- Maxis is enhancing its IoT portfolio with Microsoft Azure to deliver solutions more efficiently and provide flexibility in the market.
- While it is a positive move, Maxis could consider integrating Azure features into its IoT network, collaborate on MEC and strengthen its professional services capabilities.
Maxis recently announced its partnership with Microsoft to enhance its IoT portfolio (note: the partnership also includes cloud and UC, but this article discusses the IoT collaboration). Through the partnership, Maxis will be using Microsoft Azure IoT in its offering. Azure is ranked as ‘very strong’ by GlobalData in the ‘Enterprise IoT Platforms’ category and stands out with its development capabilities such as IoT Toolkit, its open source platform and initiatives with the developer community. Azure IoT is also used by many leading carriers in their IoT solutions, including AT&T, Singtel, Telstra and Vodafone. For Maxis, this partnership provides a significant upgrade to its previous M2M platform that has been in place for many years. Microsoft Azure IoT enables Maxis to address various limitations of its IoT solutions, such as offering more flexible and scalable deployments through the cloud-based platform. The AI, machine learning and analytics capabilities supported by Azure IoT provide the carrier with better data visibility and hence enable the carrier deliver its IoT solution more efficiently. The open source and API capabilities provide Maxis a platform to expand its vertical offerings and offer better integration with customers’ existing systems. Besides, the Azure Stack and IoT Edge enable Maxis to offer low-latency applications and address the growing edge-compute demand. However, the Microsoft Azure IoT platform will not sell by itself and the partnership is not exclusive. Besides viewing this as a platform upgrade, Maxis should look at other ways to achieve differentiation in its IoT business.
While it is a positive move for Maxis to finally upgrade its IoT platform, there are several other areas Maxis could consider to gain a competitive edge in the market. First, Maxis could consider integrating the Azure IoT capabilities into its network to offer orchestration and automation of applications and workloads across device, network and cloud domains. This will not only offer more efficient service delivery, but also provide Maxis with a unique advantage as a carrier since the Azure IoT solution is also available to enterprises directly or through Microsoft’s non-telco partners. Next, Maxis could also extend the partnership to collaborate on 5G multi-access edge compute (MEC) in order to explore and develop new enterprise use cases. Leading telcos in mature markets such as AT&T have already started their MEC initiatives through partnerships with hyperscalers. As 5G is expected to be commercially ready in the country in the second half of 2020, having MEC capability will provide the carrier an early-mover advantage and enable it to capture the increasing demand for edge compute.
The managed IoT service opportunity is still huge in Malaysia. Most deployments today are still based on DIY IoT, in which the hardware and software are procured separately and the applications are developed and managed in-house. While DIY IoT is common for larger enterprises wanting greater control, the lack of internal skillset and integration challenges often lead to failure for SMBs in achieving their expected business outcomes. While there is a growing trend of enterprises moving from DIY IoT to managed services, there is still a lack of providers in the country that can offer end-to-end solutions comprising the whole IoT stack (e.g., device, connectivity, platform, security, applications, services). It is also important for Maxis to strengthen its professional service capabilities in IoT to close the gap and capture the increasing demand. IoT selling is often led by business outcome rather than technical capabilities. Having strong professional service capabilities (e.g., advisory/consulting, migration, integration, service management, support) enables Maxis to understand enterprise demand, deliver the solutions more efficiently and help customers achieve their expected business outcomes.