Great potential for intelligent enterprises in Asia Pacific

  • IoT tech adoption is up but many businesses do not measure returns
  • Quick reactions to data are important, as is change management


Great potential for intelligent enterprises in Asia Pacific


WHILE businesses around the world are embracing digitalisation, only 48% are on the path to becoming intelligent enterprises, according to Zebra Technologies Corporation’s Intelligent Enterprise Survey Index.

The global survey, the report of which was published in November last year, analyses where companies are on the journey to becoming an intelligent enterprise and how they are connecting the physical and digital worlds to improve visibility, efficiencies and growth. The companies surveyed had total annual revenues (for 2016) of US$10 million and above.

The Intelligent Enterprise Index measures to what extent companies are meeting the criteria that define today’s intelligent enterprise. The framework of an intelligent enterprise as defined by the survey is based on technology solutions that integrate cloud computing, mobility, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to automatically ‘sense’ information from enterprise assets.

Operational data from these assets, including status, location, utilisation or preferences is then ‘analysed’ to provide actionable insights, which can then be mobilised to the right person at the right time so they can be acted upon to drive better, more-timely decisions by users anywhere, at any time.

Of the 48% that are on their way to becoming intelligent enterprises, only 5% scored more than 75 points on the index. Asia Pacific respondent scored above the global average – 51% scored between 50 and 75 points, though only 2% were above the 75-point benchmark that qualifies them to be considered an intelligent enterprise.

Though Asia Pacific enterprises generally do have strong IoT vision and investments in this area are set to increase – 38% of companies spend more than US$1 million on IoT annually and 80% expect this number to increase in the next two years – 39% of companies today either do not have any IoT plan at all or, if they do, have not executed them.

Measuring benefits of tech adoption

Of those that have or are executing their IoT plan, 22% have no method in place to measure returns on their IoT investment. According to Zebra Technologies’ regional director of Southeast Asia Lim Fang How, some companies do not have a set method of measurement because certain usages of IoT are difficult to quantify.

Intangible benefits, such as enhancing customer experience are difficult to measure, though some companies do tie it to increased revenue. Another thing companies may be unable to measure is the cultural change that IoT adoption engenders within the company.

“Having IoT and information at your fingertips means employees will have to change their culture to always be customer-first rather than just focusing on the processes. How do you measure that?” asks Lim.

“I would say the 22% of companies know where they are driving [their IoT adoption] to, they just need to figure out how to measure that.”

Lim also opines that in today’s world, companies do not integrate IoT into their systems and processes merely for the sake of having the technology or because everyone else is doing it. “All companies that I’ve seen use IoT are looking at it as a key differentiator, where they can use the power of intelligence to equalise competitiveness or gain a competitive edge,” he says.

Challenges and opportunities

One of the biggest challenges faced by Asian businesses when it comes to adoption is change management – getting people to change and implementing a system of support for employees and consumers during the organisational and process changes.

Change management is difficult for a simple reason – when people have been doing things a certain way for a long time it is difficult to change. “It takes time and education. That’s why a large part of the budget is going into educating employees and customers that they need to transform to remain competitive,” says Lim, referring to the Singapore government’s budget 2018 announcement where it stated that S$145 million is being put into helping companies catch up with digital transformation.

Lim points out that a main measure of an intelligent enterprise is how quickly it adopts cloud mobility and IoT, saying that there are numerous examples of companies that have not moved to get or use information fast enough, not transformed their businesses or implemented change fast enough and have thus lost out to competitors.

“There is lots of push to react quickly to real-time data. We’re talking about operational data. It’s how fast you know that your shelf at your retail mall is getting empty, how quickly you react to this data to make sure your stock is properly replenished at the right time and the right place,” he explains.

This intelligence – the ability to gather data and react to it quickly and efficiently – is critical if companies are to remain competitive, which is why companies that are integrating IoT tech into their systems and processes must have a clear vision of where they want the tech to take them, says Lim.

Once the vision and plan is in place, they can then look to partnering with technology leaders, such as Zebra Technologies, to push them further forward.

In closing, Lim says that there are great opportunities for adoption in emerging economies in Southeast Asia, especially as they do not have legacy systems to work around. “There are different challenges in each market, but everybody has a good shot at it,” he says.


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