Terence Tan, Regional President, South Asia and Korea, Avnet in an exclusive interview with Techseen talks about the Internet of Things (IoT) its challenges in APAC and the new markets and opportunities for Avnet in the growing space of IoT in the region. He also talks about the maturity of growth in APAC and the need for a robust infrastructure to optimize productivity and mitigate new threats in the IoT and connected devices space. Excerpts:
Techseen: The real power and utility of IoT lies in the industrial/ enterprise sector rather than personal use. Do you believe this is true?
Tan: Basically, the definition of IoT is a connection of devices (or objects or things) embedded with electronics, sensors, software and network connectivity that enables these devices to collect and exchange data. As such, the applications can span a very broad market like industrial/enterprise, consumer, automotive, buildings, and so on. Each of these market segment applications has its own potential and complexity in deployment. The growth potential or the size of the market could be different for each market application; certainly each has its own potential.
Techseen: What is your view on the advancement of IoT in the APAC region? What are the key challenges and roadblocks and how do you suggest the region counters those challenges and roadblocks?
Tan: IoT is still pretty much in the growth stage in APAC. As such, it is a level playing field for anyone who wants to venture into IoT. Again, for each market segment applications, each region might have its own potential and area of expertise. For example, if you look at the consumer space, APAC has the largest population. Hence, its potential could be the largest. But if the IoT device is priced too expensive, then the consumption could be limited. However, the affluence of the APAC population is increasing, hence, price may not be a big issue anymore. One of the aspects of IoT is connectivity and in APAC, connectivity to the internet via WiFi or 4G is not an issue anymore.
So as in any product introduction, the key is what entices the user to adopt IoT. In some other area of IoT, it could be the authorities (or government) that can help drive adoption.
These could be related to infrastructure type of IoT; an example could be those in the area of smart cities. As such, the authorities must provide the environment and funding to kick-start the implement and adoption.
Techseen: Can IoT be considered a catalyst for growth and innovation in manufacturing industries? Can it be used to enhance revenue?
Tan: Certainly. The manufacturing industries are major drivers of the economy in most regions. Whatever is done in this important segment will certainly drive growth and revenues.
Techseen: With the world moving into a hyper-connected phase, what are the major security concerns that may impact us the most? What is Avnet doing to help educate and protect both enterprises and personal users from IoT security threats?
Tan: Since all IoT devices are interconnected via some form of network, security is always a concern. The data that is collected can be used for many purposes. It is propriety and confidential to the one who deploys the IoT. One does not want its data which has been collected to be used by someone who is unauthorized. And he/she does not want others to use these data for their own benefit. And worst still, use the data to harm the users.
Techseen: How does Avnet stand out in the market, what is your USP as compared to your peers in APAC?
Tan: Avnet has one of the broadest line of suppliers to support our customers who wants to design IoT, from sensors to processing to connectivity and the cloud. On top of that, we have 7 design centers which we call Avnet Design Services (or ADS) who can help our customers with design services or reference design. Let’s say if a customer wants to design an IoT product and his/her resources is limited as most organizations are; what we can offer to the customer is that Avnet can help them with the design of the IoT product.
The customer can then focus on the other aspect of deployment, areas where the customer does best like installation or data analytics. With this, we can help customers shorten their time-to-market.
The customers do not need to learn from scratch on how to design these IoT products. We can help them with it, as this is what we do best. The customer can leverage on our resources and experience in design.
Techseen: Which are the countries that you feel will accede to IoT the fastest? In APAC, where do you think India stands when it comes to IoT?
Tan: As I said before, IoT is a level playing field. All countries will be successful in their own pursuit of IoT. Similarly India will do well, India has a very big pool of talented resources, huge population with a growing level of affluence. The government is also driving a lot into new initiatives into new markets like smart cities. This will help propel the country very nicely into the IoT space.
Techseen: Earlier this month, you sold off your tech division Technology Solutions to Tech Data. What was the reason behind that?
Tan: With the divestiture of these operations, Avnet is now solely focused on electronic components and integrated and embedded solutions, supporting its customers, ranging from makers to startups to large technology manufacturers, at every stage of the product lifecycle as they bring their latest innovations to market. I believe the acquisition of Technology Solutions (TS) division by Tech Data is the best decision for our employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders.
This acquisition puts TS in a position to achieve breakthrough business results, and it will allow Avnet to focus our resources and investments on those areas where we have a competitive advantage.
Across our industry, we are seeing a convergence of the traditional value and volume distribution models. By adding TS to the Tech Data portfolio, they will be the premier global IT distributor with the most diverse end-to-end solutions. TS also allows Tech Data to significantly expand their value-added distribution capabilities and gives them the ability to capitalize on next-generation technologies.