Total Telecom caught up with Ong Geok Chwee, CEO of Bridge Alliance, to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing enterprises looking to rollout IoT tech

IoT deployment is not easy. Deploying solutions with scale, across a region, comes with complexities. If you are entering a new market, the lack of familiarity and context will be a barrier. However, if you are thinking about breaking into a region, the complexities will multiply. 

We speak to Ms Ong Geok Chwee, CEO of Bridge Alliance, as she shares her insight on the common challenges that enterprises face when deploying their IoT solutions across regions. This interview takes a focus on Asia, while exploring some tips that the alliance has learnt from over a decade of experience.

Bridge Alliance is a mobile alliance of 34 premier telecom operators in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. The alliance seeks to unlock the power of collective capabilities for its members and partners in the following strategic areas: roaming, the Internet of Things/M2M, enterprise mobility as well as in optimisation and innovation.


What are some of the key features of the Asian market at the moment? How would you sum up the state of the market? 

Most people often see Asia as one market. However, what we know from working with tier 1 operators in the region, is that in reality it is a very fragmented market. There are many countries in Asia and each country is at a different state of maturity, with vastly differing infrastructure. 

We see high momentum for IoT roll-out and innovations in markets like China, South Korea and Japan. There are also the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia – markets with a conducive environment to unlock the potential of smart cities. On the other hand, the emerging markets are still in the midst of getting the right infrastructure in place. Although, these markets are potentially high growth and definitely exciting to watch.


What are some challenges that companies face when deploying IoT solutions across Asia?

A common challenge that companies face is in the complexity of having to deal with multiple parties when it comes to their IoT connectivity needs. This means different markets with different regulations, levels of expertise, management and culture. We often hear from MNCs about the unnecessary complications that arise from the lack of a harmonised commercial model and integrated solution architecture. 

That aside, having multiple service level agreements in the different contractual relationships between the various connectivity providers in each of these markets gives room for misunderstandings and inefficiencies. 


What advice would you have for companies looking to enter the Asian market to overcome this?

Some considerations that companies should take into account when choosing the right partner to help them enter Asia are the reliability of network coverage, the support model and level of experience in IoT deployment. Companies deploying IoT solutions across Asian markets will also need a single platform to enable efficient and effective control and governance of the IoT connectivity across multiple markets. The management of the IoT devices and connectivity is a critical piece as it would be a logistical nightmare to switch after deployment. 


What successes has Bridge Alliance enjoyed in Asia recently?

Bridge Alliance recently won the Most Innovative IoT Solution award at the 2018 Asia Communication Awards. This award means a lot to us as it is a testament to the strength and reach of our member operators and partners in delivering a seamless solution that enables the IoT ecosystem. 

We were recognised on the back of the solution’s scope, which demonstrated value-add with an impressive list of global customers in various industries. 


What predictions do you have for the industry over the next 12-18 months?

The next 12 months is going to be critical in setting the tone for the industry, especially in terms of IoT. Asia will be an exciting region to watch, with the volume of new technology and adoption that we see coming out of these markets. With the speed of advancement of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics and edge computing, we can expect IoT to reach an inflexion point of exponential growth that will revolutionise every industry.