Hiring spree at Vodacom-backed IoT.nxt

Hiring spree at Vodacom-backed IoT.nxt

ITWeb June 2020

While some companies are laying off employees as a result of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vodacom-backed Internet of things (IOT) solutions provider IoT.nxt is in a recruitment drive.

So says Nico Steyn, co-founder of IoT.nxt, in an interview with ITWeb. According to Steyn, the company has witnessed a 56% growth in its workforce during the past year.

Telecommunications company Vodacom last year acquired a majority 51% stake in IoT.nxt in order to tap into opportunities presented by IOT.

It said the acquisition would aid in moving the company a couple of notches up in terms of servicing the 4.5 million connections that already exist in this space.

According to Steyn, the adoption of IOT strategies and solutions has accelerated in the past year as companies seek new and efficient ways to drive their businesses forward.

“When the impact of COVID-19 hit the world, the interest in technology and how companies can utilise new ways of doing this amidst the challenges delivered further strong growth for IoT.nxt,” he says.

Read the full article via ITWeb.

Are companies prepared for mandatory screening protocols?

Are companies prepared for mandatory screening protocols?

Financial Mail June 2020

Local firms have come up with solutions for a business sector that suddenly has to comply with new protocols for health and safety. New tech solutions to curb the spread of Covid-19 have been developed quickly with the potential to replace manual processes for sanitary and social distancing measures, temperature screening and managing quarantine.

Datacentrix has a smart fever-screening solution that is contactless and reads the temperature of multiple people simultaneously. Its thermal handheld screener works from a distance of 1.5m-3m, and its long-range bullet camera is able to get temperature data 4.5m-9m away which it says is accurate up to 0.5°C-0.3°C. The devices are Wi-Fi enabled and offer the monitoring of thermal and optical high-quality images. Data is secured by means of access control, including IP address filtering and encryption.

Pretoria-based IoT.nxt has created a product called CoVision to help companies manage the distancing of people and vehicle counting as well as queue monitoring using low-cost hardware.

Nico Steyn, CEO of IoT.nxt, says CoVision is paired with a smartphone or the CoVision Raptor with a camera to measure the number of people walking along a passage or entrance. This enables tracking in shopping centres, retail chain stores, hospitals, libraries or banks.

Read the full article via the Financial Mail.

William Mzimba on why Vodacom acquired IoT.nxt

Disrupt Podcast 2

TechCentral June 2020

In this episode of the podcast, TechCentral is joined by IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn and Vodacom Business CEO William Mzimba to talk about Vodacom’s acquisition of the company and the work it is doing for the telecommunications operator and its parent, Vodafone Group.

In the podcast, Mzimba unpacks what attracted Vodacom to IoT.nxt and highlights some of the projects the companies are now involved in together, including one to reduce power consumption at the operator’s thousands of network high sites.

Mzimba also talks about how Vodacom is changing strategically as a company and how that change, underpinned by digital transformation, will accelerate in the coming years. IoT.nxt will help it in that journey.

Steyn then expands on some of the specific challenges that IoT.nxt is helping Vodacom address and looks at how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected conversations around digital transformation.

Later in the podcast, IoT.nxt chief commercial officer Andre Strauss joins the conversation and helps explore the impact of IoT on business.

Don’t miss the discussion!

Watch the full podcast via TechCentral now.

How IoT and digital buildings will reshape the world post COVID-19

Over the last two decades, the world has seen the outbreak of highly infectious diseases like SARS, Zika virus, Ebola and now COVID-19. Pandemics are a rising threat and epidemics, almost a given. Studies say this is likely due to increased global travel and integration, urbanisation, changes in land use, and greater exploitation of the natural environment. Fortunately, amongst these volatile settings, technology continues to rise to the challenge.

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention and this has certainly been the case with 2019’s coronavirus outbreak. In response to widespread travel bans, public closures and social distancing restrictions, many are turning to digital tools to solve their current human proximity problems.

The further we move through the age of digital innovation, the clearer it becomes that artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) are at the helm. So how is IoT reshaping the future and what role can smart buildings play in securing the world post-COVID-19?

Connectivity in a time of social distancing

In the years since the world saw its first 21st-century epidemic, SARS, technology has become more ubiquitous (anywhere-anytime). This has enabled connectivity between a broader range of devices to a network. An IoT solution can connect everything from vehicles, appliances and medical devices to computers, mobile devices and more.

As such, with the sudden global shutdown placing the public and private sector into an ‘active-pause’ state, businesses have turned to IoT as the technology underpin to their rapidly pivoting operational strategies. With a simple digital customer-interface and interpretation of real-time data, IoT platforms offer the perfect opportunity for organisations to incorporate thermal cameras and other emerging technologies into their buildings to manage the health of their customers and staff. Yet, for companies like IoT.nxt, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Sustainable solutions, post COVID-19

Chief Commercial Officer at IoT.nxt, André Strauss, warns that demand for certain technologies will be relative and that organisations need to look to the future when considering digital optimisation. “My view is, thermal cameras and the demand around them will be super short-lived. The same as ventilators, the world is rushing to build and catalogue them and people will not buy them forever.”

“What will, however, be sustainable and a constant global requirement is components of occupancy management and environmental monitoring and management.”

In the short term, Strauss says companies going back to work globally will grapple with how to count, manage and report on attendance and occupancy. That’s where IoT.nxt’s new CoVision solution seeks to help.

The CoVision platform is a blend of hardware and software that can help with the monitoring and management of public spaces so that social distancing restrictions can be enforced. This technology also paves the way for businesses to make a more sustainable entry into digital buildings.

IoT and Digital Buildings

Smart buildings the key to long-term sustainability

Buildings account for the second-highest cost to companies behind employee salaries. One thing that organisations across sectors have in common are buildings which are used for an array of purposes. Monitoring building occupancy has become critical in shaping building-related decisions for increased cost efficiencies and occupant experience satisfaction.

Several challenges in the management of buildings include fewer resources and increased demand from building owners, aging and disparate systems, new ways of working, increasing demand for user-friendliness, space optimisation and many more.

IoT.nxt’s solution helps to overcome many of these problems and address the needs of a post-COVID-19 world. In particular, CoVision can be used to help organisations in the following ways:

Desk occupancy

Using sensors at each desk, CoVision can be used to monitor the number of employees at a certain workstation to aid in enforcing social distancing restrictions. Each wireless sensor communicates to a wireless sensor gateway that breaks out to the internet over WIFI or ethernet connection.

Real-time people tracking

CoVision monitors the real-time number and position of people in a building space using ceiling mounted sensors. Data is completely anonymous and identities are never used or stored. Sensors communicate to a gateway in the ceiling and use either an ethernet-based or 3G dongle with sim for internet break-out to the IoT.nxt platform.

Entrance counting

CoVision can count the number of people entering and leaving through building entrances using a sensor mounted at each entrance. Sensors use the local Wi-Fi network to communicate occupancy data to the IoT.nxt platform for monitoring and management.

Meeting room occupancy

CoVision can track the number of occupants entering and leaving a meeting room using a sensor at the entrance of each room. Sensors then communicate occupancy data to the IoT.nxt platform for real-time monitoring and management.

Ready to step into the future?

If we’ve learnt anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that business has to be agile. According to CEO and Co-Founder of IoT.nxt, Nico Steyn, “Moving forward, what is going to become more and more apparent is not necessarily our dependence on digital but the level of improvement that we can see coming through by harnessing these technologies.”

“Core to what we believe in and what we see working out there is this ability to be agile in terms of not just implementing systems, but also in your thinking.”

Technology such as IoT offers organisations a unique stepping stone to a more sustainable future in times of crisis. Our CoVision platform could help your business manage social distancing measures, minimise the risk of overcrowding, and restore customer confidence.

See the world differently, with the CoVision solution from IoT.nxt.

To find out more about CoVision, click here or get in touch with our team today via [email protected].

Nico Steyn on IoT.nxt’s growth plans, a year after the Vodacom acquisition

Disrupt Podcast 1

TechCentral June 2020

Nico Steyn, co-founder and CEO of IoT.nxt, joins TechCentral for a discussion on how the business has grown a year on from Vodacom Group’s blockbuster acquisition of a 51% stake in the business.

In the podcast, Steyn talks about how the company is working with Vodacom – and the broader Vodafone Group – to expand its offerings in South Africa and around the world.

IoT.nxt, which offers a “technology agnostic” solution that acts as a conduit between sensors and other Internet of things devices at the edge of the network and the application layer in companies’ IT departments, has grown rapidly since its founding five years ago.\

Initially funded by private equity group Talent10, Steyn explains how the Vodacom acquisition came about and what it has meant for IoT.nxt.

Also in the podcast, Steyn explains why Covid-19 is likely to prove beneficial for the company in the long term as the world looks to automate, and he talks about the work that IoT.nxt is doing to develop skills in the IoT space.

Don’t miss the discussion.

Watch the full podcast via TechCentral now.

Vodacom joins the world to celebrate World Environment Day

Vodacom Group June 2020

Today marks World Environment Day to celebrate biodiversity and the importance of nature to life. However, we commemorate this day during a global pandemic and therefore many people will be celebrating the day indoors or virtually, not fully enjoying the joys that nature brings to biodiversity.

When various countries around the world announced containment measures such as lockdowns, quarantines, and curfews to help contain the spread of the virus, this inadvertently led to restricted public movement except for essential workers. In celebrating this day, we need to step back and assess the positive impact of restricted movement on nature.

Firstly, restricted movement meant fewer vehicles on the road and significantly less air travel which translates to reduced pollution and car accidents; with fewer people in public places we saw refreshing videos of wild animals roaming the streets. In national parks and game farms, you can drive for days without seeing a wild cat such as a lion, yet we saw videos of a pride of lions snoozing in the middle of the road. Some marveled at seeing fish in rivers or lakes they thought did not have such species. In some countries reports were abuzz about visibility of blue skies without the regular polluted air. This clean environment is cause for celebration albeit for a short period of time, before we go back to our regular activities in the new normal. It also demonstrates that, with a certain level of discipline we can minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the full article via Vodacom.

Preparing organisations for digital transformation

Digital Transformation

By Francois Volschenk (IoT.nxt Chief Digital Innovator and Learnership Evangelist)

Organisations could be slow to react to digital transformation due to traditional methodologies, the nature of the organisation or individual resistance to change. Merifield (2015) suggested that digital transformation means something different to everyone, but digital leaders are 26 per cent more profitable than their industry competitors.

However, it’s important not to confuse digital with digitisation. Digitalisation involves the standardisation of business processes driven by potential operational excellence and reductions in cost. Additionally, for many organisations, digital transformation is only digitalisation or digital optimisation in disguise, where the new digital initiatives merely augment existing services (Denning, 2018).

The concept of digital transformation is an all-encompassing change involving people, processes, systems, operations, technology, culture and finance in an entirely new paradigm of organisational change. Peter Drucker once said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” that articulates the heart of digital transformation, which is core to IoT.nxt.

Traditional approaches by organisations to obtain competitive advantage included cost leadership, market-leading research and development or marketing (Porter, 1998; Teece, 2010). In contrast, Spil et al. (2016) suggested that the ability to capitalise on new digital technologies will become a more significant way to both maintain, improve and strategically change the competitive positioning of an organisation. The research by Spil et al. ( 2016) observed a lack of e-leadership or the inability of organisations to capitalise on the new business model and product innovation opportunities that were enabled by digital technologies and resources.

Established companies do not have to change their business model or become digital platforms by emulating other digital disruptors (Lamoureux, 2017). Schwab (2017) predicts the winners of digital will be those who can participate fully in innovation-driven ecosystems by providing new ideas, business models, products and services. Ross (2017) warns that digital transformation will be a long journey, consequently encouraging organisations to start soonest with the process.

The evolutionist, Martin Nowak remarked, co-operation is the only thing that could possibly rescue humankind (Hollis, 1992). Technology should be employed to drive humanity towards more sustainable development (Hollis, 1992). The future ought to be formed by putting individuals first and enabling them to make a difference. Humankind continually needs to be reminded that all modern technologies are the foremost tools made by people for people. The closer technology mimics the reality of human existence, the more beneficial the impact of digital transformation will be on humanity.

It’s your business, only better.

Just as in the real world, communication is key to unlocking the potential of digital. Creating interoperability across your value chain is an integral part of IoT.nxt’s solution and the key to delivering the deep insights you need.

IoT.nxt is a software development company that’s part of Vodafone subsidiary Vodacom. We offer dynamic Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to industries and businesses alike, worldwide. With IoT.nxt, you can keep an eye on the core parts that make up your ecosystem from the palm of your very hand, with no need for rip or replace.

Is your business ready for complete digitisation? Step into the future, with IoT.nxt

Contact our expert team today via [email protected]

About the author

Francois Volschenk is Professor of Management and Associate Dean of the Faculty at Monarch Business School Switzerland. Over the years, Volschenk’s research interests have focused on the areas of digital technologies, digital disruption, leadership and entrepreneurship. In the last 30 years, he has been involved with technology development companies that use digital innovation to transform business operations and industries. He completed his DBA at Monarch Business School, Switzerland.

Since January 2020, he has served as IoT.nxt’s Chief Digital Innovator.

IoT.nxt software allows companies to manage social distancing and keep tabs on numbers

Business Day June 2020

Managing social distancing requirements will be one of the challenges facing many businesses in both the short and medium term around the world as lockdown restrictions are eased.

Locally, most retailers have implemented a manual process to manage the number of shoppers in-store at any one time, with mixed success.

One company looking to address this challenge is internet of things (IoT) solutions provider IoT.nxt, which has developed software that makes it possible for companies — including retailers, transport hubs, business and office parks, public facilities and industrial facilities — to efficiently and unobtrusively manage social distancing and control the number of people at a facility in real time.

IoT.nxt’s product, known as Covision, contains people-counting, queue-management and vehicle-counting solutions that allow a retailer or business manager to know in real time exactly how many people are in-store at any point in time.

Covision was developed locally on the back of the company’s IoT technology platform that uses artificial intelligence to monitor the movement of people, vehicles and assets. IoT solutions, says IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn, are all about getting data in real time and then making sense of that data.

Read the full article via Business Day now.