help desk
  • Form based routine transactions like leave, muster, expense, etc application facilitated through conversations
  • Ready connectors for communication systems like Yammer, Facebook Workplace, Skype, WeChat, Lynk, etc
  • Self learning algorithms

What is the revenue model of H# and whether it can be used by large sized corporations ?

H# is a premium solution without limitation on number of users. It is available as cloud and on-premise solution. It is designed and tested for large scale transactions and is been successfully used by large sized corporations

When it comes to chat-bots/AI, the application of that bot becomes limited since there are language constraints [English/Hinglish language],varied sentiment analysis and more, how effective is the AI, NLP, etc. behind H# to handle such varied scenarios ?

H# being closed domain bot. We have limited the control on responses that it can respond. However, information obtained for context where bot tires out is recorded for future training.

Can you name some of the existing customers of H# and how has the response been so far ?

Well due to client agreements naming them would not be possible. There has been a positive adaption when it comes to specific information retrieval from large documents, which is seen as a time saving factor. e.g. What are the privilege leave policy applicable for me?

Does using the H# chat bot mean that major part of HR, especially ones dealing with leave, etc. department can be replaced with H# chat bot or both of them need to co-exist in the HR eco-system ?

H# is designed to aid HR professionals at their job and not to replace them. Of all domains, HR is the one where co-existing is indispensible. The bot therefore does not replace HR personnel, rather it reduces their efforts resolving mundane and repetitive tasks which can be automated. H# provides them with an assistant who is expert on the knowledge of policies.

Can you comment on approximate savings in OPEX that a company using H# for its HR & salary needs would make vis-a-vis hiring a physical HR ?

All of our products are low on infra footprint and built on opensource softwares. Therefore, they require a minimal CAPEX. On the OPEX it would help organization save substantially on helpdesk and training operations.

Do you have SDK of the H#, if not, are there any plans in future to release the H# chat-bot SDK so that third-party developers can build apps on the platform ?

SDK is available as a part of the core product to implement in their HR touch points. These include Facebook workplace, Yammer, Slack, Flock, Lynk, Android, iOS and web. However, the product design does not restrict the developers from enabling H# on to any other bot enabled platforms.

Which are some of the existing competitors of H# and what are some of the stand-out features as compared to other HR chat-bots ?

A search for bot will give you a flood of companies offering the solution and most of these are built on existing AI like WIT, AI, etc. However H# is built and trained specifically for the HR domain with its own on-premise AI and is integral with any existing core systems, therefore we do not see other chat bots as direct competitors of H#.

Apart from HR Chatbots, what are some of the key technology trends you observe in the HR space ?

Adoption of technology within HR is on a swift pace and the availability of most of the solutions on cloud has helped organizations try and implement solutions faster with minimal risk. Analytics in the field of talent and performance management, collaboration tools for real-time performance management, unified interfaces, cloud solution integrators, AI based automation, etc. are some of the areas which would see a lot of interest from organizations in the HR Space.

That said, one technology trend where most organizations are focused on is mapping social data points to candidates/employees. This is for the existing & new recruits, where data gathering and identifying trends and patterns could be of utmost importance to organizations in taking decisions.

According to you, what are some of the key HR functions that can never be replaced by a bot e.g. Off late there has been lot of pink slips being handed over to employees in service based companies, such scenarios require human touch that can never be replaced by HR chat bot.

Human interactions involve understanding the sentiments and emotions. There are occasions where systems cannot have the same impact as a human conversation does. Some of the processes which will always need the human factor are Induction, Exit processes, Performance review discussions and Resolving grievances. Bot can definitely aid these processes, but again, it will always require a human involvement.

We thank Godwin Pinto for sharing his insights with our readers. If your organization is planning to adopt the more tech-savvy route to HR functions, than you should give H# a try. If you have any questions for Godwin or the CMSS Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.

Delivering a seamless, consistent and integrated customer experience is the hallmark of a digital enterprise. Organizations, while racing to catch up the rapid digital changes to facilitate better decisions and successful digital transformation, move in harmony with the customers enriching and making their experience worthwhile.

Image Source –Digital Transformation

Customers expect active management of their data and preferences as well as a seamless omni-channel experience so they can readily engage with companies, whether the interaction is via mobile, the web, social media or face-to-face communication. Top customer expectations that influence an organization’s digital transformation efforts include dramatically reduced response times and immediate real-time access to products and services.

Hence, the key to winning customer’s share of mind as well as a share of his wallet is by providing him with unified and personalized experiences.

According to International Data Corporation, a majority of businesses will have to overhaul their digital front doors to support 10,000 times as many customers and customer touchpoints over the next three to five years.

Enterprises face the uphill battle to quickly build digital service delivery models that are flexible, robust and future-proofed. Enabling business processes and practices that help an organization to compete effectively in an increasingly digital world is the best way to tackle digital transformation. However, the main challenge is being driven by the demands of the tech savvy consumers, who expects an interactive experience across all interaction channels, along with the further pressure to innovate with few resources and restricted budget.

Businesses must manage the shift from transactional systems of record where information is ingested, stored, and managed in static databases and warehouses to interactive systems of engagement where real-time data is combined, accessed, interpreted and used to digitally support multi-touchpoint, real-time customer journeys and communications.

Although the benefits are countless, but at the same time, challenges to this transformation are no less.

  • Speed – Organizations often needs to evolve their own approach and use of tools in order to be able to meet the pace of change required given the increase in customer’s expectations and restricted budget. This might, sometimes, outpace their ability to deliver.
  • Capacity gap – Projects fail to hit timescales and product quality expectations leading to unsatisfied internal and external stakeholders. This cannot be fixed by incremental improvements but requires a fundamental change in the operating model for the delivery of services.
  • Lack of human resources – Most organizations lack the digital talent required to deliver the necessary changes. Skills in new technologies such as IoT, AI, and Big data analytics are in short supply. Finding external help can be valuable but only up to a certain critical point.
  • Security Breach – Cyber-security is the top disruptor that organizations expect will influence their digital strategy in the coming years.
  • Legacy – Much IT infrastructure is fragile and difficult to change but requires changes in order to support both rapid innovation and scalability. Virtualization, mobility, automation and cloud-based services have opened up a plethora of opportunities, but this needs to be taken to new heights.

All in all, a well-planned, integrated strategy is essential to steering digital transformation in alignment with the customer journey and driving customer engagement; otherwise, this could quite easily turn to be house of cards.

About the Author

Aniruddha Guha Sarkar, Senior Vice President, Engineering heads the offshore software engineering delivery at InterraIT. Aniruddha has over 25 years of industry experience, the last decade of which has been in senior executive level leadership positions. Prior to joining InterraIT in early 2012, Aniruddha worked with the house of Siemens for more than 20 years. You can connect with Mr. Aniruddha here

Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cyber-security solutions had their global executive Kevin Simzer, EVP, Sales & Marketing in India recently, stressing on how APAC tends to be a lead adopter around next generation projects focused on Cloud, Virtualization and Container related technologies.

In a total addressable market size of USD 15 billion, he opined that IOT is here to stay for the next decade, and Hybrid Cloud security was seen as one of the strongest growth areas in India and around the APAC region. Another area which is increasingly come into the fore is SOC [Security Operations Centre], and what customers are doing from an incident response standpoint.

Kevin Simzer, EVP, Sales & Marketing in India, said

India market in particular is very technology savvy. We are going to take big initiatives largely driven in India partnering with big System Integrators [SI’s] who happen to be champions. We want to be part of the next wave of opportunity by investing in companies, through our USD 100 million VC arm on IOT and next generation landscape of applications that are there. We are very excited about developments around Blockchain, IOT, and other applications that might shake the future.

On the sidelines of the upcoming CLOUDSEC event in India, he further added

Hybrid Cloud would be the hottest of the hot topics of discussion during this years’ industry-wide consortium, with Ransomware too being one of the other hot topics. I think the event will allow the participants to get a good view of the world, and of what security ecosystem looks like.

Kevin Simzer, Kevin Simzer, EVP, Sales & Marketing, TrendMicro India

From a growth perspective, both globally and in APAC region, all three of Trend Micro’s major solution areas are witnessing significant growth: Endpoint, Hybrid Cloud security and Network. 50% of the business comes from Endpoint, and that is growing in mid- single digit. Hybrid Cloud security offering is growing at 45% plus, a quarter of their business; and the Network defense that forms quarter of our business is growing at 25%.

Nilesh Jain, Country Manager [India & SAARC], Trend Micro, said

India is completely a true reflection of what is happening globally. Today, the most interesting part in India is Azure and AWS, both of which have made significant investments in India. We have a dedicated team to address Azure and AWS business. Our focus is to be present whenever customers are opting for Azure and AWS.

To cater to the massive shortage of skills, and cyber security professionals in the industry, with reports suggesting 1 million cyber security positions open across the globe; Trend Micro has also setup a cyber-security training centre in Cairo, Egypt with plans to introduce in Brazil, Canada including India.

About Trend Micro

Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cyber-security solutions, helps to make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Our innovative solutions for consumers, businesses, and governments provide layered security for data centers, cloud environments, networks and endpoints. For more information, please visit TrendMicro

Uber has announced several rider and driver focused safety initiatives, as a part of its UberSAFE campaign, highlighting the company’s continued commitment to safety during rides on its platform. These include a Share Trip feature for drivers, which will allow them to share the details of trip, including route & ETA, in real time with family or friends.

Uber also launched an initiative to check and de-duplicate driver partner accounts on its platform, a step forward in the company’s efforts to ensure the right person is behind the wheel and rider’s have a safe and reliable experience while on a ride.

Driver ‘Share Trip’ Feature – Uber already offers a way for riders to share their trip status with their contacts, and so the Share My Trip feature now allows drivers to share the trip information with loved ones, without implicating the privacy of the rider or divulging personal information or specific drop off or pick up points.

It gives drivers a way to let their friends or family members know, not just their whereabouts, but also when to expect them home. This feature will be rolled out today in Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Lucknow and will be fully rolled out across India by end of this month.

Driver De-duplication – In addition to a comprehensive on-boarding process, background checks and initiatives like ‘Real Time ID Check’, driver de-duplication further helps eliminate account sharing incidents. Driver partner accounts could be duplicated due to one of the many reasons – drivers may have created new accounts because they may have forgotten their ids or phone numbers.  In some cases, the driver partner may have forgotten the password to the account and created a new one.

When it comes to the de-duplication drive, Uber’s technology will help identify the duplicate accounts and these accounts will be temporarily paused. Driver partners will receive an in-app message telling them why their accounts have been paused and will be asked to verify their accounts by logging in. Those accounts that are not verified will be deleted and barred from use in the future. This will ensure that only verified drivers have access to the Uber app, thereby ensuring a safe ride for the riders.

[L-R] Pradeep Parameswaran and Aurva Dalal at the event

Pradeep Parameswaran, Head of Central Operations, Uber India said

Whether you are behind the wheel or sitting in the back seat of the car, Uber’s commitment to safety for everyone is unwavering. We will continue to invest in technology and innovation to help ensure a safe, reliable trip from beginning to end. Every single day, it remains our endeavour to provide a seamless experience to our users, and the UberSAFE campaign is aimed at streamlining our efforts in this direction. Our safety features are unmatched and are uniquely dto provide a safe ride experience.

We strongly believe that ensuring a safe ride experience requires concerted efforts – riders, driver partners, Uber, law enforcement agencies, policy makers and the India Inc., must come together to make our cities safe and give citizens the freedom of mobility. With this in mind, we are working closely with the law enforcement agencies, NGOs and the Government, at both city and country level, through series of partnerships and programs that will help pre-empt and prevent any untoward incidents and keep our cities UberSAFE.

Apurva Dalal, Head of Engineering, Uber India, said

At Uber, being innovative means leading the way, leaning in to new technologies to improve safety in new ways. At every step, we are maximizing the usage of technology to bring transparency and accountability through features such as two-way feedback and ratings, telematics and GPS, among others, which we believe will have a positive impact on furthering trust and empathy between riders and driver partners. Today, we are excited to roll out Driver Share My Trip as part of a series of technology-focused safety features for driver partners in India and around the world to give drivers control and peace of mind while behind the wheel and feel UberSAFE.

Partnerships and Programs

  • Himmat App Integration – Uber partnered with Delhi Police to allow quick access to Himmat, a women safety mobile app, through the rider app
  • Dhaka Helpline – Uber integrated the nationwide emergency number 999 in its rider app to enhance rider safety in Dhaka
  • #DontDrinkAndDrive – Uber joined hands with the top bars in town to fight against drunk driving. Click here to find out more

Brigade REAP, an accelerator program with its key focus on the Real Estate sector, had its Handover Day of the second cohort at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Bengaluru. Launched in October 2016 with an intention to leverage technology which can help in delivering greater efficiencies to the Real Estate sector, 340 plus start-ups were evaluated for Cohort 2 and after two rounds of intense jury selection, 8 start-ups were inducted into the program.

These start-ups went through a rigorous four month mentorship and training program before being handed over to the real estate Industry for consumption of their products and services.

At the Handover Day of the 2nd cohort, these 8 start-ups presented their business to the audience which included eminent developers from the Real Estate Industry, Investors, HNI’s, other start-up founders and top management of global corporates. The representatives of the real estate industry participating in the program also spoke about technologies impacting real estate which indicated the improving intervention of technology into the Real Estate sector.

Speaking on this occasion, Ms. Nirupa Shankar, Director, Brigade REAP said

The first cohort of REAP saw success, with 3 of the 4 graduating start ups getting funded. The 4th start up  is currently in the process of closing their funding as well. Brigade  invested in QwikSpec as a lead investor along with other prominent investors. Snaptrude, which is also part of  Cohort 2, is another company Brigade will be investing in, alongside other developers. We feel the Real Estate industry is opening up to Tech adoption as potential for tech to improve operational efficiency is undeniable. Our role at REAP is to ensure that the start ups  curated during the program  are ready to tackle pressing issues of the industry.

The 8 start-ups that presented at the Handover Day are:

Aap Ka Painter – A house painting Solutions Company that delivers a hassle free experience by simplifying the path from inspiration to transformation of a dream home by leveraging art, science and technology. More information here

CRE Matrix – A data analytics platform that provides  information on accurate and trusted Lease & Sale transactions, Rental & Absorption projections, Asset level reports, micro-market analysis and Asset Valuation for commercial real estate. More information here

DesignSense – A Cloud based collaboration platform that helps Real Estate companies get RERA ready by connecting Project Management, Location and Engineering data with various stake holders and customers, enabling seamless flow of information between them. More information here

Natura – An Urban Plantscaping company that helps create easy to maintain green spaces resulting in breathing environments with reduced energy & Construction costs. More information here

Props {AMC} – A Real Estate Insights & Asset Monitoring Platform with a single, integrated, tech platform backed by robust data & information enables, seamless, transparent and complied transactions to monitor both Real Estate properties and securities. More information here

Snaptrude – An intelligence enabled 3D Rapid Modelling for Real Estate that solves the design problem by automating digital designing that transforms a hand drawn sketch to a 3D BIM model. More information here – A one stop B2B procurement marketplace for food & beverage businesses that helps HORECA (Hotel, Restaurant, Catering) industry in sourcing & procurement by listing products with negotiated B2B prices on their platform. More information here

ZeeSense – A Unified, Safety and Security Solution for gated community that solves the problem with an approach to Connect, Automate and Analyze. More information here

The REAP accelerator is now accepting applications for the third cohort and has received an overwhelming response so far. For more information, please visit Brigade REAP

About Brigade REAP

Brigade REAP is an accelerator program focused on technology start-ups whose end product/ service is applicable to Real Estate. Be it Residential, Commercial or Hospitality they have their hands on all the streams.The program is headed by John Kuruvilla, Chief Mentor for the program and Apul Nahata, Mentor-in-Residence. REAP has partnered with CISCO, Intel and Microsoft Accelerator as technology partners to make technology intervention better and also partnered with JLL, a professional investment management firm.

Internet of Things [IoT] has become one of the most popular terminologies, especially when the discussion is about creating an overall connected eco-system. As per a report by Gartner on IoT, there might be around 20 billion connected things by 2020. Things in IoT would not only be limited to smartphones, PC’s, etc. but also extend to objects like vending machines, connected cars, agriculture equipment’s, manufacturing equipment’s, etc.

Image Source- IIoT

IoT has been instrumental in the creation of new business models, transformation of businesses to the digital front and helped enterprises improve the overall operational efficiency. Though there has been a lot of discussion about the growing usage of IoT in the consumer devices, it is playing a very important role in the transformation of the Manufacturing industry, also called as Industrial IoT [IIoT].

In simple terms, Industrial IoT harnesses the power of data by amalgamating it with Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, M2M Communication, etc. thereby improving the overall productivity and quality in an industrial setup. From smart manufacturing to home automation, Industrial IoT is shaping enterprises for a connected future.

Indian enterprise Sasken has deep-rooted expertise in industrial analytics that enables smart services through data ingestion, data processing, and actionable insight generation. It has various offerings for enterprises looking to capitalize on the IIOT wave. Today, we have a chat with Ram Ramaseshan, Senior VP & Head, Automotive and Industrials Business Units, Sasken Technologies Limited about IIOT, trends & challenges in IIOT, how enterprises can leverage the power of IIOT, etc.

What are some of the drivers of growth of the Industrial IoT [IIOT] eco-system?

IoT has catalyzed the tapping of existing data faster and in significant volumes. IoT is one of the key factors that have pushed the adoption of digital transformation. When IoT technologies are applied to the manufacturing industry, we call it the Industrial Internet of Things. Industrial IoT continues to disrupt the way machines and human beings collaborate. Some of the drivers of growth are:

  • Availability of relevant and economical wireless connectivity technologies
  • Decreasing cost of hardware components such as Sensors, g/w and software components and in addition, cloud storage, analytical tools
  • Emergence of more robust IoT platform such as Thingworx, Predix, etc.
  • Standardization that would allow aggregating data for decision making

What are the use cases and industries where you see the massive traction for IIoT?

Increasing adoption of the Internet of Things presents manufacturers with tremendous business opportunities. And, through a connected factory setup, manufacturers can effectively gather and apply insights to monetize these opportunities. Today, the IoT-driven Industry 4.0 solutions are helping businesses to improve productivity, reduce operating costs, and enhance worker safety. Reduced cost of ownership is one of the major benefits linked to IIoT. Some areas where IIoT will see major traction are:

  • Logistics in general, especially high-value shipments
  • Security and surveillance systems
  • Asset Performance management for safety and reliability of equipment
  • Energy sector such as wind turbine, solar power plants, Oil & Gas monitoring, etc.
  • Remote management of assets

How can executives at industrial companies exploit the revenue-generating opportunities of the IIoT?

The adaptation of IIoT is not an alternative but an essential tool for survival and success in today’s time. Since technological advancement is directly proportional to enhanced profits, every firm, be it large or small, must work towards the achievement of complete digitization and must also empower their workers with the necessary skills. A few things executives in Industrials sector can keep in mind are:

  • Productivity/utilization of equipment can be increased thus increasing revenue
  • Implementation of IIoT can help reduce downtime thereby increasing revenue
  • Wastage can be reduced and quality can be improved
  • Allowing machines in sequence to be connected thereby moving to silos to better utilization of capital assets

What are some of the key challenges [be it technical, infrastructure, security, etc.] that your team encountered while implementing IoT/IIoT solutions?

The Industrials customer, today, has some really challenging needs that include decreasing operational cost, increasing productivity and quality, and ensuring the interoperability of information technology [IT] and operational technology [OT]. Some of the challenges that we at Sasken have helped solve in the recent past are:

  • Unavailability of a single tool/platform which can provide easy installation and maintenance of IIoT system
  • Right connectivity solutions as there is no one size that fits all
  • Convergence of IT & OT is difficult as the lifecycle of both technologies varies by default
  • Concern over security/cyber-attacks
  • Managing data coming from disparate systems becoming a deterrent to IoT implementation
Ram Ramaseshan, Senior VP and Head, Automotive and Industrials Business Units, Sasken Technologies Limited

Which are some of the emerging technologies with the rise of IoT and AI in the area of Industrial Automation?

The introduction of IoT in the Industrial space heralded the advent of expanding connectivity, more digitalization, utilizing cloud infrastructure, and newer business models. The implementation of IoT and AI in the Industrial landscape is giving rise to technologies such as machine vision, machine learning, sensor automation, mesh networking with short range communication protocols, and wearable technology such as the smart helmet.

From an enterprise customer’s perspective, how much savings/reduction in OPEX will an industrial enterprise get when shifting to an IIoT solution?

Market research shows that 86% of maintenance is reactive [too late] or scheduled [unnecessary] and typical maintenance practices have not changed much over the years. This could be attributed to the unavailability of tools robust and mature enough to fundamentally improve maintenance practices. At present, the most asset intensive industries follow scheduled [time/usage based] preventive maintenance practices. This practice still does not eliminate the possibility of unscheduled maintenance and catastrophic failures. So companies are trying to make their operations reliable and ensure optimal performance at a lower maintenance cost by predicting and preventing failures in a timely manner.

As per The International Society of Automation:

  • 5% of plant production is lost annually due to unplanned downtime
  • $647 billion is lost globally by manufacturers across all industry segments

Being able to predict the health of an asset on a continuous basis and avoiding the OPEX spent on regularly scheduled maintenance can bring down the OPEX by as much as 50-70%. E.g. being able to predict the health of a rolling stock can avoid bringing the rolling stock back to the yard for regularly scheduled services and this can result in significant cost savings to the rail services as it can now run those many more trips.

What is the role of wearable technologies, AI, machine learning, etc. in shaping up the entire IoT industry [be it IoT or IIoT]?

We see them as the important building blocks for the realization of IoT/IIoT for:

  • Safety
  • Remote management of assets
  • Collaboration for decision making
  • Intelligent Alerts and Events management
  • Condition based monitoring, in its true sense

are some of the applications we see being realized through these technologies.

Who are some of the customers, industry partners of Sasken for its IIoT business?

Some customer problems that Sasken is trying to solve include enabling legacy controllers by ensuring compatibility at the shop-floor and control-level, asset management, and using AR and virtual reality (VR) to make field service operators more effective and efficient. These are complex problems and require reliable and proven partnerships.

Sasken has partnered with the following companies to solve such complex business challenges:

  • PTC ThingWorx
  • Intel
  • Qualcomm
  • TI
  • Smartrac
  • QNX

Can you share some thoughts about Digital India [particularly Housing For All] and what are the challenges if ‘Smart Housing’ needs to go mainstream?

Digital technologies including smart devices [e.g. smartphones and wearable devices] and cloud computing applications have emerged as catalysts for rapid economic growth and consumer empowerment across the globe. The emergence of smart devices is the key to the vision of a Digital India. The Indian government envisions transforming our nation and creating opportunities for all citizens by harnessing digital technologies and to empower every citizen with access to digital services, knowledge, and information. Mobility, Analytics, and Cloud are the foundations that will enable the Digital India visions of providing ‘e-governance and services on demand’ and ‘digitally empowering citizens’ and support the social inclusion schemes being launched by the government. Here IIoT can play a major role in the government’s Digital India vision by digitizing the government initiative and tracking systems.

The Andhra Pradesh Government’s dashboard is a good example of what we can achieve with the implementation of IIoT. This will enable government schemes to become more transparent thereby reducing spillage and corruption. With respect to Housing for All, smart lighting, drinking water, drainage systems, and security can be managed much better through IIoT implementations. The wastage of electricity and water can be monitored and prevented through smart metering and lighting solutions for electricity and water.

What are some of the data security measures and energy efficiencies within smart building and home automation services?

Smart Homes will provide increased flexibility of energy consumption with smart energy management. The user will be able to control HVAC and lighting remotely from his smartphone. This will result in reducing the load on electrical grids thus bringing down the need to use expensive generators.

The typical challenges continue to be security of the data and information, interoperability issues, complex systems trying to talk to each other, evolving standards, etc. More importantly, the world is still not a full-fledged connected place; there are infrastructure issues which have to be fixed first for IoT to become a reality. The good news is that the whole industry is working towards addressing these aspects.

How important is a requirement for Open architecture, shared platforms, etc. for the growth of the entire IoT/IIoT eco-system?

One of the challenges in implementing IIoT faster is the non- interoperability between industrial devices from multiple vendors. In order to make the implementation easier for end users, it is important to have an open architecture, shared platform, etc. in the IIoT eco system. This will help the existence of multiple vendors and healthy competition thereby enabling customers to achieve better value.

We thank Ram Ramaseshan for sharing his insights with our readers. If you have any questions for Ram about IIOT, How your startup/enterprise can leverage capabilities of IIOT, etc. please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.