Taiwan is positioning itself as an international trade island, against the backdrop of digital transformation around the world. In 2018, Taiwan’s export value exceeded NT$11.6 trillion, of which 1/3 was from the sale of electronic components. The electronics industry remains the pillar of Taiwan’s exports. At this juncture, we believe that international trade in Taiwan requires innovation and change, by enhancing both the quality and value of exports. First, we should step up the export of turnkey systems by combining hardware and software and offering value-added services for tech products. Second, we should identify the niche markets by providing software services and digitalization technology to the rest of the world. As digital transformation is ongoing on a global scale, we must establish a new ecosystem for tech services and cater to the international demand by transforming our digital industry. This will create new opportunities for industries in Taiwan.
Duplication of Taiwan’s Experience: E-Gates in Philippine Airports
The IT sector in Taiwan is known for its strong technical competence. MiTAC Information Technology’s automatic customs clearance system at the airport is one of the best examples. The E-Gates at the airports in Taiwan which went online on January 1, 2012 were the brainchild of MiTAC Information Technology, one of the top three system integrators in Taiwan. E-Gate is a solution comprising of automatic customs clearance, arrival/departure inspections, and automatic gates. The automatic customs clearance module consists of functions such as facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, barcode reading and passport identification. MiTAC’s E-Gate solutions have shortened the average time for going through airport customs inspection for Taiwanese people from 30 seconds to 12 seconds. As of today, the number of registered users in Taiwan exceeds 5 million. More than 50 million passengers have used the system.
The success story of E-Gate in Taiwan is the best example of international promotion. Government officials from the Philippines experienced first-hand the efficiency of the automatic customs at Taoyuan Airport and decided to introduce the system into the Philippines. The international airports in the Philippines accommodate a large number of inbound and outbound passengers each year. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila received nearly 42.02 million passengers in 2017, ranking 44th in the world. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Bureau of Immigration of the Philippines are planning to install an automatic customs system to shorten the queuing time for passengers and strengthen the control of its borders. Ascent Solutions, an IT company from Singapore, approached MiTAC to join the bidding together.
The rollout of automatic customs inspection in Philippine international airports has significantly shortened the queuing time from 45 seconds to 8-15 seconds. This achievement was widely acclaimed by local governments. As the system integrator, MiTAC worked with electrical machinery, monitoring and communication companies in Taiwan to export the software and hardware system to the international market. This project received the award from 2019 Smart Cities & IoT for system integration and export.
Groundhog Technologies: Development of Mobile Data & Software Services
Taiwan boasts a pool of high-caliber technical talent in software development. The focus of the software industry is on identifying niche markets. Only by setting their sights on the right niche market, can the industry create its differentiated offerings and services accordingly. The targeting of highly mature market segments risks the loss of competitive advantage if benchmarked against leading players.
Groundhog Technologies, founded in 2001, was the first tech firm in the world to develop Big Data competences by focusing on consumers’ behavior of using mobile phones by building on technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company started by providing signal optimization services for telecom operators. It then began to provide mobile user data analytics by establishing a presence in the U.S., China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Portugal and France. Groundhog Technologies has gradually expanded its footprint from the US/European markets to South East Asia and the Middle East. Vodafone in the U.K, Singtel in Singapore and all the three mobile operators in Taiwan are its clients.
David Chiou, the founder of Groundhog Technologies, is aiming for the global market. When the company was still in its fledgling stage and not well known, he reached out to the relevant personnel of prospective customers via LinkedIn or spoke with experienced business partners such as retired consultants from telecom service companies. They helped Groundhog Technologies identify the right contact windows, introduce consultants form other countries and develop more markets and businesses.
Groundhog Technologies is a pioneer of its products. This is one of the key success factors. It has a clear market positioning, by translating its technology into an effective business model. It is essential to recruit and retain talent. Excess profits should be distributed among employees in an effort to improve the work environment. Software is a growing sector in Taiwan with leading international firms setting up R&D centers here. Groundhog Technologies has been gradually shifting its focus to Taiwan in order to service clients in the Middle East and South East Asia. Different services and business models will be on the table for 5G customers as they were for the customers in the era of 2G, 3G and 4G.
Next Target for Taiwan Tech: New Tech Services
Taiwan is known for its talents in software and system integration. The integration and development capabilities of tech system providers in Taiwan is also highly thought of in the global market. In addition to showcasing our abilities to foreign clients visiting Taiwan, we should also be proactive in extending out footprint and enhancing our visibility overseas via online platforms and international seminars in different domains. Currently, the Taiwan government is organizing Taiwan booths at the world’s largest tradeshows such as CES and MWC, to help Taiwanese companies progress toward internationalization. The industries in Taiwan must accelerate digitalization and service transformation in order to become new tech service providers based on emerging technologies. With the creation of a new ecosystem for tech services, companies in Taiwan will be able to sail into the blue oceans of the world.