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Bosch’s journey from a “things” company to an IoT company
January 20, 2020 News


With a history of over 130 years and 97 years presence in Malaysia, Bosch continues to be a household name for both home and enterprises. The company’s diversified business in Malaysia has been progressing well over the decades, achieving significant growth as well. Today, Bosch Malaysia is the hub for innovation and products in Southeast Asia.


According to Simon Song, Managing Director, Malaysia and Digital Solutions, ASEAN, Bosch’s strategy focuses on the three things which are sensors, software and service. These are very different from a pure manufacturing strategy. While IoT devices are the talk of most organisations today, Simon said Bosch has always been a “things” company, and their transformation journey started about eight years ago.


Simon explained that Bosch looks into four different elements in its digital transformation journey. First is the transformation of talents. Bosch is actively growing software experts and engineers and has built up to 30, 000 software engineers worldwide. This signifies the move to become an IoT company. Secondly, Bosch is actively training employees on Artificial Intelligence knowledge. Simon said Bosch targets to have 20,000 engineers to be AI savvy in the next two years.


Next is product. Simon pointed out that every product designed by Bosch will have an IoT element in it, be it connected or the capability to connect. By 2025, all Bosch products will have an AI element in it or build manufacture supported by AI technology. Lastly, it is investments. Bosch continues to invest more in Research & Development. They have also invested 100 million Euros to build an AI campus in Germany.


“All these complementary elements will support the group transformation of Bosch to be a leading IoT company. For Research & Development itself, there are four key pillars of business that Bosch is focused on which are the automotive sector, industry sector, consumer sector and the energy and building sector.”



Explaining further, Simon said for automotive, Bosch is very much into electric mobility which includes battery management, electric power trains and autonomous driving. This includes robotic taxi tests conducted in the US. In the industry sector, Simon pointed out Bosch is working on its IR4.0 solution development which includes sensors, IoT gateways, software, robotics and AGVs.


Looking at the consumer element, Simon explained that Bosch’s R&D is focusing on residential IoT development for the smart home platform to connect all home devices. For the energy and building sector, Bosch is working on smart building to connect all business industry elements such as smart security and more.


IR4.0 in Malaysia


“We have been in Malaysia for 97 years and have the largest workforce for Bosch in Southeast Asia. All our business units are represented here. We are the most important hub in the region as all our technology for the region will start its launch in Malaysia. But it’s just based on market sentiments and market needs. IoT based technology in Malaysia has strong initiatives. We are partnering with government agencies on IR4.0 initiatives.”


Bosch is one of the initial partners for the Digital Transformation Acceleration Program with MDEC to help the government promote IR4.0. They are also partnering a local education agency in Kedah, which is a skills and management development centre that uses Bosch educational tools to train students and workers to be IR4.0 ready. At the same time, Bosch also hosts masterclasses for SMEs to introduce them to IR4.0 solutions.


“There is a mix reaction from SMEs in Malaysia when it comes to IR4.0 solutions. They are aware of the technology but are not sure of what they want or how it can help them. Most of them are still in the early stage on picking up and also are considering it financially if it’s viable. Education is the key to prepare them. Our masterclass gives them the knowledge to know what it means and how it can benefit them. There is a lot of misinterpretation when it comes to costs. It all depends on their pain points. SMEs can work on small solutions for immediate benefits.”


Securing IoT devices


With the growing number of connected devices, cybersecurity will always be a concern which can also affect the adoption of technology. Simon commented that as a German company, Bosch is very conservative and would never launch any product if it can be breached. He added that Bosch looks at security in two ways. Firstly, they have an internal cybersecurity team to ensure all product development from design till being manufactured are well protected. Secondly, Bosch ensured cybersecurity through the adopt of Bosch private cloud. When organisations adopt a hybrid cloud strategy, they can store their critical workloads on the Bosch Cloud as a private cloud. In Southeast Asia, the Bosch Cloud is hosted in Singapore following its launch last year.


The same elements are also applied when it comes to smart cities. The advantage Bosch has is that its technology can touch on different aspects of city usage. Among the solutions available from Bosch for smart cities include traffic management, building management, parking management, energy management, climate monitoring and camera-based intelligence video analytics, all of which can fit into any smart city applications.


Simon highlighted some of Bosch’s collaboration in India, whereby Bosch is on the panel for smart Indian cities. In Singapore, Bosch is a partner in the ASEAN smart city network and is also involved in Putrajaya for its smart city initiative in building camera-based solutions. Interestingly, Simon also highlighted that Bosch’s solutions are on an open platform which allows it to work on all systems.


Innovating the future

Moving forward, Simon said Bosch’s aim to continue to grow their business in Malaysia.


“We want to introduce new products into the country, and we want to manage digital transformation for organisations. We also want to continue our efforts to help employees transform actively.”


He added that new technology from Bosch such as the Virtual Visors and Smart Glasses that were recently premiered at CES 2020, is no surprise looking at the amount of Research and Development Bosch is focusing in the area. He concluded it takes time for technology to mature and be commercialised, but Malaysia is a preferred location when it comes to market new products as the environment is filled with tech-savvy consumers.