The Backbone Of Indian Economy Information Technology Essay

Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy as roughly 70-75% of the population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture. The Indian economic growth is directly proportional to the agriculture industry growth. The agriculture growth has been stagnant in India and needs a technology revolution to be able to meet the growing population requirements of the country. Though, urban India has information technology in its reach, rural population is still to benefit from Information Technology especially in the agriculture sector. This is where AgriWare Networks comes in and provide solutions that can help fight this major concern.

There are various problems that Indian farmers face in day-to-day farming activities. Right now, there are forums for farmers that provide help in such matters but they are very slow in processing. AgriWare Networks provides solutions to farmers for activities like identifying the parts in the farm affected by pests, ground water management, increasing productivity of crops by analyzing soil nutrient content, etc. which will help them to plan their crop activities and will also lead to increase the productivity of crops.

This is the very first service that brings IT at the farmer’s land. AgriWare Networks installs the wireless sensor nodes on the land of a farmer and wires up the necessary infrastructure to make this system work. Once the nodes have been installed, the crops can be monitored using the software installed on the server by the farmer himself. The software is designed in such a way that even illiterate farmers can learn using it without any difficulty. Since the results are pictorial, they are easy to interpret to take appropriate actions.

Initially this service will be available to farmers of nearby states of Delhi as AgriWare is a Delhi-based company. The farmers will experience a great relief due to high levels of predictability of the crop. This will also enable them to plan their future investments based on the income from the crop. This service when deployed on a large scale can help the country to achieve better results in the annual GDP.

3.0 Industry Analysis

3.1 Future Outlook and Trends

Information Technology (IT) in agriculture has been attracting a lot of attention in the past few years and is likely to remain lucrative for many years to come. The rapid changes and downward trend in prices in various components of IT makes it feasible to target a large scale IT penetration into rural India. The Indian farmer requires timely and reliable sources of information for taking decisions. As weather changes, the farmer makes decisions on irrigation, applying fertilizers etc. Usually these decisions are based on one’s experience or intuition which may be unreliable. With sensor networks, the decisions can be made near optimal as the information provided is based on the actual situation of the farms.

Wireless technology is one of the hottest sectors in the Information Technology market. Because of the portability, affordability and reliability of the wireless sensor data, this technology will become the future trend in the Indian agriculture in coming years.

Indian agriculture sector needs a technology revolution to become at par with the world’s best crop productivity levels. Though India produces a lot of crops but the productivity per ha is low compared to the rest of the world. AgriWare Networks intends to use Wireless Sensor Networks, which has not been explored in greater depths. The competitive edge that WSN provides over other technology is that they can be tailor made to suit a farmer’s needs. The R&D department will be continuously working on developing innovative techniques based on the customer’s feedback to improve the value of services in the long run.

3.2 Main competitors

TBD

3.3 Market Segmentation

AgriWare Networks will focus majorly on three customer groups. These are the government of India, Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and agricultural researchers.

Government of India

The agricultural practices in India have been traditional and cumbersome. Very low percentage of the farmers is capable of employing modern technologies due to the high cost of equipments. Majority of the farmers seek help from the government to buy such equipments. Hence, AgriWare Networks considers the government of India as a major target customer which already has bonds with the farmers. It plans to sign contract with the government to install the wireless sensor network in the farms.

Non Government Organizations (NGO)

There are a lot of NGOs who reach out to farmers to help them on how crop yields can be improved. They educate the farmers of the latest technology being used to decrease crop/soil damage. They also have a better reach to the resource-poor farmer and therefore AgriWare Networks considers them an excellent customer.

Agricultural Scientists

As wireless sensor network is a topic which is being extensively explored by researchers worldwide, its applications in agriculture have become a major research area. This is the reason that AgriWare Networks considers the agriculture scientists to be their important customers who may want to monitor crops for improving yield or developing hybrids of various crops using this technology.

Others

We also consider individual farmers who sustain well and are able to afford such technology to deploy the wireless sensor network in their farms. This category also includes other customers who directly approach AgriWare Networks with their specific requirements and the company can help them out according to their needs.

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3.4 Industry forecast

Currently, IT in Indian agriculture is a booming market. The competitive edge that WSN provides over other technology is that they can be tailor made to suit a farmer’s needs. The R&D department will be continuously working on developing new techniques based on the customers’ feedback to improve the value of services in the long run. AgriWare Networks foresee their strengths as the ability to provide customers with more than satisfactory results and hence capture the market steadily. This will be accomplished by investing continuously in the research to explore existing problem areas and coming up with reliable and scalable solutions.

4.0 Description of Venture

4.1 Product

AgriWare Networks offers a wireless sensor network infrastructure to be deployed in the farms. Depending on the size of the farm and the variability of various parameters like soil moisture, temperature, humidity and luminous intensity from point to point, the number of sensor nodes to be setup can be decided. All the sensor nodes send the collected data to a central base station where the activities in the farm are monitored and appropriate actions are taken. The nodes have sensors to sense the above mentioned parameters, RFID tagging facility to be incorporated in future. The software is developed keeping in mind the literacy level of the farmers as the end users. It will have an easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) with touch screen interface, so that farmers can operate the system without third party intervention after the installation of the system.

The features provided by the software will include a menu of different parameters being monitored by the system. By touching an easily differentiable icon of the parameter, a map of the farm will be presented showing the variation of that parameter. For example – soil moisture content of the whole farm will be represented on a map with blue regions with enough water content, red region for dry areas and green region for moderate water content. Depending on the nutrient content of the soil, an icon familiar to the farmer will be shown representing the type of fertilizer to be applied.

4.2 Service

The service provided by AgriWare Networks includes installation of the entire network system, deployment of nodes in the farm and software to interpret the collected data so that meaningful action can be carried out. AgriWare Networks will also provide support for hardware and software maintenance on a subscription basis described in the pricing strategy section.

4.3 Size of business

Initially AgriWare Networks plans to sell the services to the government that will be deployed by the farmers of a few neighbouring villages. AgriWare Networks is determined to enhance its services based on the feedback from the farmers and surveying other potential crop problems. In a span of 2 years, AgriWare Networks expects to make its services available to at least 6-7 states of India and expects significant improvement in the crop production because of the deployment. This venture will steadily move to capture the countrywide market.

In a span of three years AgriWare networks plans to expand its sales offices to major cities for the ease of marketing and distribution. This is important to understand the customer requirements of that area and deliver services capable of meeting them. The research, development and maintenance staff will continue to grow as we penetrate into the Indian market.

4.4 Competitive Advantage

AgriWare Networks is the first company in India to offer WSN solution for agricultural purposes. There is another group which is exploring WSN technology for agriculture but they are currently in the research phase. This gives AgriWare Networks tremendous opportunity to gain a significant market share while other companies peep into the market. Another competitive edge that WSN provides over any other technology is that they can be tailor made to suit a farmers need. The AgriWare Networks’ R&D staff is knowledgeable, self-motivated and passionate to cater to the customer needs in an efficient and timely manner. As its customers provide feedback, AgriWare Networks will continuously strive to bring the latest technology in its hardware and software solutions to remain competitive in this arena.

5.0 Milestones

5.1 Prototype Design

The hardware team will work on the prototype design for the hardware from the starting of year one and the estimated time of completion is two months. This phase will require 2 hardware engineers.

5.2 Software Development

The software team will work on developing the necessary software to be run on the sensor nodes and the central base station based on the system requirements. This phase will start from in the first month of year one and estimated time of completion is three months. This phase will require 2 software engineers.

5.3 Testing and Bug Fixing

The combined testing of the hardware and software on prototypes will start from the beginning of fourth month of year one and shall continue for two months. During this phase, the hardware and software teams will do the testing and bug fixing.

5.4 Manufacturing

After the testing is completed, the final hardware will go in for the manufacturing process and the first batch is expected to be ready in two months.

5.5 Marketing

While the hardware is getting manufactured, the sales and marketing team will actively take on promoting the product by organizing demonstrations of the prototype and create a market before the final release. The initial marketing is expected to start from the sixth month of year one. The advance bookings will also be done in this phase.

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5.6 Product Release

The product release is targeted to take place in the ninth month of year one.

6.0 Development and Production

AgriWare Networks provides wireless sensor network infrastructure in the farms. The issues involved in the production and development of the sensor nodes are discussed in this section

6.1 Production and Service Process

AgriWare Networks provides the layout design of the sensor nodes to a third party and the manufacturing is done by a third party such as IBM. The layout design involves deciding the location of various sensors on the board which may become an important issue if not taken care of. For example, the temperature sensor must be placed at the edge of the board so that it picks up ambiance temperature rather than the heat generated by the other components on board.

The various sensors attached in the node collects data and send the data to the base station through intermediate nodes via wireless links. Only the nodes near to the base station send the data directly. This is done to save the power consumed in transferring data over long distances. Also, the survey reveals that it is sufficient to collect data at an interval of 3 min during daytime and 10-15 min during night time due to less activity in the latter case. The nodes are deployed at a distance of 10 m from each other and at a height of 1.5 m from the ground so that the wireless range is not affected when the crops are fully grown. Since the sensor nodes will be deployed in open farms with ample amount of available solar energy, we include solar cells in the node and thus providing backup to the battery powered cells.

6.2 Quality Control System

AgriWare Networks plans to build prototypes of the hardware to ensure the sensor nodes have no major issues. The testing will be done in a small nursery plant by deploying nodes at various points. Stress testing of the hardware will be performed in order to prove that this system is usable. The prototype network system will also be tested to ensure that the deployed nodes can survive the harsh conditions in the farms and achieve customer satisfaction. Software will be continuously enhanced to rectify any bugs that are reported during the testing phase.

6.3 Human resources

Development and Testing phase:

In the development and testing phase, we needed the following personnel:

2 Hardware Engineer for designing layout and placement of various components on the board.

2 Software Engineer for developing software to be run on the nodes and the central base station.

Deployment and Marketing phase:

2 Marketing Personnel to reach out the third party manufacturers and clients.

1 Hardware Engineer to explore innovative design solutions from customer feedback.

1 Software Engineer to fix bugs and maintain the software.

7.0 Marketing

7.1 Pricing strategy

AgriWare Networks will provide a lot of options to the customers while selling the product. The customer can choose to have the entire system installed in an area as large as 25 ha or as small as 1 ha. The entire system consists of sensor nodes, monitoring server and the software. With this package AgriWare Networks offers initially 1 year of maintenance free of cost to attract the customers.

The pricing strategy for all the components of the entire system is as follows:

   

As it is clear that the cost of monitoring server, software and installation would remain the same irrespective of the size of the farm, AgriWare Networks would recommend a group of farmers to install this system collectively. This will not only utilize the server to its maximum capacity but also make the system affordable to the entire group. This is another strategy AgriWare Networks will use to attract small farmers.

The maintenance support is renewable and the pricing is as follows:

This strategy of heavy discounts is to attract farmers to renew their software for additional features and get help from AgriWare Networks free of cost in case of trouble. Otherwise, if the customer chooses not to have maintenance support and requires on the fly help, the charges applicable would be 250 for every case raised.

7.2 Promotion Strategy

AgriWare Networks is based in New Delhi, the capital of India and the place has a lot of active NGOs around. Also, the central government ministers are based in New Delhi. To promote the product, AgriWare Networks will conduct several seminars and demonstrations inviting Government officials, NGOs and Researchers. The demos will show that the product can be made-to-order to focus on different problems e.g. areas which demand better water management.

AgriWare Networks will also demonstrate its system to various state governments which have the major area under cultivation like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh etc. All these states surround New Delhi which also makes it easier for the sales team to go to these states and hold demonstrations and presentations in front of the responsible ministers to promote the product.

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AgriWare Networks will also use radio advertisements especially during program focusing on agriculture like “Krishi Vikas” to attract farmers with huge landholdings and self-capability to afford the system. As televisions are within a very good reach of the rural population, AgriWare Networks will also use television advertisements to attract the customers.

To target farmers with small landholdings, AgriWare Networks will encourage buying the product collectively. Since this is a huge capital investment for the farmers AgriWare Networks will also provide EMI options to the farmers at a very low interest rate of 5%.

7.3 Sales estimate

AgriWare Networks will generate revenues by selling the product which has varying number of nodes depending on the area of the deployment. The sales estimate is done assuming that the entire system is deployed in an average area of 5 ha. An area of 5 ha will need around 200 sensor nodes. The below table summarizes the sales estimate for three years of the product.

8.0 SWOT Analysis

8.1 Strengths

1. A passionate, self-motivated and well-versed staff including the engineering team, executive team, sales and marketing team.

2. The simplicity of the use of the software for most of the illiterate farmers.

3. A clear vision to meet the mission of bringing the best of Information Technology at resource poor Indian farmer.

8.2 Weakness

1. Since AgriWare Networks is a startup company, sufficient finances are not available instantly.

2. Brand name is not recognized.

8.3 Opportunity

1. Currently, there is no other company which provides WSN solution for agriculture.

2. A compelling need to improve the crop production to be able to cater to the increasing demands of the country.

3. The downward trend in the prices of electronic goods gives an opportunity to make products affordable to our customers.

8.4 Threat

1. Since this is the first product of its kind in the domain of agriculture, customer response is unpredictable.

2. The major customer of AgriWare Networks is the government and being a startup company, to be sell the product on a large scale to the government is a challenge in itself.

9.0 Organization

9.1 Form of ownership

AgriWare Networks has been founded and owned by Mr. Aman Kumar, Mr. Tanish Agrawal and Ms Pinky Agrawal in partnership. The percentage owned by each is as below:

9.2 Key personnel, positions and responsibilities

Aman Kumar is the CEO and marketing head of the company. He is responsible for the planning, coordinating and controlling the project. He has decision-making powers over all the crucial matters like finances and third party communications. He is also responsible for planning the demonstrations and strategies for capturing the market.

Tanish Agrawal is the chief technical officer of the company. He is not only responsible for mentoring and guiding the hardware team as a designer but also for managing it. His job description includes holding regular meetings with the engineering team including the software team to track the progress of the project.

Pinky Agrawal is the agricultural scientist of the company. Her job includes providing data to the software team to develop robust software by analyzing the data from the sensors. She is also responsible for carrying out the agricultural research required by the company as inputs to develop the product.

9.3 Background of Entrepreneurs

Aman Kumar graduated in the field of Electronics and Communication Engineering from IIT Delhi. He later joined IIM, Bangalore to do MBA in Finance. He was associated with Cisco Systems for one year as the Finance Manager, Mu Sigma Inc for two years as Business Analyst before joining AgriWare Networks.

Tanish Agrawal graduated from DA-IICT with specialization in Wireless Sensor Networks. He is a Master’s student in Embedded Systems Design at University of Lugano. He is experienced in hardware software codesign of Embedded Systems.

Pinky Agrawal graduated from University of Agricultural Sciences. She holds a MSc. degree in Agriculture Science. Her thesis work was to use Information Technology for early detection cotton crop diseases in areas surrounding Hyderabad and Warangal. Cotton is one of the major crops in these areas and has suffered a lot of damage in the past few years.

Identify and discuss advisors, consultants and outside board members

10.0 Financial Plan

• Provide opening balance sheet

• Provide 3 years forecast income statements

• Provide 3 years forecast balance sheets

• Provide 1 year monthly cash flow statement

11.0 Critical Risks and Mitigation

11.1 Risks

AgriWare Networks considers the following factors as major risk for the business:

1. Manufacturing of sensor nodes at IBM might be affected because of IBM internal priorities?

2. The orthodox outlook of the rural population towards using conventional techniques for agriculture can be a gating issue.

3. The subsidy provided by the government might not be good enough for the farmers to buy the product.

11.2 Risk Mitigation

To avoid manufacturing issues from one vendor (IBM), AgriWare Networks will establish relations with another similar vendor (AMCC/Broadcom), so that in case of problems from one vendor, the market still goes on from the manufactured item from the other vendor.

To change the orthodox outlook, the television advertisement will demonstrate the ease of use of the technology and reliable results of product.

AgriWare Networks will give EMI options to the farmers with a very low interest rate of 5%.

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