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ASEAN Diversity and the 'Internet of Things' (IoT)

Singapore is Well-Known as a Global IoT Leader, but Which ASEAN Nation is Most Dynamic?

I'll be heading to Southeast Asia immediately following our upcoming @CloudExpo @ThingsExpo in Santa Clara. I'll rekindle some previous business relationships I had when I lived in the region in 2009-2012. I'll also investigate new ways to bring the messages of socio-economic growth through Cloud Computing, Big Data/Analytics, and the Internet of Things.

Our team focus for the next two months is on producing the best event ever in Santa Clara. We're well on the way. (It's easy to keep up with the latest developments.)

From Talk to Action
But as I read about a job opening with ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asion Nations), a job for which I'm spectacularly unqualified in many respects, I'm reminded of the uniqueness of this region and its potential.

ASEAN has been criticized in the past as merely a "talk shop," a place in which many government functionaries huff and puff but at which little is accomplished. I prefer to be more optimistic. The organization is surprisingly far along a path of liberalizing trade, EU and NAFTA style, and talks explicitly of regional peace and perhaps a unified currency some day.

The challenge is very difficult. The organization was almost shunned by Western leaders as it grappled with how to handle the military dictatorship of Myanmar, former Burma. Yet today the country has loosened things a bit, foreign businesspeople, NGOs, and tourists are getting in, and the economic potential of a nation of 50 million people with a glorious past is closer to being realized than it has been in decades.

Complexity as a Virtue

The ASEAN nations comprise a highly complex fabric of languages and cultures that make the entirety of Europe seem rather simple and drab by comparison.

Try to get a grip on, say, Thai, Vietnamese, and Tagalog at the same time and you'll get the idea. If you're a religious sort, you'll encounter myriad varieties of Abrahamism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, with some local syncretism thrown in for extra spice. There are also more than 600 million people here, twice the population of the United States.

So I'm looking forward to spending some more time there. The region is jut up against the two giants of glowering China and ambitious India, with Hong Kong and Taiwan also in the neighborhood. The northern Asian economic engines of Japan and South Korea are reached in reasonable flights; even Australia and New Zealand are not unduly accessible and in the same region of time zones.

Take Heed
So here's my buried lead to this story: the ASEAN Secretariat, headquartered in Jakarta, should take notice of what we're accomplishing with @CloudExpo @ThingsExpo and the research we're doing at the Tau Institute.

The technology and solutions more than 7,500 visitors will see in Santa Clara in November are ripe for adoption throughout the world. We live in a time of near-instant communications and wildfire-like global adoption of new technology, when the governments of nations are willing to embrace it.

Singapore is, of course, the most developed, and remain heads-and-shoulders above its fellow members. The place can still astonish the Western visitor, even those aware of its starting economic development over the past few decades. Singapore is now among the world leaders in deploying IoT technology to continue to improve itself.

Yet Singapore is also a city-state and doesn't have to grapple with the needs of the tens of millions of people populating most other ASEAN nations.

Who is Most Dynamic?
So our research digs beneath the surface to find who is doing the best on a relative basis, ie, who is doing the most with the economic resources that have? This research has shown that (perhaps ironically) Communist Vietnam leads the ASEAN region in its rate of adoption relative to its income level; Vietnam is the most dynamic of the ASEAN regions, edging out Singapore. They are followed in our rankings by Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

The region's largest nationa, Indonesia, now a member of the G20 and Jim O'Neil's new MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey) designation, trails most of its ASEAN siblings. I'd be glad to explain why.

We have copious amounts of other data on this region, with different measurements for long-term rates of change, immediate rates of change, challenges facing each nation on a per-person basis, challenges facing each nation on a total population basis, and much more.

I'm looking forward to spreading the word about our shows and research after the long flight to this highly dynamic, hugely interesting part of the world.

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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