In Southeast Asia mobile technology adoption is very high. But that reality runs in stark contrast to the population's general adoption and comfort level of new technologies.
That disconnect was a topic of conversation late last month at the Asia M2M IoT Business Platform 2015 in Bangkok, where I participated as a speaker. The event addressed key issues facing machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things technology adoption;in the region.
The conference attracted more than 200 information and communications technology (ICT) stakeholders from all as well as a large contingent of representatives from the banking, finance and insurance industries who were looking to find ways to enhance IoT adoption, improve the customer experience and impact the bottom line.
The event was held at the Amari Watergate hotel, which is just a stones throw from the famed Siam Square. It was clearly aimed at addressing issues facing IoT and M2M adoption in the region, many of which are unique to Southeast Asia.
As one speaker put it, “Thai’s use Line and Facebook all day long but will likely say they have never used email.”
It’s challenges like this that make technology adoption at the consumer level difficult in a place like Thailand, a country that by all accounts is ripe for technological development.
This anomaly of adoption is very likely why all of the major mobile carriers were sponsors of the conference and why all had speakers on hand to talk about their platforms to support IoT and M2M development.
Use What Customers Know
Adoption is the most important aspect of any new technology. And speaker after speaker at the conference reiterated that point. In fact, they argued, designing technologies that customers are comfortable with using allows a company to use that technology to improve the overall customer experience.
It reduces the learning curve, which in turn allows the customers to see the benefits faster.
Improving customer experience is an important benefit of the Internet of Things — a fact that most attendees at the conference were already well aware.
It goes without saying that most business constantly strive to improve the customer experience. Sometimes there are hurdles to get over, such as technology adoption.
When that's the case, it stands to reason using technologies that people already like and use boosts adoption — and an excellent way to forge greater connection with customers.
The Value of the Smartphone
Smartphones operating on an existing mobile network provide that comfort level. Using them, developers can put IoT and M2M solutions in the hands of customers much easier.
This was a key focus of my own talk at this conference. Not only do smartphones offer a comfort level that can help bring customers into the IoT, but they are also packed with sensors and multiple methods of connectivity.
The benefits of adopting a smartphone based IoT solution do not end at ease of adoption. Generally speaking, there are no additional costs because the customer already owns the smartphone and bandwidth to transmit the data back as part of a monthly service package.
Of course there are other costs involved but these two substantial benefits cannot be denied.
At the end of the day, improved consumer IoT technology adoption was the big theme of the conference.
And it became fairly clear that at least in Southeast Asia, mobile networks and smartphones are the ways to get there. All developers have to do is leverage what the customer knows and accepts to improve their experience through IoT technology.
The conference highlighted strengths and weaknesses in the development and growth of the IoT space in Thailand. IDC predicts Thailand’s ICT Market will grow 10.6 percent year-over-year in 2015 and could grow more if the market accelerates the adoption of the Third Platform technologies of mobility, cloud, big data analytics and social business.
While Thailand faces some unique challenges in driving IoT adoption, the goal of better customer experience is universal. That should help motivate companies to move forward and find innovative ways to leverage smartphones to bring the IoT to their customers.
Title image by Peter Rowley.
Simpler Media Group, 2015