Wipro’s wearable medical device.
Wipro’s wearable medical device.

IT firms warm up to Internet of Things

Six big IT services providers are using IoT applications, many of these in partnerships with start-ups too, to help clients

Indian information technology (IT) services providers still earn a major part of their revenue from traditional businesses like application, development and maintenance, and infrastructure management. Over the last couple of years, though, they have begun clubbing social media, mobility, analytics and cloud technologies, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications with traditional solutions to provide clients more value and stay relevant in a digital age. Their disruptive technology solutions include a wearable foetal-maternal monitoring device, connected car solution that analyses driver behaviour to provide usage-based insurance, information, entertainment and location services, and medical instruments that collate and analyse data from instruments deployed in clinics. Here’s a glimpse of how six big IT services providers are using IoT applications, many of these in partnerships with start-ups too, to help clients.

Connected car solution

Infosys Ltd, India’s second largest IT services provider, which signed a four-year managed services application management contract with Toyota Motor Europe in October 2013, also provides a connected car solution to the auto maker that analyses driver behaviour, and provides usage-based insurance, infotainment, distraction prevention and identification, and location services.

Infosys also has a Smart Shop Assistant that enables sales executives carry out end-to-end shopping in a retail store using a hand-held device. This solution can be used by retailers as a key differentiator in their multi-channel retailing strategy. It is also collaborating with SMART Enterprise—a unit of SMART Communications Inc., a wireless provider in the Philippines—to develop industry solutions in the areas of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and the so-called Internet of Everything, said an Infosys spokesperson.

“Infosys partnered with a global diabetes management firm to develop a diabetes data management system that could be used by patients to upload their sugar and carbohydrate intake, which would be monitored by healthcare professionals to provide guidance," said the spokesperson. The product works on multiple platforms and was released in multiple languages across countries. In addition, Infosys’s Digital Smart Home Gateway links multiple home devices, enabling consumers to manage them from a Wi-Fi console, smartphone or remotely via the Internet.

Smart sensor networks

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), India’s largest IT services provider, has an innovation lab and a Tata Research Development and Design Centre that work jointly to provide advanced systems engineering methodologies, predictive analytics, remote monitoring and embedded printer solutions using new technologies, said a TCS spokesperson.

The company also has a TCS Connected Universe Platform, which helps firms develop, deploy and administer IoT and M2M software applications.

TCS has successfully deployed pilot offerings of these services in the transport, energy and healthcare industry, said the spokesperson.

Toshiba Software (India) Pvt. Ltd is one such company to use this solution to develop the Toshiba Smart Card.

TCS also has a proprietary IoT platform for sensor networks, alliances with chip makers, module manufacturers, M2M platform providers and communication service providers to help customers quickly build vertical IoT solutions and services, the TCS spokesperson said.

Moreover, the cyber-physical systems research group in the company primarily focuses on making the physical infrastructure for buildings, transportation, energy, water and healthcare intelligent through smart adoption of technologies related to IoT.

Wireless health devices

Wipro Ltd has a health monitoring solution called Wipro Assure Health that improves affordable patient care through wearable devices, and a cloud-based clinical decision support system.

An extension of this is the Wipro Assure Health Maternity Care Solution, which helps customers by enabling management of high-risk pregnancies with remote assessment of the foetus and the mother. The solution includes a small wearable wireless foetal-maternal monitoring device that can be accessed on a mobile device since it uses the cloud. It can be used for antenatal care, and continuous monitoring during labour and delivery. Some of the customers for this solution include Fortis Hospitals and Milann—The fertility clinic, according to a Wipro spokesperson.

The firm’s retail IoT team, the spokesperson said, has helped design a five-year technology road map to address the business issues plaguing the point of sale systems for a leading oil and lubes firm with over 1,500-plus stores.

Wipro has also deployed a service life cycle management solution involving machine data capturing, integration and advanced analytics for a global construction equipment manufacturer and enabled 16,000-plus machines that can capture and communicate vital data pertaining to health, usage, performance and security.

Providing fleet support

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., through its Code Halos solution, helps companies set up centres of excellence to gain competitive advantage and benefits of early or innovative adoption, said a company spokesperson.

Some of these emerging areas include cloud, mobile, high performance computing, data visualization, IoT and machine learning. For example, Cognizant developed a solution that integrates sensors on-board to capture various data points around driving for a fleet car operator who was looking to optimize operations and improve service quality. A mobile app aggregates information such as maintenance and routes to give fleet managers a consolidated view of each vehicle. The data captured by sensors is actively tracked through the mobile app. The app provides fleet managers and drivers with information about driving behaviour and vehicle maintenance. This data is uploaded to the cloud using mobile networks, allowing fleet managers access to the information from anywhere.

Applying analytics to the information enables fleet managers to continuously optimize operations.

“This has helped significantly improve fleet utilization, while reducing maintenance costs and fuel expenses," said the Cognizant spokesperson.

Reducing launch cycles

HCL Technologies Ltd offers M2M solutions and under its Smart Products and Services (SPS) unit, also offers a connected product and services solution that can reduce the launch cycle of smart products “by up to 70%, besides providing secure communication between devices and services through cloud storage of data and remote monitoring of these systems", said to a company spokesperson.

The company also helps providers of medical instruments to collate and analyse data from instruments deployed in clinics across multiple geographic regions using its SPS data analytics solutions.

HCL Technologies has also deployed a smart grid solution for a large domestic power distribution agency. This entailed setting up an electricity network that could intelligently integrate generators and consumers to balance supply and demand.

“Yet another example of IoT at work was when HCL’s engineering and research and development services business unit used its Agora Services Platform to deliver ‘on demand’ performance reporting and fault management product for a US-based MNC that develops and sells IT management software. The company reported a 60% reduction in effort and cost after using the Agora platform," said the spokesperson.

Agora is HCL Technologies’ proprietary solution that provides complete metering, billing and monitoring solutions for software provided as a service.

Farm-to-fork offering

Tech Mahindra Ltd has indigenous device testing labs, certified by Qualcomm Inc., for testing devices, prototyping, assembly and manufacturing, custom application building and smart grid data capture in collaboration with several equipment and solution providers, according a Tech Mahindra spokesperson. The company also offers smart parking, smart street lighting and smart vehicle diagnostics for commercial vehicles.

On 18 September, Tech Mahindra announced a partnership with Bosch Software Innovations GmbH to create an IoT ecosystem. This will develop proof of concepts and solutions that will focus on developing connected solutions for smart cities, enterprises and smart homes.

Tech Mahindra’s IoT solutions include a farm-to-fork solution, which integrates the power of telematics, sensors and telecom technologies to monitor the temperature of fresh produce during transit, provide better inventory management and reduce supply-chain cost. “Tech Mahindra has showcased and implemented this solution for multinational companies like Nestle SA, Dole Food Co. Inc., Private Label Manufacturers Association and Mobile World Congress," said the spokesperson.

Other IoT applications include a remote patient monitoring solution that enables monitoring of patients outside of conventional clinical settings with in-built algorithms, alerts and multilingual capability. Benefits include early detection of problems, lowered healthcare delivery costs, and reduced medical emergencies and hospital admissions. “The solution has been implemented for a US company operating in India," the spokesperson added.

HIGHLIGHTS

n While there is no estimate of IoT’s contribution to the overall revenue of traditional IT services companies, since the sector is in its infancy, IoT revenue is pegged at 2-3% of the overall digital technologies pie for Indian IT services companies, which itself is only around 5-10% of the total revenue for most IT services providers, according to industry estimates.

n The Indian government is working on a plan to create a $15 billion IoT industry by 2020, leading to an increase in the number of connected devices from around 200 million to over 2.7 billion by 2020, according to an October draft IoT policy document.

n Accenture Plc predicts that 69% of consumers will own an in-home IoT device by 2019.

n Researcher International Data Corp. estimates IoT to be a $8.9 trillion industry by 2020.

n Research firm Gartner Inc. says IoT will include 26 billion units installed by 2020.

n Gartner also states that IoT product and services suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion, of which more than 80% will be derived from services, by 2020.

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