Mumbai: Is your company on the right digital path? How can you make your company embrace the digital future? And how can data analytics and the Internet of Things help executives in this process? These were some of the questions that consultants, industry experts and senior executives from sectors including banking, automobiles, healthcare and manufacturing attempted to address during their keynotes and panel discussions which were part of the fourth edition of the Mint Enterprise Technology Summit that was held on 25 November in Mumbai. We present some highlights from the summit.
‘WE SEE IoT AS AUGMENTING INTELLIGENCE’
Industries across the board can derive significant benefits by readying themselves for the Internet of Things (IoT) world and tapping into the sensor-generated data along with other enterprise data. The IoT panel, which was moderated by Leslie D’Monte, national technology editor, Mint, comprised Rajesh Batra, vice-president (IT) at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital; Ajit Kumar, partner at Deloitte; Jaspreet Bindra, senior vice-president (digital transformation and e-commerce) at Mahindra Group; and Sudip Mazumdar, head (digital and innovation) at KEC International Ltd.
Healthcare is an emerging area in India. How do you see IoT usage in this sector?
Batra: Cloud and associated technologies are helping a lot in bringing costs down in IT. The first attempt by our hospital in IoT was to get the ambulance ready. We put a satellite dish for communication because we did not have 2G, 3G or 4G data technologies at that time. The next attempt we made was using telepresence. After that, we improved our network and control centres which do monitoring of patients 24×7. The biggest challenge we face today is integrating everything together. We have all the devices embedded with sensors but the challenge is that they are all evolving. Another challenge is that the doctors and the whole ecosystem are still evolving, because with IoT, a huge amount of data is being thrust on them. But going forward, not just intensive care, but after care, home care and other segments will also benefit from IoT.
How are you leveraging IoT in the diverse businesses of the Mahindra Group?
Bindra: The real stuff in IoT happens behind the scenes, which is in operations and processes. At Mahindra, we are not doing the sexy part of IoT like coffee makers switching themselves on. For instance, there’s DiGiSense in which almost all our vehicles are going to be connected, and we are working with GE on Predix—their IoT platform. Through this, we can save as much as 35% of costs in our manufacturing plants. In real estate, we have World Cities, which are integrated cities with office, retail, entertainment, etc., and we are using IoT in these townships. At the intersection of IoT and blockchain, we are using smart contracts in logistics and supply chain. And in agriculture, we have all kinds of sensors in the soil for measuring moisture, nitrogen, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. to figure out what crop should be put next, when to harvest, etc.
How is IoT being implemented in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) industry?
Mazumdar: The EPC and manufacturing industries have traditionally been backward in tech usage. For example, the technology for measuring the weight of steel rods has not changed in the last 50 years. Nevertheless, we have started the IoT journey in our own way. We are putting a lot of sensors into our machines and collecting millions of datapoints. By analysing the data and how it is used on the shop floor, we are trying to change how work is done in our factories.
Many people say IoT is in its infancy in terms of maturity. How do you as a consultant look at it?
Kumar: There is a lot of optimism as well as scepticism in IoT. There is a lot sci-fi like stuff with IoT and then there are the bare-bones. I think IoT has largely been about sensors but it no longer is. If you rewind 5-10 years ago, we were trying to put sensors into stuff. We think IoT is no longer about sensing but much more about doing. So this shift means it is no longer about gathering the data but it is more about how you act on that data and form the close loop communication in order to sense more and act more. We see IoT as augmenting intelligence.
IoT is about application of data gathered through sensors to enable action to augment intelligence. But IoT is complicated, and not many are seeing returns on investment.
ANALYTICS ALLOWS YOU TO OFFER DIFFERENT STIMULUS: KUSHE BAHL
Digital is “such a big deal today” because of its business impact, said Kushe Bahl, leader of digital practice and partner at McKinsey & Co., when delivering the first keynote.
“There is business value in digital only because of two things—one, everyone is connected, and two, we have the ability to collect data from those connected humans or machines, and to store, process and derive interesting insights from that data,” he added.
A business can stimulate a customer or an employee with a question, or with a stimulus to action—a 10% discount, for instance. Such a stimulus, according to Bahl, can help a company gain an edge over its competitors.
Kushe Bahl, leader of digital practice and partner at McKinsey & Co. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
Bahl spoke about a new paradigm in business, one that doesn’t work on designing everything to serve the needs of 80% of customers or employees but which is more personalized.
“Analytics now allows you to design a different little offering or stimulus for every customer,” he said.
According to Bahl, companies are at different stages of evolution: stage 1, wherein they have realized the importance of digital and are doing some experiments; stage 2, in which they have seen significant business impact; stage 3, where companies have found a systematic way to do digital innovation; and stage 4, wherein they have achieved digital nirvana.
He confessed, though, that he is yet to see any companies in this final stage.
SOME SECTORS JUST WAKING UP TO THE POWER OF DIGITAL: ANANT BHAGWATI
Most of what I say will be provocative,” is how Anant Bhagwati, partner at Bain and Co., began his keynote. Conceding there are opportunities in digital, he said that the whole “digital transformation” spectacle is marred by a great risk of over-promise and under-delivery.
Bhagwati said what is lacking is how digital can be used to change and transform the core competitiveness of a company—rather than for the company to go on adopting new technologies such as Internet of Things as a matter of routine.
In the next five years, he said, companies in sectors such as healthcare, EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) and machinery will potentially adopt digital at a rate that is twice or more than that of retail, banking and technology companies.
Anant Bhagwati, partner at Bain & Co. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
“This is because industrial and healthcare companies are only now waking up to the transformative power of digital,” he said.
Bhagwati said it is customer-centricity rather than digital-centricity that will work for most companies in these sectors. He also brushed aside the contention that numerous, tiny experiments in digital are useful in prepping an organization for digital.
“Doing a thousand experiments is a recipe for disaster: in digital, the complexity is not at the app layer; it is at the data layer. And if the data layer and metadata layer are not sorted, you will be frustrated by the time you reach the ‘scaling up’ point.”
“So, being super clear on the three or four things you are betting your house on is important,” he concluded.