India Inc slow to embrace IIoT, finds survey

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Indian businesses seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach towards the adoption of industrial internet of things (IIoT), according to a recent report by Osborne Clarke. The report surveyed 40 senior executives in manufacturing, manufacturing services, logistics and supply chain-related companies in Asia on their readiness to adopt IIoT.

In India, the IIoT revolution is being driven primarily by the logistics sector, which has benefited from the implementation of the goods and services tax that has helped streamline and consolidate warehousing operations, and by the government’s digital initiatives such as the electronic waybill system, which has further incentivized companies to automate their operations, the report said.

Indian companies seem to expect faster return from technology investments than Chinese businesses, said Adrian Bott, Foreign Legal Consultant at Osborne Clarke. “Investment horizons (that is, as to when returns would be delivered) were shorter than those apparent in China.”

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Adrian Bott

Indian logistics company Safexpress, for example, seemed to prefer technology that made immediate sense (largely in terms of return on investment) to grander plans for more fundamental or sweeping changes, or at the more “experimental” end of the IIoT technologies spectrum, Bott said.

The threat of cyberattacks is among the reasons Indian businesses are apprehensive about embracing IIoT. Companies are deeply concerned with securing trade secrets and protecting their proprietary information.

“Cybersecurity issues stem from sending data to and from the cloud and, as mentioned in the report, one of the key means currently available for minimizing this exposure is to implement edge computing,” said Bott.

“But edge computing can only take you so far before you need to interact with the cloud, so secure IT architecture and state-of-the-art encryption technologies remain very important for these companies.”

While the treatment of data as a commercial asset has not taken off in a big way in India as yet, there has been more awareness in the recent past of the economic value of this data, as well as the potential to misuse it.

This has seen an ongoing effort by authorities to address gaps in the data-protection regime, noted Vikram Jeet Singh, a partner at BTG Legal, a Mumbai-based relationship firm of Osborne Clarke.

“Regulations typically lag behind innovation … IIoT regulations in India are fragmented at the moment, and no current code address all the issues comprehensively,” said Singh.

“Some proposed laws will impact elements that are crucial to IIoT, such as the new privacy law, the e-commerce policy as well as the proposed consumer law that is expected to pass after the elections,” Singh added.