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‘As an innovation leader, Bosch is shaping and driving transformation’

Interview - October 23, 2018

Martin Hayes, President of Bosch Singapore, discusses the company’s involvement in Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, and its engagement in the ASEAN region, which he says, has the potential to be a “leader in digitalization”. As an innovation leader, Bosch can help to drive the digital transformation across Southeast Asia.



What are your expectations of ASEAN in the coming years? How do you believe Singapore's leadership through the ASEAN Summit this year might impact the region through digitalization and innovation?

ASEAN is home to over 600 million people; around 60% of the population is under the age of 35. Together, the bloc represents the fastest-growing internet region in the world with over 480 million users by 2020. With a relatively young population with a strong interest in technology, ASEAN is in a prime position for technology driven growth, digital economy, and tech-savviness to prosper.

While infrastructure investment would lead to improvement in domestic and regional connectivity, rapid adoption of new technology by ASEAN member countries would be the biggest driver of economic growth and integration for decades to come.

Singapore is seen as a technology and innovation lighthouse for other ASEAN countries. With the wealth of knowledge, experience, and skilled workforce that has long been ahead of the curve, we hope to see Singapore engage in more cross-border, knowledge-sharing initiatives. This way, other ASEAN markets that are at varying stages of development are able to catch-up and succeed.

Innovation can also be developed faster in Singapore due to the country’s dynamic innovation ecosystem. Country specific business models and innovation for localization and scalability are more likely to thrive here.

Digitalization of traditional business sectors such as agriculture is another topic on how innovation can push ASEAN countries to prosper and stay relevant amidst the digital revolution. Singapore is fast becoming the region’s leader in urban farming and aquaculture and this expertise can be shared across other ASEAN countries. Currently, there are around 200 food farms in Singapore producing fish, eggs and vegetable – 15 of which are indoor farms.

ASEAN can be the leader in digitalization. It is only through innovation that we can achieve regional economic integration, and enhance regional connectivity. Beyond its connection to ASEAN’s core original values, Singapore can be a link to the future. One of the biggest shared challenges for the region is how to remain economically vibrant and overcome the ‘middle income trap’.


Singapore is a test bed for new technologies and a country that is very open to incorporating disruption. We see it as a result of the Committee for the Future Economy (CFE), the 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) which is a symbol of Singapore's pragmatism and forward-thinking. How important is it for you to be able to count on Singapore as a region which is undergoing its own digital transformation while as a company, you are going through a similar journey?

Singapore leads the region in economic development, urban planning, and technological advancement. The country also consistently explores new ventures to drive advancements with initiatives such as smart nation, urban mobility, and factory automation – in all Singapore is set up to become a global player. This is very much aligned with Bosch’s digital transformation and mission for the future.

For Bosch, smart cities exemplify our vision – creating technologies that are invented for life to make living better, more convenient and sustainable. Let’s take an example from the domain of connected buildings. Bosch has developed IoT-based solutions, such as elevator monitoring that connects all relevant technology components to enable users to access real-time elevator data. This is available on the cloud anywhere, anytime, helping to improve the efficiency of predictive maintenance. Another key solution is air quality monitoring. This involves measuring several air-quality parameters, allowing users to pinpoint any problems with indoor air and helps building managers make decisions that ensure a pleasant indoor climate.

Another fast-moving area, is urban mobility, which aims to improve convenience, safety, and efficiency through connectivity. The possibilities are endless and reach from vehicle fleets, parking spaces, freight cars to even rail transport. Bosch solutions like connected parking, vehicle safety systems and driver assistance systems, make the cities of tomorrow free of accidents, stress, and as close to emission free as possible.

As an innovation leader, Bosch is shaping and driving transformation. The strategy is to take our existing expertise in hardware, software and services forward, opening up new areas of business and occupy a technologically leading position.


Bosch is present in many different market segments from manufacturing to automobile to power tools. IoT seems to be your most predominant market segment today. What is the potential for IoT and for your own transformation here in Southeast Asia?

For Bosch, connectivity is more than just technology. Connectivity affects all areas of life. Connectivity makes mobility easier, cities smarter, and factories more productive. The internet of things (IoT) makes life safer and more convenient as well as industries more efficient and resource-conserving. That is why Bosch is investing large sums in its IoT business and expanding its expertise, above all in the field of services. This is the case for traditional areas of business, in which Bosch has been a leading supplier of technology and solutions for more than 130 years, especially for the automotive sector. At the same time, new business models are developing outside traditional sectors, for example in connected manufacturing, agriculture, buildings and software solutions.

Connectivity and digitization are among our top business growth drivers in Southeast Asia and we are well positioned here. Firstly, our research and development arm is present in various locations in Southeast Asia– each focusing on a specific area of development. For example, the research development team in Singapore focuses on corporate research, software innovations and building technology, while the team in Vietnam focuses on automotive software and engineering.

We are also seeing strong traction in the areas of industrial IoT like manufacturing, mobility, connected buildings and agriculture. At present, Bosch has already introduced several products and solutions in the region that show our expertise in the broad field of IoT. Take the Bosch IoT Suite Portal and Developer Console for example. These platforms are the backbone in helping developers make buildings connected, easy to maintain and energy efficient. Data such as indoor air quality parameters, elevator or light monitoring can be easily gathered with Bosch sensors.

In terms of implementations, we rolled out several enhanced digitization and manufacturing capabilities within our regional network to meet market needs on a deeper level. For example, last year we opened our very first smart factory in ASEAN, in Thailand’s Rayong province, which incorporates Industry 4.0 competencies to support local and international automobile production. Investments into our existing plant in Dong Nai, Vietnam to turn it into a smart factory was recently increased.

At the same time, we are also collaborating with local partners and tertiary education institutions to drive IoT further. In July this year, we partnered with Singapore Polytechnic to develop the first SP-Bosch Smart Connected Solutions Lab and SP-Bosch Rexroth Industry 4.0 Innovation lab on the polytechnic’s campus. Equipped with Bosch equipment and technologies, the lab also features a unique scaled-down version of an actual smart factory system that reflects the future of production and distribution in manufacturing companies. Students will learn to programme and integrate smart sensors with augmented reality into the smart factory system. They will also learn how to analyze and tap on big data to further optimize the manufacturing processes such as production and storage that are being used in the industry today. This marks a new practical approach to training students in advanced manufacturing.

We recognized the potential of connectivity early and have been actively shaping the IoT world in Southeast Asia and we look forward to supporting the region through our connected products, services, and solutions.


Singapore and ASEAN are not only important for your revenue here but also to export all the solutions to the rest of the world. Could you comment on the synergies that you had between ASEAN and some of the mature markets like the EU or the U.S. in terms of exporting innovation and ideas out of ASEAN?

Innovation cycles are becoming shorter especially in today’s world of disruption and new development must be brought to the market faster. Bosch are able to support markets with this as we possesses the competencies, capabilities and scalability due to our network of associates around the world. This allows for interdisciplinary partnerships and collaborations across the globe.


In 2017, you were awarded Friend of ASEAN for breaking barriers and making remarkable social and economic impact in Southeast Asia. How important is that commitment with ASEAN and to be able to work as partners moving forward for integrating mutual beneficial relationship between the different entities?

Receiving the award is timely for us as Bosch in Southeast Asia will be celebrating our centennial anniversary next year. We are here for the long run. We want to continue creating value, engaging with society and help make a difference in a rapidly globalizing world.

Giving back to the community is important for the longevity and success in the region. With a focus on education, Bosch provides learning tools, scholarships, and develops curriculums with vocational institutes and tertiary institutions to raise the education standards and skills of students and the local workforce across Southeast Asia.

The philanthropic spirit is also inculcated and encouraged to all Bosch associates. During the relief and reconstruction phases after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, Bosch as a company, its associates, and its associate-driven charity Primavera, donated cash, as well as constructed classrooms and a library in Cebu. In Cambodia, Bosch associates joined the Habitat for Humanity in its Habitat Young Leaders Build project to fix roads and houses for an underprivileged community.


How do you impact the lives of people in ASEAN through your IoT solutions?

Innovations and solutions at Bosch focus on the human aspect and benefits to mankind. Whether connected mobility, manufacturing, logistics, energy systems or smart building technology, Bosch’s strategy is to put its entire range of products and services on the internet. We are connecting our products step by step and offer new services that ensure the safety, sustainability and livability of cities and communities. This is the heartbeat of Invented for Life – essentially what drives us to look towards further implementations and deeper integration in the region.


Do you have any last comment that you would like to share with your entities in Asia or ASEAN?

ASEAN has vast potential for further growth should current challenges beaddressed. Firstly, standardization of rules and regulations within the ASEAN countries is crucial in order to be competitive. At present, different rules and regulations exist at the cross-border level and this hinders progress, for example new technologies to thrive.

Another key challenge is to create a single market and production base through free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and a freer flow of capital – which leads to facilitation of foreign direct investment. While the opening of frontier economies such as Myanmar have presented huge opportunities for foreign investors, gaps still exist in terms of increasing allowable foreign ownership in markets such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.