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The keys to unlocking the business value of IoT for APAC

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur1/10/2022 08:30 AM GMT+08  • 6 min read
The keys to unlocking the business value of IoT for APAC
IoT projects are complex as they involve many devices, systems and technologies. So how can we overcome those challenges?
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Today, it only takes a few taps on your mobile device to control your smart lights, see what is in your smart fridge while you’re at the grocery store, and get your fitness data from your wearables.

Taking cue from such consumer trends, organisations are increasingly digitalising and connecting their business processes with the Internet of Things (IoT). Case in point: Research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts IoT spending in Asia Pacific (APAC) excluding Japan to achieve a CAGR of 11.7% over the 2020 to 2024 forecast period.

Together with supporting technologies like 5G and edge computing, IoT can help organisations in Asia Pacific achieve their business goals, such as simplifying operations for efficiency and enhancing their decision-making capabilities.

Strong interest in IoT

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in IoT, especially from Southeast Asia. There are many trials exploring various IoT use cases going on there. For instance, container tracking for logistics companies is currently a hot topic,” says Craig Price, senior vice president for mobility products and marketing at telecommunications provider PCCW Global.

See also: Why NaaS holds the key to success with multi-cloud connectivity

There is also strong IoT interest from organisations, especially manufacturers, intending to expand their footprint into other regions. “IoT is not defined by country boundaries, which is why we’re presenting ourselves as a gateway to Asia and a facilitator for Asian companies that want to move into the European or US markets,” he adds.

According to Price, IoT interest is mainly driven by economic benefits. However, the government push in some APAC countries, like Singapore and South Korea, has also contributed to the increasing number of IoT trials.

In the case of Singapore, its government is providing grants to local companies for their 5G projects, which may include IoT deployment. Approved projects will receive up to 70% of qualifying costs from the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) 5G Innovation Programme.

Some public sector agencies in the city-state are also working with the private sector on IoT trials. It was reported on October 2021 that 10 public sector trials have been launched under the [email protected] project. The trials are using Singtel’s 5G network and edge cloud infrastructure, as well as the Government Technology Agency’s (GovTech) smart nation sensor platform, which collects and analyses real-time information from a nationwide network of sensors and IoT devices.

See also: Is your network ready for the future workforce?

Getting started with IoT

Instead of adopting IoT for the sake of it, IoT must be strategically deployed to address business demands such as eliminating inefficiencies, improving customer satisfaction, or creating new revenue streams.

APAC organisations should therefore start any IoT projects by identifying suitable IoT applications and build a compelling case from there to get buy-in. Thereafter, they will need to build a proof of concept to further convince the board and secure the necessary budget to fund an enterprise-wide IoT implementation.

To overcome the inertia of deploying IoT, organisations should first find new use cases applicable to their industry, and then demonstrate to their management or shareholders that the IoT project or idea is viable for the business.

Craig Price, senior vice president for mobility products and marketing at PCCW Global

IoT complexities

Despite their benefits, IoT projects are complex as they involve many devices, systems and technologies.

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One of the top IoT challenges is ensuring interoperability between solutions and different countries. End-to-end IoT connectivity can also be very complex, often involving a combination of local and international connections, leased lines, public internet, mobile and Wi-Fi networks, private and public clouds.

“The IoT market is very fragmented. There are a lot of different devices and settings across them, various standards with regards to global connectivity, and you might have to use several IoT management platforms – so adopting IoT can be a daunting experience,” explains Price.

Additionally, organisations may lack a robust infrastructure to support the connectivity demands of their regional IoT projects. While a provider may have a strong presence in one APAC country, a broader IoT implementation requires an underlying network infrastructure with appropriate security and redundancy that extends across the whole region.

Cybersecurity and data privacy are the other key areas IoT adopters will need to address.

Using IoT devices across multiple countries and networks increases the attack surface area, making organisations more vulnerable to cyber threats that are becoming pervasive and sophisticated. Moreover, connecting many industrial devices securely can be tricky as they were historically designed to be secure by virtue of their isolation.

Even if the data provided by IoT devices is not sensitive, the fallout from data breaches can still be extensive, costly, and represent a significant legal liability.

Making it work

To overcome those challenges, Price recommends partnering with an experienced and reputable IoT connectivity provider so that APAC organisations can better control their IoT projects and focus on their core business instead of fixing technical issues.

The partner should:

  • Have a proven track record in providing IoT services in the APAC region
  • Be backed up by their own secure regional IP network as well as 3G, 4G, and 5G coverage
  • Offer network automation to seamlessly, reliably and securely connect people and machines across APAC
  • Be able to assist with security challenges that may arise at a network level, and ensure that any device software, machine-to-machine coding and cloud service integration is also secure
  • Commit to keeping up with the latest developments in the industry, and is large enough to make the necessary investment in technology infrastructure now and in the future.

One such partner is PCCW Global’s Console Connect. Besides having the characteristics mentioned earlier, it also offers an IoT service that helps simplify the ordering, deployment and change management of an organisation’s entire global IoT network.

With the Console Connect IoT service, organisations can activate and deactivate devices, monitor traffic usage, configure services and customise rules – all in real-time – through a single, easy-to-use, self-service management portal. They can also explore and directly connect with a global ecosystem of IoT, carrier, SaaS and other Network-as-a-Service partners through the portal, to get ideas for IoT applications or accelerate their IoT projects.

According to Price, organisations across industries globally are using Console Connect IoT for various use cases, including asset tracking, fleet management, and connected equipment. For example, a logistics company is leveraging Console Connect IoT to track the location of their trucks in real-time by using video capture and telemetry data.

The increasing availability of 5G and edge computing in APAC presents opportunities for organisations in the region to enhance their operations and create new business models with IoT. But for IoT projects to be successful and deliver those business values, they need to be backed by connectivity that brings IoT devices and systems – which may span across the region or globally – together in a seamless, reliable and secure manner.

Keen to get started or need more help on IoT? Get step-by-step guidelines to successfully launch your IoT application in APAC here.

Photo: Unsplash

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