Limitless landscape: opportunities for channel partners in APAC

At the Canalys Channels Forum in Perth, Australia, Canalys presented how customers implementing their digital strategies allows many opportunities for channel partners in Asia-Pacific. This differs per vertical and by industry, but it also presents massive complexity, which is excellent news for the channel as this means customers will need more help in solving business issues

Common opportunities across verticals

One of the biggest persistent myths is that hardware is dead, which is completely wrong. Hardware is very much alive and Canalys expects it to continue to contribute to over 50% of revenue for 90% of partners by 2020. Regardless of vertical, there will be demand for mobile devices and data center infrastructure, especially as more computing power is needed at the edge. Drones, robots, autonomous vehicles and sensors are all examples of types of hardware that the channel will sell in the next three to five years.

Software will continue to play a critical role in digital strategies as more IT solutions become software-defined and application-led. Data will need to be stored, processed and analyzed in the cloud or on-premise, which will continue to fuel hybrid IT environments and artificial intelligence, and machine learning becoming more important. Most of all, as IoT becomes more prevalent and as more devices become connected, security will continue to be front and center, and will remain the channel’s biggest opportunity.

Partners will deliver these IT solutions via up-front deals, managed services or both, depending on the customer. This also means maintenance, technical services and support services will be important to the channel. Furthermore, the approach needs to be customer-led or consulting-led. Canalys has also long recommended that to unlock these opportunities, partners need to approach digital projects or transformation projects from a consulting angle; identifying customer needs, architecting customers’ digital strategies, and being the customers’ trusted advisor.

Limitless opportunities by vertical

There are limitless opportunities in each vertical. Below are examples of typical solutions being deployed in each vertical and APAC-specific examples for each.

Agriculture

Typical opportunities

Sensor-driven aeroponics, drone surveillance, animal sensors, irrigation optimization, automated food processing, autonomous farming, mining trucks

Notable APAC examples

In New Zealand, collars monitor how cows chew food, their temperature and movement. Robots automate milking, from teat cleaning to attaching cups to each cow. Each cow receives an automated health check and is given supplementary feed according to its needs.

In Thailand, Biotech start-up JuiceInnov8, spun off from the local university, uses microbes to reduce sugar in fruit juices. In addition, Ricult uses satellite imagery to tell farmers when to water, irrigate or harvest. It claims 50% improvement in profitability. Ricult also provides an app alternative credit score and cheaper loans.

Education

Typical opportunities

VR technology for classrooms, mobile classrooms, campus security solutions against terrorism, optimization of lights, heat and sound, app-based narration for the disabled

Notable APAC examples

In Singapore, VR technology was piloted in five primary schools, allowing visits to unusual historic sites or offshore fish farms. Microsoft is helping blind and visually impaired people better navigate the world with the Seeing AI app, which uses computer vision to narrate the user's surroundings, read text and describe scenes. This is currently only available in the US, but there is massive opportunity to implement something similar, or even better, in APAC, especially China.

Finance

Typical opportunities

Compliance analysis, fraud detection, app-based virtual branch services, ecommerce systems, cashless payments

Notable APAC examples

China remains far ahead in going cashless, and Asian countries are attempting to follow suit. In India, demonetization accelerated the adoption of online payment systems, sparking digital transactions to increase by over 20 times in 2016. Among India's population of over 1.25 billion, about 1.17 have biometric identity cards called “Aadhar”. The government wants its citizens to link their Aadhar numbers with their bank accounts by 31 December. There is now a cap on cash dealings at 200,000 rupees (US$ 3,15), and the government is heavily promoting mobile apps, such as the Unified Payments Interface and the Bharat Interface.

Singapore is encouraging its citizens to go cashless. The government and seven local banks have implemented PayNow, which allows consumers to transfer money based on phone numbers and local identity numbers, 24/7.

Government

Typical opportunities

Smart cities, traffic safety and control, face recognition for security, drone surveillance, waste management, disaster monitoring, e-government services

Notable APAC examples

China is rolling out a “Social Credit System” to rate its 1.3 billion citizens. The government is working with WeChat, Sesame Credit and Alipay to gather personal data. Using the system, the government gives its citizens scores based on personal activity:

  • Someone who plays video games ten hours a day would be considered an “idle person”
  • A person who buys diapers would be a parent, and more likely to be “responsible”

The benefits for having a higher social credit score includes eligibility to the kind of jobs or mortgages a citizen can get, as well as a number of services such as faster check-in at hotels and easier access to cash loans, travel visas etc. The system is voluntary today, but the government will make it mandatory in 2020. There are many potential use cases for the system. For example, teenagers can only be given access to dating websites if they have a favorable credit score.

China is identifying criminals by scanning faces in major events such as beer festivals. Face scanners are also being implemented as a way to regulate access to WC paper at a popular park in Beijing in order to prevent toilet paper theft.

In the coastal city of Taoyuan, Taiwan, the local government airport monitors flood levels to report water levels in storm drains, road conditions, and provide information on flood gates via a real-time app. Notifications are issued to warn citizens of flooding and inform them of the nearest evacuation centers. Users can also report floods using the app. This has proven successful in minimizing casualties during the typhoon season.

Healthcare

Typical opportunities

Paperless records, medicine and vaccine coordination, closed loop insulin delivery, asset monitoring and tracking, AI scans, virtual consultant, remote consultation in hard to reach areas

Notable APAC examples

In India, a company called Niramai uses high-resolution thermal sensing together with machine learning and artificial intelligence to scan for breast cancer at a low cost. The device is transportable to smaller towns. Analytics on images is reliable for early detection of breast cancer, which is critical.

Pioneering Dusit Medical Services in Bangkok began deploying systems back in 1999 and created the “health tourism” industry. It is now replicating the same industry in Vietnam, at Ho Chi Minh Oncology Hospital, with local channel partner FPT. The hospital provides lab tests and reports remotely within minutes, cutting down registration, prescription and other processing times.

Manufacturing

Typical opportunities

Fault detection by sensors, supply chain analytics, 3D design software for virtual product samples, robotics to accelerate production, 3D printing

Notable APAC examples

Manufacturing 4.0 is growing significantly in China, Japan and South Korea. This involves the implementation of 3D printing, robotics, analytics, VR and AR and digital twins to digitize the manufacturing industry. The “Made in China 2025” initiative has a goal of deploying 100,000 industrial robots per year.

Meanwhile, Li and Fung, a Hong Kong-based supply chain company, uses 3D design software to create virtual product samples, reducing production time significantly. In addition, factories in China, Bangladesh and Vietnam have installed sensors to monitor productivity, work progress, raw materials scheduling and capacity planning.

The transformation in manufacturing has also led to partnerships between Operational Technology (OT) and IT vendors, such as the new alliance between Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ABB. This means channel partners must seek to work closely with OT vendors to unlock more opportunities in the manufacturing sector.

Retail

Typical opportunities

Customized behavior analysis, personalized advertising, automated loyalty schemes, rotating stock, robot assistants, omni-channel click and deliver, drones for package delivery, chatbots

Notable APAC examples

In China, KFC has implemented “smile to pay”, using Alipay’s facial recognition technology. No phones are required. Instead, it uses a “liveness detection algorithm”, which detects if someone is a real person. In addition, JD.com uses drones in China and plans to build 185 drone ports there. Its goal is to have the drones deliver packages up to 15kg to any city within 24 hours, flying 100km per hour. Moreover, in China’s Guizhou Province, the Oriental Sci-Fi Valley theme park has opened, using VR technology in all its rides.

In Japan, human-like robots are used at Hen na Hotel to greet guests. The hotel employs 140 robots and only seven humans. Two dinosaurs at the reception counter speak Japanese, English, Simplified Chinese and Korean. In the rooms, an Alexa-type device called “Tapia” is used to turn on the TV and the lights.

In Singapore, Challenger Technologies, a retailer, uses facial recognition to determine the number of visits, demographics and products viewed in-store. Cheers, a convenience store in Singapore recently launched an unmanned convenience store, which uses self-checkout systems. Finally, Kopitiam, a food chain in Singapore, uses two-meter tall robots to collect used trays and plates. The robots roam the coffee shops, recognize the used objects and stop wherever necessary to collect them.

Transportation

Typical opportunities

Autonomous vehicles, fleet tracking, security and access, self-service check-in, clearance and bag drop at airports, vehicle maintenance, passenger flow

Notable APAC examples

In Zhuzhou, China, the local government has deployed what it calls “smart trains” or Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART). It incorporates elements of trams, trains and buses, and runs on electricity. Instead of rails or tracks, the ART uses rubber tires, and by way of its sensors can self-determine its own routes on the world’s first virtual tracks.

Singapore’s Changi airport remains ahead of the rest of the world. In its terminal 4, it has implemented a system, which includes:

  • Self-service check-in, automated bag drop, immigration clearance and boarding
  • Traveller’s photo confirmed at immigration and boarding - no need to present passport
  • 3D scanning - no need for passengers to take laptops out of bags