Acer’s commitment to cloud services was a bold announcement for the company four years ago, and since then it’s been steadily working on offering robust cloud solutions for the B2B market.
It hasn’t been an easy journey, but the company is determined to offer the easiest and most reliable solutions to its various markets. At the helm is Maverick Shih, President, Smart BYOC Products, who is ensuring that Acer becomes a go-to solutions provider for cloud services. From enterprises to government needs, Shih predicts a huge need for responsive cloud solutions, and that’s exactly where he wants Acer to step in.
We sat down with Shih to find out how the BYOC business is shaping up, and how Acer is improving everything from taxi services to staying in touch with parents.
Acer started with cloud services a few years ago, and put you in charge of things at the company. How has the cloud arm of Acer been shaping up so far and what is your focus for this year?
We’ve been working hard on being a separate focus within the company. We’ve had great successes so far, as an example with grandPad in the US, for seniors staying in touch with their families. It’s being going really strong and people really love the device, so much so that we’re chasing parts for manufacturing on time.
There are things we’re working on now to connect existing devices that have been around for a while, but through our IoT platform. Once they’re connected, all the data that’s coming in can later be used to drive AI platforms.
We’ve been working in the computing industry for a very long time now, and even branching out to new technologies like AI within computing. The cloud and IoT are things we will continue to focus on at Acer, so I’m excited for the future.
Will the cloud services strike a chord for both consumer and enterprise markets or are you leaning more towards one than the other?
We are very B2B with providing IoT cloud services to other third parties. One of our values with BYOC is that the customer always owns their data. They have complete control over their data, even if they hire us to manage it for them. We can help customers with storage as well, so in our BYOC stack of services there is a security element to ensure that everything is stored securely and safely.
As an example, in Taiwan we provide cybersecurity services to banking and government sectors. We’re also helping to connect utilities across the nation, so for us cybersecurity is very important and a top priority for us. Antivirus is not cybersecurity, and that’s what people are realizing now.
Banking is a very exposed area because of all the transactions involved, while government security is also very important against cyberattacks. These are the two largest areas at the moment, but there will be more to come as IoT gets more and more connected.
Internet of Things is such a huge buzzword, but you’re taking it a step further with the Internet of Beings – care to elaborate?
‘Being’ comes from human beings, and we think it’s important that all these services are centered around humans, which is why we call it Internet of Beings. Rather than it just being another small sensor on a device, we want it to become so much more.
You also want to provide smart-city solutions such as transportation and healthcare – can you elaborate?
One of the biggest taxi dispatch systems in Taiwan was having a problem where customers were calling to book a taxi, but it was taking more than six minutes to get a taxi to their location. By that time the customer would probably just flag down a taxi from the street, even if they have a taxi reserved.
So we took historical data from taxis that were ordered and used our AI technology to predict certain areas and times where more taxis are needed. In this way when a customer calls, a taxi is able to arrive in half the time. For the drivers it also means that they’re getting more business, which is also very encouraging.
This is just one example of what we’ve been doing. It’s a navigation process for us – we discover things in phases and try things to see what works the best. There are for sure things that are coming, but it just needs time to warm up to the market.
Are you going to leverage your knowledge and experience as a hardware provider in order to more easily introduce your cloud offerings to the market?
For sure – when it comes to the future, AI, IoT, and cloud services all need a strong base. You can’t just rely on a two-year old startup to manage your important data and cloud services, so for us that underlying trust is there with our brand.
Where do you see BYOC making the most impact?
Firstly will be helping companies to make a digital transformation with both our PCs and cloud platform. The ecosystem is missing a few components, but we’re working with some key partners to make these happen. There’s a strong need for data scientists to help with this, but the people just aren’t there in the market.
Only companies who process a large volume of data such as Google and afford to do things in-house. Other companies can’t handle this sort of task, so we’re working with specialist institutes to train people to have these skills. We’re offering our services to them so they can learn data processing, AI, and other necessary skills.