A year and a half later, nerdy’s still in style – Dattabot’s become the first startup in the world to tie-up with GE Digital, General Electric’s IT division. Dattabot CEO Regi Wahyu and Wayah Suroto, General Electric’s digital leader for Indonesia, announced the news at the Tech in Asia Jakarta 2016 conference.
Through the partnership Dattabot will lend its data analytics capabilities to GE’s power plants in the country, allowing for constant real-time tracking and monitoring of machines that may break down.
Bringing up the phrase “startups in Indonesia” may lead one to think of consumer-focused industries like ecommerce. Regi and Wayah have their sights set on streamlining industry players within the country. According to them, Internet of Things (IoT) is the way to go.
In answer to the question, “What lies in Indonesia’s IoT future?” Regi’s answer is simple: the future’s already here.
“There are over 100 sensors in this room,” Regi says, nodding to the ballroom-sized space where we, the audience, sit. IoT gadgets often involve sensors that collect data and send information over an internet connection to another sensor where the information can be read and interpreted. The word “sensor” doesn’t have to refer to something as complex-sounding as a smart home, though. An air conditioning sensor, Regi points out, is “one of the smartest sensors that manufacturers produce.” He brings up sensor use in agriculture and fisheries as other examples.
Keeping the lights on
When it comes to monitoring the stability of power grids, smart sensors can make all the difference.
The timing may still not be perfect, but days warning is much better than hours.
A few months ago, one of my colleagues in Indonesia experienced a power outage while her laptop was nearly out of power. She wasn’t in a building that had a backup generator at the time, and we quickly worked together to transfer her work so I could help her hit her deadline.
GE entered Indonesia in the 1940s, when many millennials’ parents had yet to be born. Over 70 years later, its current sensor technology allows the company three hours warning before a blackout occurs. By using Dattabot’s analytics power to gather round-the-clock data from power plants, employees may now get 10 days’ warning when machines are about to break down.
The timing may still not be perfect, depending on the problem, but days warning is much better than hours. That’s time that doesn’t just translate into convenience but money as well. “In a power plant, if you have an unplanned shutdown, there will be also a huge loss for the owner of the property,” Wayah says.
IoT in the city
Dattabot’s users are considered the first owners of their information, and have the option to opt-in or out of Dattabot’s data mining. Work on GE’s machine sensors has begun already, a team effort that involves input from GE in all corners, including the company’s Bangalore office, which develops the company’s engines and machines.
Choosing to work with Dattabot was a big step and one that GE is willing to expand on, depending on the way this tie-up works out. Wayah doesn’t rule out the possibility of further investments or partnerships.
The IoT ecosystem in Indonesia remains in its nascent stage – partially, as Wayah reminds the audience, because even five years ago, the country’s internet was nowhere near ready to support such technology. IoT events, much like GE and Dattabot’s partnership, tend to center around big enterprises. Smaller IoT startups like eFishery, which uses sensors to feed fish, exist but have yet swim in a school that makes a splash.
Jakarta aims to be a smart city and launched its program in 2014. That entails connecting its citizens with traffic information via smartphone, as well as the creation of an app through which people can report civil incidents like floods or fires. An IoT tie-up like Dattabot and GE Digital’s could help push progress forward in the workplace as well as in Indonesia’s education system.
“It’s important to show that a startup can collaborate with a big giant company,” Regi tells the audience. Knowing the nature of startups, though, that’s going to require some flexibility on the part of larger enterprises, including a more leeway for mistakes.
“One of the most important [opportunities] about IoT is not just about connecting machines – that’s the basic platform we have. The most important [thing] is getting the insight,” Wayah says. Unlimited insight means unlimited possibilities.