From the Editor’s Desk: February 2020


Dear Reader

Last month, I spoke about the unstoppable proliferation of IoT devices into our daily lives and their rapid usage in homes and businesses for automation, convenience, efficiency, and security amongst their various other applications. I also spoke about the cyber security measures that system integrators need to build into their installed systems so that the security systems do not themselves become the gateways for criminal intrusion.

With the fast moving application of IoT enabled devices one finds that the products based on such technologies are becoming available in the form of kits and sold from ecommerce platforms as Do-it-Yourself (DIY) systems. While DIY is an established phenomenon in the developed world, it is still in a nascent stage in India. However, India has a huge potential for DIY mainly due to its rapidly growing economy and surging demand for urban housing. A study by a professor at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore indicates that the younger households tend to be more active DIYers compared to those households which are in later stages of their life. Households which have recently moved to a new place also exhibit similar characteristics. Families with a skilled manual trade background are more amenable to the DIY concept. Similarly, families with more adults and those who own the home take up DIY projects more seriously.

The study has also shown that people with higher education and higher income levels are more likely to rely on outside help. This is perhaps one big reason that high-end and complex electronic protection systems comprising of intrusion & fire detection and video surveillance as its primary components are unlikely to feature in the Indian DIY market for a long long time, as it has been observed that it is usually the well off and educated class which typically invests in automated home security systems, as they perceive the risks associated with affluence in a developing country.

As consumers prefer integrated systems over disparate ones, a system integration engineer today also needs a broad range of skills and is likely to be defined more by the breadth of his knowledge. These skills are likely to include software, systems and enterprise architecture, hardware engineering, interface protocols, data management, in addition to general problem solving and communication skills. It is likely that the problems to be solved have not been confronted before, except in the broadest sense. They are likely to include new and challenging applications where the system integration engineer is required to “pull it all together”, from his self-acquired knowledge and experience.

It is not only the suppliers who need to professionalise if they wish to remain relevant, even customers will have to change, become aware and serious about their project requirements and expectations from the SI and from the project as a whole. Security Consultants would also have to adopt a risk based approach while designing projects and writing specifications that clearly define the deliverables to the client, list the scope and the responsibility of the SI. The SIs on their part need to become aware of the client expectations and if they see a bottleneck or challenges in meeting them, they must be able to discuss them intelligently so as to reach a practical meeting point between all stakeholders, failing which, they should have the courage to refuse business and walk away!

Lastly, corporate customers also need to have qualified people on site to maintain their systems, they need to have maintenance policies, training programs, refresher courses, and procedures that are documented and updated on an ongoing basis. If one doesn’t have the skills in-house, they should outsource this to professional organisations to perform the tasks. Equipment monitoring and predictive analysis are the cornerstones of reliability-centered asset healthcare.

Studies have proven that corrective maintenance is ten times more expensive than predictive maintenance. Whether it’s the cost of unplanned downtime and the firefighting that is done to fix the problem or it’s the cost of planned, but unnecessary, time-based maintenance, the financial implications of the practice you use are undeniable.

Till we meet next month,

Cheers, Stay Safe and Keep Others Safe.

G B Singh
Group Editor
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