Exploring the importance of partnership to IoT success in Southeast Asia

A Forbes article last week asserts that partnerships are key to IoT success. In the article, the author highlighted a study from Cisco that showed an alarmingly high rate of failure for IoT projects -75%. Even the remainder of the projects that were delivered were also seldom regarded as success.

The reason? Excessive focus on technology over the human factors that determine IoT success. One such example is the lack of effective collaboration between IT and the business stakeholders, or the lack of IoT expertise in the business.

In Southeast Asia, our enterprise survey revealed similar results – that only 3-8% of local enterprises have benefited from implementation of IoT solutions.

To address this issue, we need to look at it from both ends: the enterprise users of IoT and the companies that piece together an IoT solution.

The enterprise users of IoT: what the customers need

Everyday we hear about new alliances and partnerships in the IoT space but how are these addressing what Forbes described as human factors? 

During an enterprise panel discussion at our Singapore event this January, the CIO of a top Indonesian manufacturer said his biggest challenge was not justifying how the technology can benefit his company but rather, how he can get the buy-in from all levels of the company – from the CEO to the operations manager. 

While having many partners should increase the ability of the solution provider to cater to the needs of the customer, one should never forget that efforts to form partnerships for the sake of it is no different from developing technology without first finding out the market needs. “If you build it, they will come” rarely applies in real life.

To address this gap in the IoT ecosystem, we’ve taken on the task of mobilising our local enterprise network to share their IoT stories at our event panel discussions. From the industrial and manufacturing sector to public services and smart cities, we will finally be able to find out what their pain points are and shape technology partnerships and solutions that addresses their needs.

The companies that piece together an IoT solution: towards an open ecosystem?

While many companies claim to want to nurture partnerships, how serious are these efforts? How open is the ecosystem they are building? How much integration is required? What is the onboarding process? For the customer, will they be locked in to one operating system? How easy will they be able to build upon the solution?

Name any technology company and chances are they already have an IoT ecosystem they are building. From Microsoft to HPE , Intel, Cisco, IBM, SAP, Oracle and the like, each has dedicated resources to expand their partner network. Even Huawei has set up their OpenLab team who is investing USD 15 million to set up OpenLab Bangkok to support digital transformation and the Thailand government’s “Thailand 4.0” scheme.

In the technology space, sleeping with the enemy is not just common, but very often, it is required. For IoT, this is even more important with the coordination of hardware, software and services. By working together, traditionally competing technology providers can expand the market so everyone wins. It’s no longer about having a fixed size pie and killing each other for a slice – the new business environment calls for collaboration to increase the size of the pie. When we first started our Asia IoT Business Platform series in 2014, telcos who were traditionally fierce competitors understood the nature of IoT and were aware that they needed to work together to grow the enterprise understanding of IoT before any of them can reap the rewards. 

What then determines the success of a partnership then? According to a study by TM Forum, utility and customer experience helps to create a successful partnership while culture and very importantly, processes, can hamper efforts. 

The third piece – the lack of IoT expertise

The role of local system integrators (SIs) has been a discussion topic before, more specifically how there were not enough SIs who have the necessary expertise to drive IoT projects. In Southeast Asia, while we do note that there has been increased interest, few dedicate the resources and investment required to look into opportunities in this area. Unlike previous technologies like cloud, data analytics, edge computing, IoT will encompass all of these areas and then some. 

Independent software vendors (ISVs) or hardware makers are also often focused on their singular product without the ability to translate their offerings to address enterprise needs on a larger.

By accelerating the capabilities of these local solution providers through partnerships with larger technology firms, IoT in Southeast Asia could grow even larger.

Putting it all together

It is without a doubt that the breadth of IoT requires partnerships to be successful and through our efforts of bringing the enterprise customers closer to the marketplace, we hope to shape these partnerships to address their needs.

Perhaps, when local solution providers see this increased demand from their end users, we can start to integrate them closer into the ecosystem.

We will be conducting a series of questionnaires for local solution providers to find out more about their requirements and will share them with you in the coming months.

In the meantime, should you wish to participate in the enterprise discussion of IoT in Southeast Asia, you may view more details on our speakers and program at this link,

Hope to see you soon.

Fong Yue Yeng

June 6, 2017

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