Category Archives: Asia

IBM takes Watson to Asia

The globe close up, Asia pastIBM has opened a new research centre in Singapore as it aims to expand its cognitive computing offering Watson into the Asian markets.

The Watson Centre will be located in IBM’s current office at Marina Bay Financial Centre will help commercialize the cognitive, blockchain and design capabilities through partnering with local organizations and co-creating new business solutions. The company claims the new centre will act as a hub for almost 5,000 IBM cognitive solutions professionals in the Asia Pacific region.

Although countries like Japan and China would be considered more mature in their adoption of cloud and next generation technologies, there are numerous others who are in the early stages of adoption. Countries like India and Indonesia have economies which are demonstrating healthy GDP growth at 7.3% and 4.7% respectively, as well as being the third and fifth most populous countries worldwide. Cloud adoption is beginning to accelerate in countries such as these representing a lucrative opportunity for companies such as IBM.

“Watson and blockchain are two technologies that will rapidly change the way we live and work, and our clients in Asia Pacific are eager to lead the way in envisioning and creating that future,” said Randy Walker, CEO IBM Asia Pacific. “Here they can leverage the latest in customer experience design, use cognitive technology to draw insight from vast quantities of data, and draw on IBM’s huge investments in research and development. In partnership with our clients we are nurturing local talent and building an ecosystem to accelerate the development of cognitive solutions and blockchain platforms.”

It would appear the IBM team will be focusing on the financial services, healthcare and tourism industries in the first instance, and the team already have a number of wins in place including Parkway Pantai, DBS Bank and ZUMATA Technologies. The Asian markets have seemingly been a target for Big Blue, and is one of the areas the company has been seeing positive results in recent months. Despite reporting its 16th consecutive quarterly revenue decline in April, the Asian markets were one of the few areas the team saw growth.

Watson has seemingly been the focal point of the company’s efforts to redefine their market position, as the team aim to position itself firmly in the cloud space. Last month the team announced it would teach Watson Korean in an effort to increase the usage and adoption of cloud computing within the region, and acquisitions over recent months have been geared more towards the IoT business unit.

“So where are we in the transformation?” said Martin Schroeter, CFO at IBM during the quarterly earnings call. “It is continued focus on shifting our investments into those strategic imperatives, it is making sure that the space we’re moving to is higher margin and higher profit opportunity for us and then making sure we’re investing aggressively to keep those businesses growing.”

Netsuite localizes services in Asian markets

The globe close up, Asia pastNetsuite has continued efforts to localize services worldwide, announcing a number of new partnerships at CXO Summit in Singapore, as well as new product launches.

The company launched NetSuite OneWorld for companies based in Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as multinationals specifically doing business across Asia. The NetSuite OneWorld solution provides companies with multi-subsidiary management and global financial capabilities to run business operations in the region in a two tier model. Netsuite suite can be implemented in the cloud at subsidiary level, while maintaining legacy, on-premise systems at the company’s headquarters. The offering is also localised to meet the business, regulatory and tax compliance needs of regional businesses.

“Our long history in Southeast Asia and the dynamic business environment that has emerged in recent years, make expansion in the region a strategic imperative in NetSuite’s next phase of international growth,” said NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson. “Our announcements today demonstrate the success we’ve seen already and our deep level of commitment moving forward.”

Having launched its presence in Singapore in 2005, the company has made healthy gains in recent years, boasting a client list of 212 enterprises and subsidiaries in the city state alone. The new partnerships and product offerings appear to demonstrate Netsuite’s intentions in the region. Netsuite recently reported healthy growth over the course of the last 12 months, Q1 revenues were reported at $216.6 million, up 31% year-over-year, and since that point, Nelson has seemingly indicated the Asia market as a priority.

According to the South China Morning Post, Netsuite will be aiming to establish a number of data centres in the region, with Hong Kong and Singapore noted as possible locations. Netsuite’s tendency in entering new regions has been to open up multiple locations as a fail-safe, which could be seen during the company’s expansion in Europe last year. The company opened data centres in Dublin and Amsterdam within a short period of time during the expansion efforts.

While Hong Kong and Singapore represent healthy opportunities for the company to drive revenues, Netsuite has outlined China as a long-term target, with a Hong Kong platform offering a solid gateway due to its trade and political ties. “Businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore are already reaping the rewards of open trade and global expansion,” said Zakir Ahmed, GM of NetSuite Asia. “NetSuite OneWorld is giving these businesses the flexibility and agility to fully capitalise on the current cycle of growth.”

In terms of local partnerships, the announcement detailed new collaborations with 3PL Total Technology, a cloud warehouse management solutions company,, CuriousRubik, a previous Netsuite partner, and Doji Media, a company which helps local customers expand their remit to international markets.

Cloud computing in the public sector

BCN has partnered with the Cloud Asia Forum event to speak to some of its speakers. In this interview we speak to Ben Dornier, Director of Corporate & Community Services, City of Palmerston.

BCN: What does your role involve and how is technology helping your organisation grow and reach more customers? What is the role of Cloud Computing in this?

Ben Dornier: My role includes responsibility for general corporate affairs (finance, city tax revenue, legal affairs, HR, IT, contracts, insurance and risk) as well as governance and strategy (the city strategy, annual budget, annual financial reporting, performance reporting, policy and corporate strategy), and community services (libraries, city recreational facilities, city facilities, city community services).

ICT plays a major role in ensuring this portfolio can not only be adequately delivered, but especially in ensuring it is done efficiently and sustainably. Cloud computing is a major player, with several major systems already in the cloud, and our transfer of all corporate ICT systems into public/private cloud hybrids over the course of this financial year. It has reduced our risk and cost base, and allowed us a shift of emphasis from employing pure technical expertise to technical strategy expertise, allowing us to focus on our core services while improving service standards.

What do you consider as the three main challenges for wide Cloud Computing adoption in Asia and how do you anticipate they can be overcome?

Interesting question, and really I can only answer regarding the public sector – the first is primarily HK based. I note a reticence amongst public agencies to provide mobility solutions to their employees, and I think this seriously hampers the effectiveness of cloud based solutions to get government workers out of their desks and into the city infrastructure and services, which I believe likely drags on costs and efficiency. With this as a barrier, many of the benefits of cloud based solutions will not be readily as apparent to the government – and the skill sets of highly competent, highly mobile workforce will not be an advantage.

Second, I see the structural issues associated with data governance and related policy as a serious barrier, although this is steadily decreasing. As long as policy makers are not actively addressing cloud procurement and adoption issues, the ICT staff supporting internal decision making will not be able to recommend new and innovative models of service delivery without there being fairly high costs associated with development. This continues the prevalence of ‘bespoke systems’ and the myth that ‘our agency and its requirements are unique, and we need a unique system’. I simply do not believe this is true any longer, and nations which address this at a federal or national level are reaping the benefits.

Third, in ‘cloud-readiness’, Asia is rapidly climbing – but this is really a private sector metric. I would strongly advocate that there be a concerted effort in the industry to support a public sector metric, which could bootstrap some of the incredible work happening in the private sector, and be a convincing argument for changes in public policy towards cloud use. Public sector use will be a serious revenue driver once procurement practices are able to support government cloud use in the least restrictive manner appropriate.

How much is Mobility part of your strategy? Is it important for organisations to enable employee mobility and reach out to customers through mobile devices?

Mobility is a ‘force-multiplier’ for us (to borrow from military terms), which allows us to increase productivity while reducing pressures on human resources. Municipal employees are able to spend less time at their desks entering data into corporate systems, be it for inspections and assessments of civic assets, to animal and parking infringements. For these staff, less time at the desk means more time doing the work they were hired to do. It also allows us to offer better employment flexibility for staff who would prefer to operate part time or odd hours, without some of the productivity issues often associated with workplace flexibility.

We are also finding that young employees are increasingly expecting us to provide this capability, and quickly adopt mobile solutions. As for our city residents, more than 50% are accessing city information through mobile devices when and where they need it, and an increasing proportion of these rely on mobile devices as their primary access. This will only increase.

How do you think Disruptive Technologies affect the way business is done in your industry?

Technology disruption is continuing to be a key component, particularly as older, expensive Line of Business systems are proving not nearly as capable as well managed cloud based solutions. I believe an increasing disruptor in this area will be cloud based integration services offering connections which tie multiple cloud based solutions into effectively a single service from the perspective of the end user.

There will always be a role for major system suppliers, but increasingly the aggregated cloud based service sector will take a large chunk of market share while reducing the risks associated to big capex spends and expensive implementations. When I am spending tax money, this is an important consideration!

Can you recommend a – relevant to Cloud and Technology – book/film/article that inspired you?

Being a bit more digital, might I suggest a blog! I have a heavy interest in concepts around ‘smart cities’, a technology disruption occurring around the business of building very expensive but often technologically ‘dumb’ civil infrastructure like bridges and waste facilities. I am an avid reader of posts at Jesse Berst’s “Smart Cities Now” blog, through his site at There are a few good blogs in this sector, but I enjoy the variety Jesse’s site provides.

What was your interest in attending Cloud Asia Forum? What are you looking to achieve by attending the event?

Frankly, I know from past experience that I am guaranteed an ‘ah-hah’ moment, or even several, which will change my thinking and perspective on a specific area related to cloud solutions in government. I am looking forward to hearing the speakers and interacting with delegates and finding out where these ‘ah-hah’ moments will occur. This year I am particularly interested in listening to topics covering C-Level persuasion, the translation of the technical advantages of cloud computing into corporate decision making involving non-technical (meaning ICT!) executives. For me, I think this will be helpful in persuading elected officials on their own terms about the benefits of cloud adoption.

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