IoT and the Digital Transformation of APAC Businesses

Sin Hin Wong
Sin Hin Wong
Expert Eye: IoT and the Digital Transformation of APAC Businesses

The Asia Pacific region is well on its way to becoming the world’s biggest hardware, software and services market for the internet of things (IoT), with regional spending expected to reach $398.6 billion in 2023.

This growth opens up many opportunities for local businesses to leverage the latest IoT solutions and adopt a data-driven strategy to compete at home and across the globe.

A recent report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that APAC represents 35.7 percent of the world’s spending on IoT solutions, which refers to a network of Internet-enabled devices and systems that are transforming nearly every industry. Whether your company is based in the region or doing business here, APAC’s digital transformation is unlocking new opportunities for your organization to operate more effectively across the board.

The region’s rapid pace of digital transformation and growth potential has attracted investments from leading technology companies. Earlier this year, I led the Bangkok opening of PDI’s Regional Center of Excellence to support the unprecedented business growth within the convenience retail, petroleum wholesale and logistics industries as we scale operations and help drive this digital transformation.

PDI’s presence here attests to global technology companies’ confidence in the region’s future. With the ongoing digital transformation, businesses can expect to see increased adoption of end-to-end cloud-based solutions, machine-learning capabilities in data analysis and industry-specific technologies that are designed to:

Increase operational and marketing efficiencies

APAC’s booming digital economy requires agility in retailers’ marketing efforts to keep up with consumer engagement in real time through text messaging, mobile apps and social media. Businesses also need greater control and seamless connectivity of their processes, teams and data at the store level. A cloud-based marketing solution allows real-time sales data from individual stores to feed into a centralised system.

In turn, this data can automatically inform the offers customers receive and the amount of new stock needed at the store. Connecting processes in this way increases efficiency and enables retailers to implement more effective customer relationship management (CRM) and profitable marketing outcomes. However, for retailers to leverage insights from customer data, they must address consumers’ concern about personal data safety by strengthening the security of their platforms and increasing their efforts in educating the public about best practices in keeping private information safe.

APAC cloud adoption is expanding not just in the retail sector but across all industries, with spending on public cloud services and infrastructure expected to reach $26 billion in 2019, a 47 percent increase over 2018 spending, according to IDC.

Keep prices competitive

An improved regional economy has brought increased mobility and fuel consumption. APAC’s oil demand is expected to grow from 4.7 million barrels per day in 2017 to around 6.6 million barrels per day in 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.

While APAC countries are at different stages of economic development and have varied consumption patterns, they share a common challenge – to meet a rising demand for fuel. That’s why wholesale and retail petroleum providers are turning to fuel pricing technology with advanced AI and machine learning algorithms that adjust for many factors such as inventory levels and price elasticity to determine the optimal price at any given moment. Previously manual and time-intensive processes have been replaced with smart technology that automatically manages price fluctuations to present the best fuel price to customers, while protecting important margins.

Capture more data to improve logistics

As oil demands and dependency on oil imports grow, the logistics sector has been looking for ways to improve efficiency and remain competitive. IoT is enabling the supply chain to improve fleet tracking and scheduling, as well as capture point-of-sale and automatic-tank-gauge data, in real time. Data-driven insights are helping businesses improve their efficiency and make more informed decisions.

For oil companies and petroleum marketers, the need to capture more data and automate the entire supply chain through a one-stop logistics solution is greater now than ever. A recent University of Tennessee and Georgia College study of shippers and logistics companies in the United States found that more than 40 percent of respondents cited data analytics as the most important technology they need for managing supply chains in the next two years. While there are no comparable statistics available for APAC businesses, the study indicates the general need in the industry for solutions that can leverage data from across the supply chain to improve logistics processes.

Gartner is predicting the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the world will hit 20.4 billion by 2020. Businesses across the board should start to consider the implications this will have on their business now and in the future if they’re to remain sustainable and competitive.

For APAC businesses in particular, technology adoption in the region shows no signs of slowing and a strong economic outlook is creating so many opportunities for leaders to grow their business with the help of digital technology. If you’re looking to explore this opportunity further, you could consider a technology partner to help you grow and thrive in today’s digital economy. Digital success is not as simple as buying and implementing a software solution. To succeed for the long haul, every function in an organisation should be engaged in digital transformation and proactively driving the company’s business goals.

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Sin Hin Wong is a retail IT and executive leader with more than 20 years of consulting, retail and hospitality industry experience in Asia Pacific. He has collaborated with regional retail and hospitality MNCs to redefine retail success and customer experience using retail analytics, disruptive technology and consumer insight. Sin Hin graduated with an executive MBA and MSc in Marketing & Consumer Insight from Nanyang Business School, NTU Singapore. He holds a BBA in Finance (Hons.) from Western Michigan University. He completed an Advanced Management Program at UC Berkeley, a Financial Leadership Program at The Wharton School and earned his PMP from Project Management Institute. Before joining PDI, Sin Hin led RetailNext’s business in Asia Pacific and served as a regional director at NCR responsible for radiant systems retail and hospitality business in Asia.