Cisco organized its analyst day "Engage 2014" at its Bangalore campus on 7th May 2014. Demos of working applications such as Digital Bank, flexible IT campus, intelligent WAN and a working model of IoT (Internet of Things) for a pharmaceutical factory gave a feel of what to expect from Cisco. IoT solutions today are one way flow of information – sensors feeding key machine parameters to a central dashboard with some intelligence such as dynamic variable costing etc., Future versions could involve two way communication to control the equipment, subject to OEM constraints.
Cisco estimates the market for IoT to be $18 billion conservatively in the Indian market, from Supply Chain and Logistics, Asset Utilization, Employee productivity, Customer Experience and Innovation. Supply Chain is the biggest bucket with more than $8 billion impact, in areas such as Fleet management for mines and captive power plants to prevent pilferage of coal for example from the port to the power plant. The mass of coal will not be monitored just at the start and end but throughout the route. Other parameters such as the path taken, time, vehicle parameters etc can be monitored. Commercial auto OEMs are looking at integrating these sensors as a built-in option in the vehicle. Safety and regulation is another area in factories where IoT can help in hazardous environments - ongoing monitoring of the work place parameters for a worker and alarms when the thresholds are crossed, avoiding an untrained operator from entering a special equipment zone etc.,
It is ironical that in some cases, the technology is a few years ahead of what some customers expect today for their operations because of which the benefits of IoT may not be fully realized. Cisco's strategy to develop the partner ecosystem is important in this context. IT Service providers are sometimes one step closer to the business and they would be able to help the customers fully exploit the IoT implementation and leverage the capability it provides. Interoperability standards across industries and geographies become important to avoid a situation where individual players develop their unique M2M/IoT solutions and after a period of time, we end up with islands of connected machines. IoT is a confluence of the technologies and capabilities in Cisco and it will be interesting to see its implementation for impactful solutions solving problems for the industry and the society at large in a developing economy like India.