2021 was a year of disruption as we learned to adapt to new norms brought about by the pandemic. Across Asia Pacific, many countries are learning to live with the coronavirus as borders are gradually being re-opened. These transitions towards an endemic Covid-19 future reveal changing market needs. In uncertain times, data analytics, in particular location intelligence, has become a critical navigational tool for businesses. Location data has the power to forecast demand, identify supply chain disruptions, and facilitate infrastructure planning, just to name a few.
With Asia being named as the world’s consumption growth engine – a $10 trillion consumption growth opportunity over the next decade – I decided to gather some business leaders across Asia Pacific to discuss what we believe are some of the emerging trends for the coming year and beyond.
Hitting the mainstream with autonomous driving
Autonomous cars, robots or drones seem very futuristic, but these driverless innovations are just around the corner. Car manufacturers are already developing autonomous vehicles with the aim to make them commercially available.
South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. recently announced the setting up of a self-driving technology test bed at its Namyang Research and Development centre to accelerate development and pilot testing of future mobility technologies. This will include the development of a control system for autonomous vehicles and construction of an autonomous parking tower. Similarly, China's largest automobile manufacturer SAIC Motor and autonomous driving start-up Momenta have begun offering autonomous robotaxis test rides to the public in Shanghai's Jiading district to gauge their viability for commercial use.
The automation of these driving data is only possible with location intelligence, and with such autonomous driving making big strides in Asia, the need for geospatial technology and artificial intelligence (AI) will be essential in the coming years.
Sustainability remains a hot topic across the world, and Asia is not an exception. With consumer preferences shifting towards more sustainable options, this trend is likely to influence the consumption patterns within the automotive industry in the form of electric vehicles (EVs) adoption.
In Japan, 50 to 60 per cent of vehicles sales are expected to be battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV), fuel cell EVs, hybrid EVs, or plug-in hybrid EVs by 2030. In India and Indonesia, this figure is between 30 and 50 per cent. Countries such as Australia, Japan, Thailand, and India have also started running preliminary test runs for electric trucks with swappable batteries, thanks to local government initiatives.
This trend is not limited to four-wheelers. In fact, two-wheelers are accelerating the EV trend in some parts of Asia. For instance, India is the world’s largest market for motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds – accounting for 80 per cent of its total sales.
The increase in EV adoption will result in automakers worldwide adjusting their product portfolio to tailor this rising demand, reshaping the value chain of the automotive industry. The need for location intelligence will thus become more prevalent as auto manufacturers seek greater supply chain efficiency, sustainability, and end-to-end visibility.
Say hello to more digital doppelgängers
The ongoing pandemic has accelerated a digital-first approach across industries. As a result, test beds for new and smart technology are increasing as countries race to develop technologies and urban solutions to change the way people live, work, and play in the smart cities of the future. One of the technologies used in these test sites is digital twin.
A digital twin is designed to receive data from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that gather information from a real-world, real-time counterpart. It leverages the information, combined with historical data, to predict a reaction or impact. This allows the twin to simulate the real-life object in real-time and provide insights and reveal potential problems or manage high-risk scenarios.
When it comes to smart city planning, digital twins simulate everything that is happening in the real-world smart city. We’ve seen more countries adopting the use of digital twins, such as in Australia, where New South Wales has announced that it will be investing AUD $40 million in a spatial digital twin to facilitate urban planning and development. Singapore is also developing a Grid Digital Twin to enhance the country’s grid resiliency and reliability to support the deployment of cleaner energy sources.
With digital twins picking up pace, it is imperative to understand that they will not be possible without location technology and the availability of sensors, image capture and processing, and data analysis technology. Essentially, location intelligence is the invisible thread linking all elements within digital twins and in turn, our smart cities of the future.
The rise and rise of Super Apps and the Internet of Behaviour
The idea of a super app first became a reality in China with WeChat, an app that allows people to communicate with one another, hail a ride, purchase groceries, and even book a doctor’s appointment. First launched in 2011, WeChat has become a ubiquitous part of everyday life in China, and it has probably inspired other popular super apps within Asia Pacific such as Grab, Paytm, Shopee, Gojek and more.
Data is a foundational component of super apps. As users spend more time within the app, more data is collected so better offerings can be presented for the individuals using it. This gives rise to the Internet of Behaviour (IoB), where the data provided by IoT devices sheds valuable information about users’ behaviour, interests, and preferences.
This presents an enormous opportunity for location intelligence to fuel the creation of new products and services that truly benefit end users based on their behaviours and preferences – all the while respecting the privacy of users. Soon, IoB will be the new buzz word as we start to place less emphasis on “things” and more on people’s behaviours. After all, the “things” are merely there for us to track people’s behaviours.
It's time to address the ‘where’ question
From the trends that I’ve outlined above, it’s clear that location intelligence is gaining ground in Asia Pacific. More businesses have started to recognise the value of location data and analytics and the competitive advantage it brings to every industry. As the pandemic continues to weigh on us as individuals, business, and society, organisations that implement location technology capabilities will benefit from opportunities to obtain better insights across their strategic, tactical, and operational analytics.
In our collective digital transformation journey, we’ve conquered the questions of ‘who are my audiences?’ or ‘what are my customers’ preferences?’. In the road ahead, business leaders need to start placing the ‘where’ in analytics – ‘where are my customers going to be?’ and ‘where are my customers right now?’ – to navigate new consumer trends and demands for success.
Views are personal. The author is Senior Vice President and General Manager Asia Pacific, HERE Technologies.
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