Your IOT Journey is Bumpy

IOT World (1): How do we balance between prudent spending and risk taking when deploying IOT?

Dr. Mazlan: If there are budget constraints – which Department typically gets a budget cut? Most of the times we hear that IT will be one of the first to get their budget slashed. No more expansion and only critical IT infrastructure will continue to get their renewal of annual maintenance. In the case of the hospital or health care, do we reduce the stock of medicine or stopped any IT expansion – which is a higher priority? But prudent spending doesn’t mean we have to stop any IT activity. In fact, IoT solutions when deployed at the early stage will help organizations to reduce costs and increase productivity. Remote monitoring and automation will reduce a lot of paperwork and traveling costs. Predictive maintenance will greatly reduce costly downtimes. However, you can reap the benefits if you deploy IoT solutions during the “good times” and not when everyone is trying to prioritize and justify their budget during the “bad times”. In some cases, IoT will not give instant benefits since it requires data to be collected for a period. And during the “bad times,” it can be quite risky to deploy a solution which is still considered “new” that needs more time before can be fully adopted. For example in healthcare, wearable devices that measure vital signs need to be certified by the Health Authorities.

IOT World (2): Where do we stand in Malaysia? How is the adoption of IoT?

Dr. Mazlan: IoT is still at its infancy stage in Malaysia. Although, M2M (machine-to-machine) has been deployed by the mobile telcos for many years (remote telemetry, ATM banking, POS, etc.), the real IoT solutions that aggregate many sources of data from various sensors are still a new concept for many companies. When devices are connected using SIM cards and applications are built in silos, I still considered that as M2M (pre-IoT days). Smart Cities have been the target market for many IoT players around the world, however, due to many stakeholders and economic situation, I see this as a big challenge in Malaysia. Thus, many IoT solutions will start from critical sectors such as manufacturing – due to the requirements to stay competitive, reduce costs and increase productivity. Smart Homes are trendy and maybe early adopters will start using them. The game in consumer IoT is riskier because they can become obsolete very fast – probably with a lifetime of 6 to 12 months.

IOT World (3): What if IoT devices are disconnected due to network failure? Will it disrupt the operations?

Dr. Mazlan: Any IT infrastructure depends on the power supply and network coverage – be it an IoT or non-IoT solutions. However, in the case of IoT, there are many points of failure – starting with the end devices (thousands or millions) that connect to a gateway which pushes or pulls the data to a cloud infrastructure. Not to mention applications need to keep continuously running to collect the data or trigger any alarms. Due to the complexity of this IoT deployment, many faint-hearted organizations will not dare to venture into something unknown.

IOT World (4): Why can’t telcos provide full IoT solutions at housing areas or community instead of providing single-point solutions that are based upon request?

Dr. Mazlan: Telcos considered housing areas either Brownfield or Greenfield. It’s easier to deploy IoT solutions in Greenfield areas because of fewer stakeholders in making a decision. In Brownfield areas whereby the residents already occupied their houses and the existence of many infrastructure stakeholders, the decision-making process can be more complicated and slow. That’s why telcos prefer to build IoT solutions at the planning stage when there is only a single stakeholder.

IOT World (5): What’s the best way to develop Smart City? Top-down or Bottom-up approach?

Dr. Mazlan: We have tried both – we started with a top-down approach, and now we used the bottom-up approach. But the most important part – it should be a collaborative approach. The sensitivity, pain points and the awareness of citizens are critical when planning and launching any smart city solutions. We might have all the Smart City “committees” but it should be driven by a Chief Smart City Officer (CSCO) i.e. the one that responsible to execute the Framework and plans.

IOT World (6): Who are the vibrant IoT startups?

Dr. Mazlan: In Malaysia, most of them are in the areas of applications – using smartphones as their IoT devices or using off-the-shelf GPS trackers for vehicle tracking solutions. Not many take the risk to venture in developing hardware related IoT product. Probably due to market demand and the risk to be overtaken by overseas companies that can develop faster and cheaper.

Cloud services companies are perceived to be untrusted, but this is a wrong perception.

IOT World (7): What if the data collected from the individual will be used for other purposes such as Spam advertising or malicious attacks? How do we ensure our data privacy?

Dr. Mazlan: Between confidentiality and security, I think privacy/confidentiality is more manageable than security. However, it requires education and awareness. For example, Facebook now has provided features that allow individual to opt which is open or close. Cloud services companies are perceived to be untrusted, but this is a wrong perception. Cloud companies don’t sell their data without the consent of the owner. The data in the cloud is considered quite safe until someone hacked (example Sony Pictures case) or sell the information. There is a balance between revealing your personal data for a mobile application to work or make yourself totally disconnected from the world. That’s a choice and individual have to make.

screenshot_06.pngThis is based on my recent Invited Talk at MIGHT. You can view or download the slides here.





About the Author

Dr. Mazlan Abbas is an IOT Evangelist and Thought Leader. You can reach him on LinkedIn at or Twitter at . For further details, check out

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