Asia is leading the charge when it comes to Machine-to-Machine (M2M) adoption, and Hong Kong could be one of the region's top innovation hubs in M2M.
This year's Vodafone M2M Barometer Report results show that with over 35 percent adoption, companies in Africa, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific (AMEAP) region continue to outperform other regions around the world in the adoption of this technology, compared to a global average of 27 percent.
It is most likely because many AMEAP governments are strongly pushing Internet of things (IoT) as a matter of national policy; for instance, South Korea, Singapore, and China.
Hong Kong's government is also raising the profile of M2M locally using this year's Policy Address to moot the possibility of developing somewhere as "smart city". Greg So, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, pointed out at an IoT Symposium presentation earlier that Hong Kong has an opportunity to become a hub of excellence in the field.
He also added that tech start-ups are now flocking to Hong Kong from IT hotbeds in the US, Europe, and Israel, largely due to factors like strong IP protection, good legal services, and a deep pool of financing options. Hong Kong's attractive start-up culture bodes well for hosting innovations and ideas that will eventually power its "smart city" and other M2M initiatives.
How might a M2M-rich "smart Hong Kong" look? Let's take Sino Group as an example. Sino Group has installed more than 30 of its car parks with an advanced automobile parking navigation platform, helping drivers easily identify nearby available car parks using a mobile application.
This cuts down on waiting times and congestion within car parks. The same platform could also deliver valuable analytics about usage and help with smoother payment (or penalties!) – making automatic deductions from your card balance when you leave the car park.
The market opportunity for businesses in Hong Kong is very significant thanks to high urban density, a fast rate of technology adoption, and recent IoT initiatives driven by both public and private investment. M2M is already establishing itself as the "new normal" for many Hong Kong citizens.
Since last year, Octopus mobile app users have been able to pay for any purchases on Taobao marketplace using NFC-enabled mobile devices, so many organisations alike are taking advantage of M2M to drive business benefits.
According to Vodafone's M2M Barometer Report 2015, 54 percent of businesses that have adopted M2M say they achieved significant ROI in 12 months or less – and of those who've integrated M2M with the strategy of adopting big data and data analytics, the figure outperformed to more than 80 percent, which means ROI could be gained higher significantly in this aspect than those simply adopting M2M in isolation.
Hong Kong enterprises should focus on how M2M works with other technologies – particularly those relating to data.
As a hub for M2M innovation, Hong Kong currently has a chance to "leapfrog" other parts of the region, particularly given the encouragement of the public sector, the growth in start-ups and the broader mobile technology scene.
But moving fast, and with the ability to harness the full potential of the technology, is critical to success: these same factors are quickly turning M2M into the "new normal" where innovation and demonstrable results, not the technology itself, will determine who thrives and who fails.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Justin Nelson is the Head of M2M for Vodafone in Asia-Pacific. He joined Vodafone in 2010 and served as M2M Country Manager in Australia for five years until 2014. Before joining Vodafone, Justin worked at 3 Mobile as General Manager for Content and Value-Added Services. He holds a Bachelor of Business degree from RMIT in Melbourne, Australia.