22 October 2016
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So said Hong Kong has an opportunity to become a hub of excellence in the field of machine-to-machine adoption. Photo: HKEJ
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So said Hong Kong has an opportunity to become a hub of excellence in the field of machine-to-machine adoption. Photo: HKEJ

Why M2M is the ‘new normal’ in Hong Kong

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.

According to Vodafone’s M2M Barometer Report 2015, the Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific (AMEAP) region saw overall M2M adoption rates grow from 27 per cent to 35 per cent over the past year – the largest growth in any region in the survey.

A large part of that is likely due to government leadership: countries like South Korea, Singapore and China have made Internet of Things (IoT) a big focus of national public policies, with billions of dollars being offered to the enterprise.

Hong Kong’s government is also raising the profile of M2M locally, using this year’s policy address to moot the feasibility of developing a pilot “smart city” area in the city.

Gregory So, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, pointed out at an IoT symposium in May that Hong Kong has an opportunity to become a hub of excellence in the field.

He said tech startups are now flocking to Hong Kong from IT hotbeds in the United States, 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 startup culture bodes well for hosting innovations and ideas that will eventually power its “smart city” and other M2M initiatives.

How might an M2M-rich “smart Hong Kong” look? Let’s take Sino Group as an example.

Sino Group has equipped more than 30 of its car parks with an advanced automobile parking navigation platform, helping drivers easily identify available car parks using a mobile application.

This cuts down waiting time and congestion in carparks. The same platform could also deliver valuable analytics about usage and help with smoother payment (or collection of penalties) – making automatic deductions from your card balance when you leave the carpark.

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 has already established itself as the “new normal” for many Hong Kong citizens.

Many organizations, such as the Taobao marketplace, are taking advantage of M2M to drive business benefits.

Since last year, Octopus mobile app users have been able to pay for any purchases on Taobao marketplace using NFC-enabled mobile devices.

According to Vodafone’s M2M Barometer Report 2015, 54 percent of businesses that have adopted M2M say they achieved significant return on investment in 12 months or less – and of those who’ve integrated M2M with other “third-platform” technologies, like data analytics, that proportion skyrockets to more than 80 percent.

But how can businesses take advantage of this opportunity?

Hong Kong enterprises should focus on how M2M works with other technologies – particularly those relating to data.

According to the Barometer Report, nearly one in two AMEAP businesses with an M2M strategy has already adopted Big Data.

The likelihood of gaining strong return on investment is substantially higher for enterprises that integrate these two technologies compared to those simply adopting M2M in isolation.

In fact, globally, the sectors with the highest growth in M2M adoption are exactly those where the dividends from data analytics are potentially the largest.

Retail, where smart payments and supply chain optimization promise to improve purchase rates and customer satisfaction, saw adoption spike by almost 90 percent compared to 2014.

Healthcare, where remote, real-time access to patient data could transform the way we diagnose and treat illnesses, saw adoption grow by nearly 50 percent, while utilities adoption rose by 32 percent as more and more providers seek out “smart metering” solutions to better track and optimize the grid.

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 startups and the broader mobile technology scene.

But moving fast, and with the right technology partner, 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 or fails.

– Contact us at [email protected]


M2M Head of APAC, Vodafone Global Enterprise

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