Huawei IoT: Capabilities Across the Solution Stack, but Low Mindshare in the Region

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

  • Huawei’s capability across IoT stacks offers a competitive advantage in the market.
  • Huawei has the potential to drive IoT adoption in the region through carriers. However, it has yet to leverage this unique advantage outside China.

The IoT ecosystem is complex, as it involves all technologies within IT and bridges IT with operational technologies (OT). As a technology company with core business in telecommunications equipment, IoT for Huawei is not just enabling NB-IoT features in carriers’ cellular network. The vendor is also leveraging its company-wide capabilities to play across the IoT stack. Its IoT portfolio includes the chipset, an operating system (OS) called LiteOS, an NB-IoT network through its radio access solution to carriers, security (through its 3T+1M approach), a platform, cloud, professional services and even an initiative to drive the ecosystem (through its OpenLab). While Cisco and Nokia can closely match this capability, Huawei’s key advantage is with its IoT chipset and OS.

Having end-to-end IoT capability provides Huawei with an advantage to offer a complete solution (also referred as ‘IoT as a service,’ or IoTaaS) to enterprises through its partners. While everything is based on open standards today, in most cases, interoperability tests are still required and integration between systems is still a huge challenge. IoTaaS from a single provider can address integration issues and offer better control and management, which often leads to a clearer path to achieve expected business outcomes and shorter RoI. This reflects the market demand, as GlobalData IoT research shows that two of the top three challenges encountered by Asian enterprises in delivering IoT projects are proving the value and justifying overall cost and RoI.

The same research reveals that 72% of IoT deployments in the region are at domestic level. As 69% of enterprises in the region are already using/planning to use cloud-based IoT platforms, the low latency and real-time communications in IoT are driving the need for edge computing and hence data residency requirements. In 2017, the webscale players have entered this space: AWS with Greengrass and Microsoft Azure IoT Central. However, the majority of the platforms available today are only hosted in key regional hubs such as Singapore, Australia, China, Japan and India. Hosting its IoT platform in carriers’ facilities provides Huawei with another advantage, mainly in addressing the edge computing and data residency requirements.

However, a good solution does not always guarantee success in the market. The mindshare of Huawei in the IoT space is still low in the region. Apart from China, Huawei has yet to leverage this unique advantage in the other parts of the region. The IoT market in a country is often lead by carriers. With strong relationships with many carriers in the region through network equipment deals, Huawei needs to extend the relationships beyond the traditional supplier-customer engagements. Apart from IoT solutions, Huawei should also leverage its IoT consulting capability to help carriers to build their IoT portfolio, especially in the developing markets. This model is proven to be successful. For example, Maxis has strengthened its IoT offerings in Malaysia through partnership with Vodafone in 2016.

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