How a holistic view of your business can help you reproduce optimal conditions for continued peak performance.
“A buzzword, part of a revolutionary chapter in history and, supposedly, a ‘must have’. But what does IoT really mean for business? How can it create a different opportunity landscape for Africa? DISRUPT with Mpumi Nhlapo – powered by T-Systems – chatted to the CEO of IoT.NXT, a company that has been recognised as an innovator in the Internet of Things and have received recognition and accolades from leading organisations and companies, Mr Nico Steyn.”
It was by chance that the founders of IoT.nxt fell into the industrial internet of things (IIoT) business.
Just around the corner from Durban, in a quiet corner of SA, Eric Croeser first fell in love with mining in his home town of Empangeni. Quick on his brightly-socked feet, and armed with a BSc in Mining and an MBA, Eric brings with him a deep understanding of complex mining operations, and what is needed to ensure they’re kept relevant, and productive, in the future. Although he fell into mining by chance, engineering has fascinated this natural-born problem solver.
Doggedly determined, Eric finished an MBA with a toddler running amok in his home. It could be because he’s a highly-skilled fly fisherman, able to focus on complex processes regardless of his surroundings, or because he’s one of the most driven people we know, incapable of giving up.
Drawn to the great outdoors and pushing boundaries to test what is humanly possible, Eric revels in being able to solve problems and balance productivity with the unpredictable nature of working with natural resources – all while going where few have been before.
Doing more with less is convoluted corporate jargon, unless you have a plan in place that helps action, monitor and fine-tune your strategy.
“We haven’t even begun to see the true value of industrial IoT applications being properly unlocked. We can see the near-immediate change we’re implementing for businesses, but there’s just so much more to be done.” – Eric Croeser, Director of Partnerships – Mining.
In business, we talk about doing more with less all the time. Typically, it refers to people and the down scaling of a labour force. Sometimes, it refers to cutting budgets and, every once in a while, it refers to resources, too.
Whilst a leaner approach to business is rarely a bad thing, it doesn’t mean anything unless you have a plan in place to ensure that your lean business is agile, monitored and able to draw the insights needed, without the man power they had before. If you want to do more with less, you need to equip your business to do so or risk failure or worse, future irrelevance.
Make IoT a part of your strategy
Faced with more complex environments, industries like mining, for example, are looking to find ways of economically mining remaining-complex ore-bodies. The urgent need to create leaner environments is forcing mining companies to do more with less.
We talk a lot about the benefits of IoT.nxt’s technology – it’s non-disruptive, it’s able to plug new equipment into the same dashboard as old gear and it’s scalable. It’s quick to show ROI, it’s comprehensive and it’ll give you insight into areas of your business that you thought would never be trackable. And then it’ll help you unlock true potential.
Automating processes, digitising operations and seeing far into the black holes they always knew were somewhere in their production lines, companies who have adopted IoT as a fundamental part of their digitalisation process are already starting to see a big difference in the day to day running of their businesses. So what comes next? Well, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s where data comes in.
Data, and then what?
Data is great, but it’s what you do with it that really matters. Pushing all data into a cloud or on-premise database can lead to a phenomenon of looking for a needle in a haystack. Once you start running your numbers through some BI and AI applications, and setting thresholds for real-time shifts in deployment you’ll start to see the true potential of IoT. Data filtration and orchestration at the edge are driving the organizational change by shifting the focus from ‘sensor to cloud’ to edge intelligence.
“It’s how this new technology is incorporated into business strategies that is key to unlocking its true potential, and greater productivity within an organisation. Equipping the right people with the right tools and empowering them to implement the changes they need to, quickly, are crucial for improving productivity, and guaranteed to open the innovation flood gates, too.” – Eric Croeser, Director of Partnerships – Mining.
New styles of people management are driven by data transparency.
“Developing our technology with African constraints in mind created competencies in areas global players wouldn’t think of.”- Nico Steyn, CEO and Co-Founder, IoT.nxt.
It was by chance that our founders fell into the IoT business, but sheer industriousness, and a dogged determination to create a system that worked, no matter what, that have kept us here.
Faced with the typical African connectivity constraints – poor connection and low bandwidth – and the realisation that any viable solution would have to be able to work offline without flooding a network when reconnecting, our intrepid leaders started building.
Little did they know, those same constraints would shape our technology stack into one that would be globally competitive, suiting even the most rugged industrial sectors.
“It’s not enough to be able to handle network down-time. IIoT solutions have to be able to determine what must be transmitted – the crucial information – once a connection is re-established, so that networks and systems aren’t flooded and overloaded with potentially irrelevant data and, subsequently, commands.” – Nico Steyn, CEO and Co-Founder, IoT.nxt.
These constraints have to be thought of early on in the solution development process. Workflows have to be designed in ways that avoid potential data overload on the network, managing the bulk of information at the edge before sending intelligent data on. Well, if they want to be competitive with ours, at least.
Is your operation geared up to face the 4th Industrial Revolution, or will your networks hold you back?
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Africa’s 4th Industrial Revolution: Answering the big questions
First we were liberated from animal power, then came mass production and then digital availability. Now, we’re in the age of interconnectivity – the fusing together of all worlds to create connected ecosystems.
Populations continue to grow, land continues to be plundered and the industries creating food, fuel and other vital resources are under more pressure than ever to keep performance at a maximum, whilst ensuring longevity.
Africa, vast and isolated as it often seems, is not lagging by any means. Necessity breeds innovation, and in no place is this more true than in Africa. The adoption of digitalisation technologies will make African enterprises more productive and globally competitive.
Weighing in on digital transformation in Africa
IoT.nxt, while rapidly expanding into other markets including Europe, the Far East and the US, was born in South Africa – often regarded as the innovation tip of Africa. Doing business in Africa presents massive opportunities, but also comes with unique challenges, and often these challenges force companies to think creatively and develop highly competitive solutions that are world-leading. On this front, IoT.nxt is indeed leading the global charge in the Internet of Things (IoT) with its edge capabilities.