Asia Pacific leads global IoT technology adoption: Vodafone

  • 70% of respondents in Asia Pacific are seeing significant returns on IoT, global average 62%.
  • 75% of respondents in Asia Pacific have the process in place to manage IoT security, versus global average of 69%.
Asia Pacific leads global IoT technology adoption: Vodafone

ASIA Pacific is leading the pack when it comes to the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, as well as having higher returns on IoT investments, said Vodafone Group in a recent study.

According to Vodafone's latest IoT Barometer report, 70% of respondents in Asia Pacific are seeing significant returns on IoT investments, while 61% of respondents in Asia Pacific are using IoT to support large-scale business transformation -- which is significantly higher than the global average of 62% and 48%, respectively.

The study also showed that 75% of APAC respondents have the process in place to manage IoT security, versus the global average of 69%.

So, why is Asia Pacifc leading the pack in terms of adoption and extracting returns on investments? Is it because most of the sensor manufacturing bases are located in the region? 

"We feel the trend is far bigger than just the sensor manufacturing base in the region. There are regional economies in Asia Pacific that have not leveraged connected services in the past, but are now seeing a rapid uptake of IoT solutions that help businesses improve their service delivery. 

"In particular, certain verticals such as the automotive industry (with connected vehicles), utilities industries (such as water, and oil and gas) and healthcare are driving significant growth across the region," says Vodafone's head of IoT (Asia Pacific) Justin Nelson in an email interview with Digital News Asia early this week.

The study - which was done in April and May 2016 - was conducted on 1,096 respondents from 17 countries, including Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, the UK and the US. 

These respondents are decision makers at senior manager level or above, from companies ranging between small and medium enterprises to multinational companies with more than 10,000 employees, covering nine sectors from retail to logistics.

Can the lead be sustained?

Asia Pacific leads global IoT technology adoption: Vodafone

Over the next few years, the adoption level of the IoT technologies are expected to rise in all region, and the race may be too close to call especially when other regions are trying to close the gap with Asia Pacific. 

For now, it appears that the lead may likely be sustainable, backed by the growing uptake of IoT technologies in emerging markets, says Nelson (pic right).

"The uptake of IoT services in emerging economies of countries such as Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia looks really promising. 

"Vodafone sees the opportunities in some of these economies to leapfrog more established ones in terms of IoT uptake, and we are currently at the discussion stage with some of them. 

"Within the next two years, we believe the majority of business will be using IoT as part of their everyday business operations. We are already seeing various applications not only driving process improvements, but also having significant impact on how employees work as well as on the end-customer experience," says Nelson.

"In two years, will the rest of the world catch up with Asia Pacific? Apart from what has been achieved in the region, it also boils down to the forward-thinking mindset. Companies here with the ambition to dominate the market are often the ones leading the trend and bringing IoT to the forefront in Asia Pacific."

Challenges ahead
Nevertheless, Nelson admits that there are challenges still when comes to IoT implementation and adoption. 

"Concerns over security have been the biggest barrier to IoT adoption so far. The top concern is that the risks are 'unknown' and 'unquantifiable', and companies are often not confident that they can respond competently in a potential breach," says Nelson.

He adds that these concerns can be easily addressed by working with security experts to establish company policies and recruit new specialists to train existing staff with the right IoT skills and best practices.

When it comes to sales pitches, he says that some businesses may be deterred by costings, while some others wait until the technology has been proven over time. 

"However, most of the time, interested parties in an organisation are unable to engage a larger group of decision makers," he says.

To overcome the challenges, Nelson believes that the key is to help potential customer see the value in IoT, and to help customers to implement smaller scale IoT projects before moving to  large scale projects.

"We fully understand that embarking on a new IoT deployment is an important decision involving significant resources. For companies that wish to first run a test for consideration, we are able to cater for testbed projects.

"Some SMEs may not currently see IoT as a viable solution. However, when you present the business case (explaining how a small coffee shop could receive an order straight to machine, seamless through an end-customer's smartphone app) they might discover the potential value," says Nelson.

Related Stories:

IoT will be largely driven by makers and younger startups: Gartner

South-East Asia's IoT market ripe for the picking: Pundit

Malaysia unveils IoT roadmap, expects US$11 bil income boost

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