Hiring spree at Vodacom-backed IoT.nxt

Video Conference

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?

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.

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.

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.

IoT.nxt develops solution to manage social distancing for retailers, offices

CoVision

ITWeb May 2020

Many South African businesses are getting ready to restart operations from next week as a new level of lockdown regulations come into effect. But it will not be business as usual. Several requirements to adhere to guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 will be in place.

A key requirement for many businesses – from retail to office parks and other places of business – is the management of people in facilities and maintaining distancing requirements. Leading Internet of things (IOT) solutions provider, IoT.nxt, has developed a product, known as Covision, that will make it possible for companies to use technology, as opposed to manual processes, to manage social distancing and control the number of people at a facility in real-time.

“Since the introduction of social distancing requirements for varied facilities all around the world, many companies have experienced challenges with the management of this. In South Africa, a leading retailer in Cape Town was ordered to close in April as it failed to comply with lockdown regulations – notably distancing requirements – implemented by the SA government since late March this year. Most retailers have implemented a manual process, with mixed success. With Covision a retailer will know exactly what the situation is inside a store, in real-time, and manage it efficiently,” Nico Steyn, IoT.nxt CEO, explains.

Read the full article via ITWeb.

The difficult assessment of IIoT platforms

IIoT

By Gaétan Raoul, LeMagIT March 2020

This comparative analysis of the Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave devoted to IIoT platforms, attempts to shed light on the selection criteria of Gartner and Forrester.

In its Forrester Wave dedicated to IIoT software platforms, the research firm considers that C3.AI, Microsoft, PTC and Siemens are the leaders in this market. IBM and Software AG lead the “Strong Performers” category. However, Microsoft, AWS (a “strong performer”) and ABB (a “contender”) benefit from the strongest presence on the market ahead of IBM.

On the contrary, in June 2019, Gartner saw neither challengers nor leaders, but visionaries and niche players. In order of importance, Software AG, PTC and Hitachi are the three visionaries of this magic square. Accenture leads the challengers, on the border between the niche player and the visionary.

GE Digital, Oracle, IBM, Hitachi, PTC and Software AG appear as the actors common to both tables. However, they do not occupy the same place at all. Forrester mentions Bosch, Siemens, and Samsung SDS in the ranking. Gartner chooses Eurotech, Atos, RootCLOUD, Altizon, Exosite, QiO, Davra, Flutura, and Litmus Automation’s IIoT niche platforms. In his special mentions, he includes solutions from ABB, Alibaba, AWS, Huawei, IoT.nxt, Microsoft, Schneider Electric and Siemens. Gartner excludes SAP Leonardo from its Magic Quadrant.

Forrester perceives an established market, Gartner highlights lack of competitiveness

Thus, Gartner does not identify leaders and considers that the market for IIoT platforms, although there is no shortage of participants, is not yet sufficiently competitive. Most of the publishers mentioned are considered to be niche players. If products evolve quickly, manufacturers are barely starting their connected adventure.

To explain this difference in treatment, it must be understood that Gartner and Forrester are not based exactly on the same criteria. The two firms analyze the feedback from their clients, two slightly different audiences. For its part, Gartner only considers standalone software solutions, independent of components offered by several suppliers, equipment manufacturers or publishers. For example, Siemens was excluded from Magic Quadrant 2019 because it builds on the device management layer of Software AG.

Gartner believes that a publisher of an IIoT platform must offer in a single offer analytical capability, device management, integration tools, IoT data management, means of creating and orchestrating applications, as well as a security layer. Everything must be available on site and in the cloud.

Forrester does not specify in its methodology the choice of choosing all-in-one solutions, although it mentions the same technical evaluation criteria. In addition, the firm performs its analysis in the fourth quarter of 2019 and publishes it in November 2019 while Gartner offers it in June of the same year.

Significant differences between the “leaders”

In addition to these differences, it is interesting to consider the remarks and comments justifying the choices of analysts concerning the actors at the top of the two rankings. In general, Forrester tries above all to present the advantages and functionalities of each of the products. Gartner takes a more critical look with his famous positive and negative points.

Let us first take the example of PTC, an editor highlighted by the two firms. Forrester discusses all the capabilities offered by the PLM expert in its Thingworx platform. This solution, available on the cloud or on site, benefits from a combination of IoT and augmented reality capabilities while being compatible with a large number of industrial equipment thanks to Kepware. PTC relies on an ecosystem of established partners. The strategic alliance with Rockwell Automation is a good example.

In essence, Gartner takes up the same arguments and even considers Thingworx to be “one of the best-known platforms” on the market. It would support nearly 40,000 developers. The firm points out the limits of the analytical tools integrated into Thingworx, reminds that the digital twin functionality is not fully compatible with industrial machines and that its prices are “20 to 50% higher” than those of its competitors.
Software AG, the German publisher of the Cumulocity IoT platform, would offer all of the functionality needed to conduct IIoT projects, according to Gartner. The suite includes Cumulocity IoT Core and Cumulocity IoT Edge. Forrester also highlights the capabilities of edge computing, data management and real-time analytics, and machine learning.

The two analyst firms note the creation of a division dedicated to IoT activities, the partnership with Siemens around the Mindsphere suite and the creation of the ADAMOS joint venture. Gartner mentions that Software AG generates 50% of the revenues from Cumulocity IoT through 55 reseller partners. The publisher has also set up a center of excellence.

The solution has the advantage of supporting 150 pre-integrated devices, 350 protocols. Finally, it benefits from regular updates (every two weeks with a major addition every month). However, Gartner pointed out that Cumulocity IoT did not fully support the OPC UA protocol (which has been the case since December 2019) and Edge functionality, while code review techniques needed to be improved.

Siemens has named its Mindsphere platform. Designed on an open source core (Cloud Foundry), it allows interconnection with third-party applications and is itself composed of elements that do not belong to Siemens (Tableau, Software AG and hosting on AWS, Azure or Alibaba Cloud). This is what Gartner accuses him of, while Forrester sees this actor as a leader. German manufacturer expands equipment management beyond its own devices with Software AG solution.

If C3.AI is not among the candidates selected by Gartner, it is undoubtedly because this editor offers above all an analytical and data science platform. Forrester recalls that this PaaS compatible with Microsoft Azure, was formerly called C3 IoT.

Although the company maintains partnerships with equipment manufacturers, it does not offer a device management system per se but connects with systems allowing it to aggregate the data necessary for analyzes. It is therefore not an IIoT platform in the sense understood by Gartner.

Another element can play in the evaluation of different solutions. Publishers simply have to play the game of analysis. Hitachi declined to respond to Forrester’s request. The latter mentions it in his Forrester Wave based on his knowledge of the Lumada platform and information transmitted by his customers.

According to Gartner, Hitachi has endowed bricks essential to the conduct of IIoT projects. Lumada can integrate with offers from OEM suppliers in different industrial sectors. Customers surveyed see integration features as a definite advantage. Hitachi’s alliances, technological and industrial partnerships would place it in a good position to meet the needs of its customers. However, Lumada’s device management and digital twinning capabilities fell short of customer expectations, according to Gartner.

Cloud providers: IoT bricks versus end-to-end solutions

Regarding cloud providers AWS, Oracle Microsoft, and IBM, only Oracle and Big blue fully meet Gartner’s criteria. Watson IoT Platform has key functionalities, from equipment management to integration and security capabilities to access to analytics and machine learning tools (optional, but that both firms do not specify it).

Customers can rely on the Node Red programming language to build IIoT applications, however Watson IoT Platform support would not be as good as other IBM services, say Gartner analysts.

Oracle IoT Cloud has the merit of offering practically the same functionalities this time in SaaS mode on its own cloud or on private instances. The tool would integrate with third-party applications such as ERP, SCM and CX (Customer Experience) tools. In addition, the supplier offers Oracle IoT Cloud in a pack with its middleware and enterprise applications (MES) offers. However, this application-centric platform is subject to proprietary confinement generally practiced by this operator.

These players are above all partners of choice for all publishers specializing in the integration and analysis of data from connected equipment. Most market players offer their platform from the IaaS layers of these cloud giants.

If AWS could not previously offer a deployment of its solution on site, the availability of Outposts should change Gartner’s opinion regarding his exclusion from the Magic Quadrant. However, both AWS and Microsoft do not offer a platform as such, but managed services that must be added up to deploy use cases. The two players do not have direct connectors to industrial standards and integrate their solution at a gateway capable of communicating data via an MQTT protocol.

They rely on Edge functionality and are able to couple it with embedded machine learning functionality. Microsoft has a large footprint in the augmented reality market complementary to IoT, and partnerships with industry specialists like ABB and Schneider Electric. AWS claims to be the world’s largest IIoT project, Volkswagen’s, in partnership with Siemens.

A complex assessment

The reading grids offered by the two analysis firms are relevant for obtaining an initial opinion on the offers available on the market. They advise you to monitor their publications to fully assess these tools. In an industrial context, the adoption of a PaaS IIoT requires an evaluation of the standards, machines, and operational systems in place.

Consulting the documentation of each publisher is the best action to take to understand if a tool can meet your needs.

Depending on the scale of the project and the existing infrastructure, certain players will be better able to meet your constraints. However, fully connecting a factory is a particularly expensive and complex initiative. Most of these players will recommend that you start with a production line, then deploy step by step. It is also possible to rely on observability bricks to provide an analytical layer to existing systems.

A software suite, as powerful as it is, should not make us forget that the IoT brings together a good number of IT problems (network, storage, compatibility, data ingestion, processing and restitution, etc.) in a single point of attention.

This feature was published in French on www.lemagit.fr.

SA’s IoT.nxt Develops Social Distancing Solution for Retailers, Offices

TalkIoT April 2020

A South African innovator in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, IoT.nxt, has developed a solution that will make it possible for companies and retailers to manage social distancing and control the number of people at a facility in real-time.

The product, known as Covision, is currently being tested at various supermarkets in Pretoria.

Furthermore, IoT.nxt’s office in The Netherlands is in discussion with a retailer in The Hague for a test site in that city.

Read more here: https://bit.ly/2YKY987

IoT transforms management of intelligent cell sites

Intelligent Cell Sites

ITWeb Africa April 2020

The introduction of IOT technology at 3 800 cell sites (also known as base transceiver stations) delivered energy savings similar to 1 130 vehicles not being driven for a full year, after only two months since implementation.

This energy saving is but one benefit IOT delivers to create an intelligent cell site. It also transforms the asset management and predictive maintenance processes and several other aspects of site management.

The energy savings that IOT implementation can deliver will be a significant benefit in years ahead as companies continue to watch costs closely and develop and drive new strategies to limit or reduce environmental impact.

Market Watch estimates there are currently 12 million base stations worldwide and that 6.5 million 5G base stations are likely to be added by 2025.

Read more here: https://bit.ly/2L9lOqT

Smart buildings beyond HVAC, access control and lighting

IoT.nxt-Smart-Building

ITWeb Africa April 2020

New applications and the introduction of new technology in smart buildings is expected to grow at 32% per annum to create more than $2 billion in revenue by 2026.

This is the estimate by global research company ABI Research in a report released earlier this year.

“There is growing interest from building managers, property developers and occupants of buildings to drive efficiencies and deliver a new kind of work environment. IOT technology is ideally suited to provide that,” says Terje Moen, Co-Founder and Business Development: Operations at IoT.nxt.

Moen notes the scope beyond management of HVAC, access control and lighting is big. Building owners and managers can now improve the operation of a building by introducing:

  • Workspace analytics and optimisation;
  • Meeting rooms and hot desk utilisation and optimisation;
  • Environmental monitoring;
  • Energy management;
  • Asset management; and
  • Building management.

In South Africa, IoT.nxt developed a smart building solution for Vodacom at its campus in Midrand and completed a large-scale smart building for Vodafone in Paddington, London, last month.

Read more here: https://bit.ly/3dp0GJq

IoT technology to revolutionize the future for smart cell sites

My Tech Mag March 2020

IoT technology will transform the business of smart cell sites, be it the operation, maintenance or management thereof. IoT.nxt, innovators in IoT technology and strategy, has devised a solution that will make all the difference. This is done by overlaying a hardware agnostic data collection layer that will talk to any hardware, be it cutting edge or 20 years old. “Our solution does not require ‘rip and replace’, as it overlays our data collection layer on top of the base station operator’s equipment, thus preserving the existing infrastructure,” says André Strauss, IoT.nxt Chief Commercial Officer: Sales.

IoT.nxt creates one single view of all segregated systems which makes it possible for the mart cell site operator to view all systems, be they central or distributed, from a single viewing platform.

Once the four-level infrastructure is in place, IoT.nxt’s AI and analytic tools are used to determine patterns in all measured sensors such as temperature fluctuations, battery recharge time, or equipment failures.

“We can detect smart cell sites (base stations) that are outside the normal behaviour and need to be checked out before they fail. By tracking the internal temperature and comparing it to the air conditioner behaviour and run time we can detect unnecessary energy usage,” Strauss says.

Read more here: https://bit.ly/39h5i1G

Expect big things from Vodacom in 2020

By Jamie McKane 27 December 2019

Vodacom has had a great 2019, cementing its position as the biggest mobile operator in the country.

Vodacom shows no signs of slowing down next year, as it plans to launch a number of new initiatives and expand its existing offerings.

Speaking to MyBroadband about its vision for 2020, Vodacom said that South Africans should watch out for big new developments.

“There are a lot of exciting developments planned for the new year, which will continue to improve customer experience on the Vodacom network – stay tuned!” Vodacom said.

These include developments of financial services and Vodacom’s OTT services.

Vodacom said that it expects big things to come from its financial services division, especially on the back of its partnership with Mastercard earlier this year.

“There is certainly a lot more to come from Vodacom Financial Services,” Vodacom told MyBroadband.

“Earlier this year, together with Mastercard, we launched the VodaPay Masterpass – which enables Vodacom customers to load bank card details into a digital wallet that can be downloaded as an app on a smartphone.”

The network noted that smartphones were being used for financial transactions more frequently in South Africa, and it would evolve its platform to accommodate this.

“As digital wallets gain popularity, we realise the need to offer our customers solutions that will enable them to adapt to the future of commerce,” Vodacom said.

“With so many of our customers now using smartphones, it makes sense to make it easier for them to pay for airtime and data, and conduct a wide range of payments at their favourite merchants, all from a single app – and we will be adding even more features to the platform in the new year.”

Vodacom did not expand too much on its plans for its video, music, and gaming OTT platforms, but it did say it expects massive growth from the services.

“Our video, gaming, and music offerings will evolve and grow exponentially while we are also expecting exciting things from our IoT.nxt acquisition in the year ahead,” Vodacom said.

Experienced IoT strategist joins IoT.nxt

MEDIA STATEMENT

Centurion, South Africa. 09 December 2019 As its global expansion accelerates, innovators in IoT technology IoT.nxt appointed experienced strategist Shane Cooper as Chief of Operations this month. Cooper joins IoT.nxt from the Vodacom Group, where he served as Managing Executive of Strategy.

“Shane has a deep understanding of the possibilities of IoT technology and strategy for enterprise and his insight and vision will help us drive our entry into new markets and territories. He has had a close relationship with the IoT.nxt team and was central to discussions that led to Vodacom’s acquisition of a majority stake in IoT.nxt earlier this year,” says IoT.nxt CEO, Nico Steyn.

According to Cooper, who first encountered IoT.nxt shortly after the company was founded in early 2016, it was IoT.nxt’s focus on innovative edge technology that attracted his attention. “This set the company apart from what many others in the fast-growing IoT industry were developing at the time. It was revolutionary, as everyone else was talking about the cloud,” Cooper says.

“IoT.nxt has great potential to expand its operations and become a leading global IoT company, proven by Vodacom and Vodafone’s interest. Beyond that, IoT.nxt has also registered the attention of the likes of consulting giant Gartner and leading tech companies like Dell, Microsoft, Fujitsu and ADTRAN.

“This is further validation that we are heading in the right direction, but also brings with it the pressure to constantly remain ahead of technological developments. And thanks to the Vodacom shareholding we now have the funding and support to accelerate the building of a global company,” notes Cooper.

As Chief of Operations, Cooper will drive the company’s global expansion by being alert of and mitigating growing pains that start-ups typically encounter in the journey to become truly international organisations.

At Vodacom Cooper was responsible for strategy for the Group, which included all operations across the Group in all territories in which it operates. His key focus was to devise strategy that positions the company for the future, as the core telecommunications offerings matured, and new opportunities and expanded services were prioritised. The digitalisation of business and guiding enterprises on that journey was a critical focus.

Cooper holds a MBA from Heriot-Watt University, a B.Com Accounting from the University of Port Elizabeth and completed a B.Com Honours (Accounting) degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

ISSUED BY: IoT.nxt

For further information please contact:

Daleen van Wyk
Media Liaison
Tel: +27 83 302 0827
Email: [email protected]

Further accolade for IoT.nxt at TT100 2019

29 November 2019

Innovators in Internet of things (IOT) technology IoT.nxt won the Management of Technology Award for Medium Enterprises at the annual Da Vinci TT100 awards presentation this month, adding to its impressive list of accolades achieved since the company’s establishment late in 2015.

In addition to its win in that category, IoT.nxt was a finalist in all categories of the TT100 award programme, launched in 1991.

For the Management of Technology, the judging panel considers the ‘tools’ and metrics organisations use to gain competitive advantage. Simplistically, it is “a way of doing things better” and may involve the use of anything from computers and hi-tech, to project management processes, to simple handheld tools. In this context, we refer to the small “t” in technology where organisations manage their technology to best position their products or services to maximise their market share.

“IoT.nxt’s trademarked edge device, the Raptor, is a game-changer for IOT solutions. We believe that this, combined with our technology-agnostic approach and the ability to retrofit any legacy equipment at any company in any industry secured the award for us. We are very proud of this achievement and it confirms our belief that our innovate approach is world-leading,” says André Jacobs, Director of Product Engineering at IoT.nxt.

“When we entered in 2016, IoT.nxt was still in start-up phase, yet we received recognition as a finalist in the category for innovation for small enterprises. Now, three years later, our company is well established, we have international offices in Europe and the USA and a proven solution. It is testament to the dedication of our team and the innovation culture that remains strong,” Jacobs says.

Earlier awards for IoT.nxt:

Microsoft 2019 Partner of the Year, Independent Software Vendor (ISV)
2019 Gartner Notable Vendor for IIoT
Enterprise solution category winner and overall winner of the MTN Business IoT Award 2017
Gartner Aspiring Innovator 2016

African CIOs look to IoT for critical infrastructure applications

By Heath Muchena  14 November 2019

While the internet of things is disrupting industries and creating new ways of doing business globally, technology executives at this week’s Africacom conference in Cape Town are highlighting how in Africa, IOT is focused on critical, often life-saving, utility, agricultural, transportation and infrastructure applications.

IoT is essentially a network of connected devices that collect information and provide a stream of data that can be analyzed and acted on. Industrial connected systems have been around for years, as sensors on factory floors connected manufacturing equipment. The big difference now is that connected devices are no longer the province of industrial niches.

South African-based mobile group Vodacom, for example, is investing heavily in IoT and has acquired a majority stake in IoT.nxt to develop applications for the automotive, mining, agriculture, finance and consumer markets.

IoT addresses regional challenges

A notable difference in the way IoT projects will be rolled out in Africa compared to Western countries is the nature of the use cases, often specifically developed to address regional challenges. Examples include solar lighting management for communities living off the grid or real-time weather applications that assist crop farmers.

Creating solutions that are suitable to Africa’s environment and infrastructure issues – such as a its fragile power grid, is crucial. For example, GSMA research shows that as mobile IoT technology becomes more widely available, there is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to leverage new cellular Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network technology. These networks are designed for lower cost IoT applications that use low data rates, need long battery life and are typically in remote locations. This is ideal for applications like smart-metering and decentralised utility service models. Nonetheless, there are still currently few mobile IoT networks in the African emerging markets.

Read more: CIO

Vodacom Group H1 revenue rises 3.9%

Monday 11 November 2019 | 09:37 CET | News

Vodacom Group revenue increased by 3.9 percent to ZAR 44.39 billion in the first six months to 30 September from ZAR 42.71 billion a year earlier, supported by group service revenue growth of 4.2 percent. The group added 2.7 million customers in South Africa and international operations and 2.7 million at Safaricom during the period, giving it a combined 115 million customers. Net profit rose by 20.8 percent to ZAR 8.19 billion from ZAR 6.79 billion in 2018.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS) increased 18.9 percent to ZAR 4.60 from ZAR 3.87 in 2018 due to the one-off BEE costs of ZAR 1.5 billion included in the prior period. Earnings per share were up 19.4 percent.

The interim dividend per share declined to ZAR 3.80 from ZAR 3.95 but there was also a special dividend of ZAR 0.60.

EBITDA increased by 4.2 percent to ZAR 18.17 billion from ZAR 16.53 billion in 2018 and capital expenditure rose by 19 percent to ZAR 6.35 billion from ZAR 5.33 billion in 2018.

International operations continue to perform well, delivering service revenue growth of 15.5 percent with foreign currency translations boosting reported group growth.

Vodacom adopted IFRS 16 on 01 April with the cumulative retrospective impact reflected as an adjustment to equity on the date of adoption. Looking ahead, Vodacom expects the benefits of acquiring a strategic stake in IoT.nxt will become increasingly evident in both consumer and enterprise businesses.

Vodacom’s profits rise as it grows customer base in South Africa

Staff Writer 11 November 2019

Vodacom on Monday (11 November), reported an 18.9% increase in headline earnings per share for the six months ended September 2019 – to 460 cents per share – amid strong customer growth.

“We added 2.7 million customers in South Africa and our international operations, and 2.7 million in Safaricom during the period, to serve a combined 115 million customers across the group,” said Vodacom Group chief executive officer, Shameel Joosub.

Group revenue was up 3.9% to R44.4 billion, supported by group service revenue growth of 4.2%, to R36 billion.

“South Africa service revenue grew 0.3%, supported by the turnaround to growth in the second quarter, as the reduction in out-of-bundle revenue was offset by improved data elasticity and the completion of the full onboarding of our new roaming partner,” Joosub said.

International operations continue to perform well, delivering service revenue growth of 15.5% with foreign currency translations boosting reported group growth, the operator said.

Earnings per share were up 19.4% and headline earnings per share were up 18.9%, due to the one-off BEE costs of R1.5 billion (including transaction costs) included in the prior period.

Vodacom declared an interim dividend of 380 cents per share and a special dividend of 60 cents per share.

Other key highlights include improved second-quarter performance in South Africa and the sustained growth of our international businesses, said Joosub.

“In South Africa, an increase in data usage, following sustained efforts to reduce data prices and the onboarding of our new roaming partner in the second quarter, more than offset the service revenue decline reported in the first three months of the financial year.

“On a like-for-like basis, this resulted in service revenue growth of 1.5% during the half-year, despite ongoing economic pressures and the implementation of the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations,” the chief executive said.

Ongoing initiatives to enhance customer experience through pricing transformation, modernisation of IT systems and sustained investment in network infrastructure, continue to pay dividends, he said.

“This is evidenced by the additional 691,000 customers who joined Vodacom in the period,” Joosub said, taking South Africa’s customer base to 43.9 million.”

Measures to introduce ‘one more service’ to customers, as part of its strategy to build diverse revenue streams, are quickly gathering momentum.

Revenue from its financial services business jumped by 37.1% to almost R1 billion, as airtime advance, insurance and our recently launched VodaPay service all gained in popularity, Vodacom said.

“More than one million people have made video-on-demand purchases, while our music, sports, games and other video services – all in their infancy phase – are contributing to solid growth in our digital services business,” Joosub said.

Vodacom said that its international portfolio remains a star performer, growing service revenue by 15.5% in a period characterised by macro and political stability and high demand for data and M-Pesa services in each operation. ”

We connected an additional 2 million customers, boosting the total to 36.6 million customers outside South Africa and Safaricom,” Joosub said.

Looking ahead, Joosub said: “We expect the benefits from our acquisition of a strategic stake in IoT.nxt[2] will become increasingly evident in both our Consumer and Enterprise businesses. The same can be said for the other partnerships we have put in place in recent times, including our agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS), to ensure we bring best-in-class services and products to customers right across the group”.

Read more: BusinessTech

Vodacom Could Spend R1bn to Buy IoT.nxt

digital revolution

Gugu Lourie November 11, 2019

Vodacom has disclosed on Monday that it could spend as much as R1 billion to acquire Internet of Things (IoT) innovator IoT.nxt.

In May, Vodacom announced plans to buy 51% stake in IoT.nxt for an undisclosed amount to enhance its current IoT offering.

The Vodafone-owned mobile phone firm disclosed on Monday that it bought the 51% stake in IoT.nxt for R1 billion, of which R469 million was settled in cash, with the remainder being contingent on the future performance of the business.

IoT.nxt creates data-connectivity between new data sources and legacy systems which allows for real-time data availability across a wide business segment.

The effective date of the acquisition was 23 August 2019.

“The acquisition of IoT.nxt will help in accelerating the Group’s internet of things (IoT) strategy, and take advantage of the significant opportunities within the IoT space,” Vodacom said.

Looking ahead, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub, said the company expect the benefits from its acquisition of a strategic stake in IoT.nxt will become increasingly evident in both Consumer and Enterprise businesses.

Vodacom also reported that its IoT connections rose 14.2% to 4.6 million for the six months ended 30 September 2019.

IoT technology is transforming the world of business, retail, heavy industry, and our personal lives.

Research from Gartner has estimated that there will be over 6.4 billion connected things in use in 2016, increasing to around 20.8 billion by 2020. Business will need to adapt their practices on a mass scale to accommodate the deluge of connected solutions.

IoT.nxt is South Africa’s fast-growing innovator in IoT technology.

The IoT firm, which was founded by Nico Steyn and partners Bertus Jacobs and Terje Moen in Centurion at the end of 2015, opened its first fully-fledged office in Europe in The Hague, the Netherlands in 2017.

IoT.nxt has developed an edge to cloud IoT platform that enables rapid IoT implementation as the main underpin for enterprise digital transformation. IoT.nxt’s unique Raptor edge gateway technology and gateway management software integrated into its end to end Web-Commander software stack clearly differentiates it from its competitors.

The platform allows for a top down or bottom up digital transformation approach and is an enabling technology for all of the large IoT platform and big data players, as is evidenced through the company’s many commercial applications across many industry verticals where customers were using MS, SAP, IBM or GE, to name a few.

Read more: TalkIoT