Any industry. Any system. Any process.

Tech Trends To Watch This Year

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution well under way, our team is always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in the tech landscape. 2019 promises to be a year of prominent change, particularly in how we connect, communicate and share data.

Edge Computing.

Edge computing technology is growing in power and capability, so in 2019 we can suspect to see real-time data transfer become more efficient and streamlined, saving businesses time and generating quality data in real-time.

Security will remain a key focus.

Both Michiel Du Toit, Chief of Innovation, and Bertus Jacobs, CTO here at IoT.nxt believe that in 2019 security will take centre stage, making it a race to develop even more secure solutions for IoT and data sharing applications.

Machine learning protecting devices.

In 2019, the race for security will heat up, and machine learning will lead the fight to protect vulnerable devices against attack.

Blockchain: Beyond Cryptocurrency

This year, blockchain is due for a makeover. Aside from underpinning cryptocurrencies, blockchain can help industries improve supply chain transparency, ownership tracking and of course, security in data transfer, and customer trust.

Quantum Computing: Magic of physics or necessary technology?

The industry as a whole should keep their eye on rising technology trends, such as quantum computing that would eventually be able to crack even banking-grade SSL keys with ease.

Keep an eye on programming languages

Tracking prominent program languages is essential to help keep track of how to process data effectively.

Managing complex devices

André Jacobs, Director of Product Development, predicts as more and more devices and sensors are connected, the challenge will be to simplify system management across the diversity of sensors and devices.

Cost-Effective IoT Solutions for All

Du Toit predicts that the cloud bubble is beginning to burst, and the overpriced infrastructure costs we currently see in cloud infrastructure will drop as competition increases in the global market.

Protecting valuable workplaces

Sensors should also play a role in detecting dangerous chemicals and conditions in the workplace, improving overall workplace health and safety. The applications for environmental sensors are endless, particularly when it comes to protecting health technicians.

Monitoring air quality to stimulate effective action

With the aid of specialised sensors, we can record a change in air quality in real-time, particularly when it concerns asthma suffers or people with pre-existing breathing issues.

“The value of information does not survive the moment in which it was new. It lives only at that moment…”- Walter Benjamin.

It seems radical, but the turn of the century German Philosopher, Walter Benjamin, had a point about data sharing in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

2018 was a year to connect, share, optimise and most importantly, collect data, and IoT companies certainly facilitated the charge, connecting billions of devices, allowing data to be shared simultaneously. In its infancy, IoT may have been seen to be a solution reserved for tech-related companies. However, it has quickly become one of the building blocks of the modern business, connecting an estimated 23 billion devices, and paving the way for the future of any effectively-run enterprise ecosystem.

We need to leave the last industrial revolution in the dust

2019 is the year to embrace the sharing economy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. According to social and economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin:

“If your businesses are still plugged into a 2nd Industrial Revolution infrastructure you can’t get above the ceiling of 20% aggregate efficiency anywhere in the world.”

In 2019, look forward to increased mentions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, incorporating digitised communication and a new connected communication community of energy and transportation. IoT is about distribution and collaboration, not centralisation. What’s more, it’s about equal access, real-time data and then, evidently, real-world solutions.

Edge Computing

For businesses and industries without an effective (or variable) connection to a central cloud, edge computing is the key to real-time data analysis in 2019. Of course, Edge computing and IoT walk hand in hand and they are a perfect match. With both technologies growing in power and capability we can suspect to see real-time data transfer become more efficient and streamlined, saving businesses time and generating quality data in real-time.

In the months to come, edge computing has the capacity to profoundly reduce the need for sole-cloud dependencies, providing greater flexibility for small to medium businesses.

Edge computing is also making headway in telecommunications in 2019. With 5G cellular networks on the rise and destined to become the next stage in data storage, the need for more power, faster speed and new applications are greater than ever. With edge computing opening a gateway to efficient data processing, the harmonious partnership between IoT and edge is vital for any business wanting to effectivity process data in real-time.

IoT.nxt is already at the forefront of edge computing optimisation, and 5G will set up a new era for IoT to thrive. Industrial businesses have lots of data coming from all angles, transferring from devices straight to the cloud. There’s where IoT.nxt edge software comes in. At the edge, we capture anomalies before they head to the cloud, and send them directly to the relevant parties, cutting down on steps and connecting you to the data you need.

Security will remain a key focus

Michiel Du Toit, Chief of Innovation here at IoT.nxt believes in 2019 security will take centre stage, making it a race to develop even more secure solutions for IoT and data sharing applications. We’ll see top-notch security tech on IoT devices that could treat the vulnerability issues facing these devices.

Machine Learning Protecting Devices

Everyone agrees that security is an ever-pressing issue, and a cure-all solution seems light years away. There will always be vulnerabilities, but it’s all about minimising those vulnerabilities and hiring the strongest guard to keep watch.

In 2019, the race for security will heat up, and machine learning will lead the fight to protect vulnerable devices against attack.

With AI/machine learning on our side, we can expect to see:

  • Improved response time on attacks
  • Cost-effective solutions
  • Increased edge computing integration

IoT devices are certainly vulnerable and with more connectivity, that vulnerability spreads. As part of the solution, companies could embrace edge computing as a way to combat attacks and increase privacy.

Blockchain: Beyond Cryptocurrency

Blockchain is another contender for security protection in 2019. The past year blockchain has certainly been stuck in a poor PR cycle, with the crash of cryptocurrencies that the technology underpins. However, blockchain has other uses aside from cryptocurrency. The technology can help industries improve supply chain transparency, ownership tracking and of course, security in data transfer, and customer trust.

IoT needs to be ready to face security challenges that will evidently come with record-breaking device connectivity. It’s certainly a tech trend to watch closely in 2019.

According to Bertus Jacobs, CTO of IoT.nxt, more emphasis should be placed on the best practices to ensure tight security including but not limited to

  • Use open standards and best practices in both encryption and authentication;
  • Use and enforce strong passwords with best practices. “Last year’s” passwords will become largely outdated and weak quickly. Computing power gets exponentially better, especially when employing staggeringly high cloud-computing power to break weak passwords with brute force in seconds;
  • Avoid same or default passwords across different platforms, devices and systems.

One way that is always suggested and obvious – but is not implemented by a large population of development houses – is to protect sensitive client IP by storing passwords as non-reversible techniques, so that even developers can’t access client data.

When API integration between systems is developed, security should be at the forefront of every business. Open standard security tokens and other security features should be employed – not as an afterthought, but as an integral part of the project.

Quantum Computing: Magic of physics or necessary technology?

The industry as a whole should keep their eye on rising technology trends, such as quantum computing that would eventually be able to crack even banking-grade SSL keys with ease. Algorithms already exist to do this, but the hardware is still lacking. Although quantum hardware technology is incredibly hard to manufacture – a lot of R&D is dedicated to this by tech giants such as Google and IBM. One recent breakthrough was the unveiling of IBM’s latest quantum computer that can be accessed as a cloud service by third-party users. This latest development could translate to further research and discovery in more effective security in the foreseeable future.

On the embedded electronics side, IoT.nxt is busy developing a major advancement for Edge to Cloud security involving chipsets with baked-in security – which could be used by third parties. Although we can’t reveal too much information on this yet – we believe this will bring significantly more sophisticated security advances to the IoT market in general, offering more bulletproof firmware upgrade and malicious code execution.

On the embedded electronics side, IoT.nxt is busy developing a major advancement for Edge to Cloud security involving chipsets with baked-in security – which could be used by third parties. Although we can’t reveal too much information on this yet – we believe this will bring significantly more sophisticated security advances to the IoT market in general, offering more bulletproof firmware upgrade and malicious code execution.

It’s for issues like this that we’ve seen an increase in the ‘bounties’ offered by companies like Zerodium for the identification of high-risk vulnerabilities on operating systems, Whatsapp and much more. With payouts reaching well into the millions, we see more companies investing in triple-layer protection, much like camera manufacturer Axis have, by combining security and vulnerability management with learning and collaboration to ensure that their platform is continuously evolving.

Keep an eye on programming languages

As the year progresses, we think it’s important to keep a check on the most prominent program languages. Tracking prominent program languages is essential to help keep track of how to process data effectively.

Last year, we saw Python retained its’ influence as a dominant programming language, due in part to its versatility. Python is also being increasingly employed in web development, through prominent frameworks like Flask and Django. The language is at the forefront of the data science and AI industry with well-established libraries like NumPy and Pandas.

Following closely behind Python is Go, and JavaScript – with the addition of Typescript technology. Program languages we think you should keep your eye on in 2019 are Javascript and Python due, in part, to the ongoing growth and interest in serverless architecture, with most frameworks heading towards this relatively new type of architecture.

Rouan van der Ende, Software Developer at IoT.nxt says we aim to support most modern programming languages and protocols to make sure our software stack is diversified. We do, however, build infrastructure and edge devices on .Net Core and C# which is now available on Linux and Microsoft platforms. The bottom line is that language aside, we can plug into any system, either by industry standard integration or by allowing third-party plugins to be imported into our Edge technology (Raptor). Such plugins could be developed in any programming language as long as it can implement our generic Edge plugin interfaces.

Managing complex devices

André Jacobs, Director of Product Development, predicts as more and more devices and sensors are connected, the challenge will be to simplify system management across the diversity of sensors and devices.

IoT.nxt works across several industries to help implement complex devices effectively and creates the opportunity for data-driven results in their business.

Making sense of data

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. We are collecting and sharing more data than ever before. Globally, devices are sending more and more data to servers. The global business world is lit up with data exchange and we’re collecting that data at a record rate.

To make sense of data, businesses need to focus efforts on driving better and smarter results to convert the collected data into a cost-effective management system. Currently, 64% of business across all industries have discovered that big data breaks down traditional boundaries and allows non-traditional providers and products to enhance their industry. Jacobs believes that helping businesses understand the data they collect through IoT devices is the challenge in 2019.

Cost-Effective IoT Solutions for All

Du Toit predicts that the cloud bubble is beginning to burst, and the overpriced infrastructure costs we currently see in cloud infrastructure will drop as competition increases in the global market. As IoT infrastructure relies on cloud resources, we should see a drop in the cost of installing and maintaining effective IoT solutions with a positive effect on project ROI’s.

Smart Technology for Environmental Benefit

Smart technology has infinite applications for environmental benefit in both the workplace and environment we all share. 2019 will gift us more powerful devices and sensors that will work to fight an increasing amount of environmental disasters and threats.

With smarter and more effective sensors, we can collect a more accurate measure on the environmental impact across an organisation or even industry. Environmental sensors can effectively measure environmental impact, in a way that no human could. The environmental benefit of deploying sensors to analyse variables like air and water quality, radiation is a gamechanger.

Protecting valuable workplaces

Sensors should also play a role in detecting dangerous chemicals in the workplace, improving overall workplace health and safety. The applications for environmental sensors are endless, particularly when it comes to protecting health technicians.

Polluted or uninhabitable landscapes can be analysed, and a solution can be founded, without risking anyone entering the site. Optimised sensors could also be implemented in the workplace to protect valuable workers, for example miners or any workplace exposed to radiation.

Monitoring air quality to stimulate effective action

Managing air quality is another application for environmental sensors. We can look at the management of air quality either inside buildings or in the external environment. Unfortunately, clean air is becoming a sought after commodity that is difficult to acquire in some parts of the world, causing a massive strain on the health of the populations and the costs that come with it.

With the aid of specialised sensors, we can record a change in air quality in real-time, particularly when it concerns asthma suffers or people with pre-existing breathing issues. In industrial settings, being able to detect the presence of hazardous chemicals and pollution without having to send in workers offers a massive real-time health and safety benefit.

Smart Cities to protect the future

IoT has fuelled the rise of smart cities for environmental benefit. Data-driven insights can help pinpoint the most effective areas for energy efficiency and 2019 will be no different.

Creating and perfecting smart cities is another IoT hotspot to help combat climate change and preserve the environment for generations to come. Traditional cities suffer numerous urban challenges and are becoming inefficient and detrimental to maintaining ecological integrity. To achieve environmental sustainability, cities need to implement smart technology. This year will see an increase in developing and implementing that smart technology, including IoT platforms.

2019 in a Nutshell

IoT.nxt is ready to help connect businesses that are looking to manage and collect data effectively. We don’t believe in tearing down what is already built, so we overlay IoT.nxt solutions onto existing infrastructure without inconvenient downtime.

2019 stands to be a year of innovation and global productivity, truly ushering in the foundations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in which IoT will play a critical role. With more powerful devices and sensors, edge computing and IoT is the crucial glue holding together effective communication and data together to produce real-world solutions for businesses.

Are IoT Healthcare Solutions The Future Of The Healthcare Industry?

iot healthcare

The Internet of Things is taking the world by storm as it is slowly woven into our everyday lives. With about 328 million devices being connected to the internet each month, Industry 4.0 is growing at an astronomical rate. IoT is quickly being implemented in global industries such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture, smart buildings, asset tracking and IoT healthcare and allowing us humans to work and live much more efficiently.

Technology is having an unprecedented impact on how healthcare is provided. As remote monitoring allows healthcare providers to understand more about their patients, the power of the cloud enables quick feedback loops that personalise healthcare in remarkable ways. IoT has the potential to not only keep patients safe and healthy but to improve how physicians deliver care. Healthcare IoT can also boost patient engagement and satisfaction. This is done by giving patients the opportunity to spend more time interacting with their doctors.

What will IoT healthcare do for the future of the medical industry?

The Internet of Things is already changing so much about how we live, work and stay healthy. The main point of IoT is to make systems and processes more effective and efficient. That is precisely what it is doing for the healthcare industry. IoT technology is becoming a more influential presence in the healthcare field by making things easier for medical providers to keep track of and monitor patients between visits. As well as helping to predict future healthcare trends that can make diagnosing patients easier and more accurate. Implementing IoT helps to guide treatment in ways that are effective and timely. This, in turn, offers patients better care as well as more peace of mind during their recovery.

The fact is that physicians, nurses, administrators, patients, visitors, and medical devices are all continually requiring access to a reliable enterprise network. A single integrated platform that’s connected to multiple systems, applications, protocols and ‘things’ with a single operational and manageable user interface. That is IoT. It all sounds rather complicated. However, once everything is connected, productivity, efficiency, and patient satisfaction will increase significantly without any sweat off your back.

IoT healthcare solutions

Due to the positive results of IoT healthcare solutions have had in the medical industry, its use has rapidly increased. IoT has numerous applications in healthcare. This is including research, devices, care, medical information distribution, and emergency care, as well as remote monitoring, smart sensors, and medical device integration.


Access to modern research tools has rapidly developed over the years. However, the resources that are currently available to medical professionals do still lack critical real-world information. Much of the medical research that is conducted with IoT is predominantly based on past cases, controlled environments, and physical medical examinations. The use of IoT technology allows access to more valuable and accurate data and information obtained through analysis, real-time field data, and testing.

Like in many other industries, IoT can deliver data to the healthcare industry that is far superior to standard analytics. This is through making use of instruments that are capable of performing extensive research. Essentially, IoT healthcare solutions provide more practical and reliable data. As a result, the investigation into better medical solutions and discovery of unknown issues is not only far more accessible but also more accurate than current research methods. Research provides vast insights into patient care, illnesses, and medical solutions. Making it one of the most critical IoT applications in healthcare.

IoT  healthcare devices 

We know that IoT has the potential to unlock existing technology. Therefore, implementing it into current medical devices that are already improving in their power, precision and availability mean that we can unlock better healthcare and medical device solutions at a more rapid rate. As better healthcare is the end goal, the ability to get their faster is invaluable.

IoT is systematic in the way that it works to fill the gaps between the way we currently deliver healthcare and the equipment we use to do so. IoT devices essentially work by detecting flaws and revealing patterns and missing elements and then suggesting improvements as well as guiding the way forward. Examples of these devices include air quality monitors, wearable body area sensors, internet-connected gateways and cloud, and big data support systems.

Imagine if the wearable device connected to a patient tells you when their heart-rate is going off course. Or if the patient is skipping steps in their prescribed healthcare routine. Then, it shared that information with you, the healthcare professional. According to an article by HIT Consultant, “By updating the personal health data of patients on the cloud and eliminating the need to feed it into the Electrical Medical Records, IoT ensures that every tiny little detail is taken into consideration to make the most advantageous decisions for patients. Moreover, it can be used as a medical adherence and home monitoring tool.”

Care for patients

Even just implementing the Internet of Things into a medical practice allows professionals to use their already extensive knowledge and training more efficiently and practically to solve problems. The ability to monitor a patient’s health and recovery in real-time is something that will completely revolutionise the healthcare industry. With empowered medical professionals and capable technology to back them, patients have wider access to more practical care.

Most patients now are looking for a more personal experience with their doctors. They want to find someone they can trust. Patients also expect for a hospital they visit to have their medical records on file. From doctor’s visits to prescriptions to known allergies and possible predisposed conditions. They expect treatment in a timely and attentive manner and are hoping to avoid the chance of complications or misdiagnosis. Now, this may make it sound like medical patients are a bit of hard work. However, when it comes to the handling and treatment of medical issues, everyone is well within their right to have a few expectations. And IoT has the power to make them happen.

This is why IoT solutions fit so well into the supply and demand of healthcare. More and more healthcare providers are turning to IoT to offer their patients the care they want. By implementing IoT into already existing systems, hospitals have been able to reduce wait times, monitor patients’ health remotely, ensure the availability and accessibility of critical hardware, address chronic disease and even enhance drug management.

Mt. Sinai Medical Centre in New York City was able to effectively cut their emergency room wait times by 50%. That’s 50% of patients receiving the health care they need and quickly.  With remote monitoring, some patients don’t even need to pay a visit to the emergency room or hospital. Their condition could simply be managed through remote contact with their doctor while their health is being monitored.

A continuum of care

As many patients prefer for their medical information to be easily accessible by their healthcare professional, it’s advantageous for there to be a system in place that keeps a record of each visit. An article by CIO states that “IoT can streamline this process and make it possible to notify relevant providers of any visits, treatments, and medications that have been prescribed between routine visits, creating a more comprehensive continuum of care.”

Therefore, if patients are seeking different medical treatments from various specialists, or visit a different practitioner, a record of their treatment is kept and made available to relevant parties.

Medical information distribution

The distribution of accurate and current medical information to patients is one of the most challenging concepts of medical care. Ever heard those horror stories of people receiving the wrong medical file and being told they have cancer when in fact they have a common cold? Well, it happens, more than you’d think.

IoT devices not only improve health in the daily lives of individuals but also in medical, professional facilities. As with so many other industries, IoT technology removes the risk of detrimental human error. It is expected that by 2020 medical data will double every 73 days. This is with each person creating 1 million gigabytes of personal health data. There will be approximately 646 million IoT devices used by medical providers, payers, and consumers.

This staggering increase of data production means, instead of generating all this data and sending it to the cloud, IoT devices can process it to gain insights so professionals can act as quickly and accurately as possible.

Emergency Care

Emergency care services have long suffered from limited resources, an excess of demand and disconnection from the base facility. IoT analytics and automation mean that emergencies can be tended to remotely. Relevant healthcare providers can gain access to the patient files before they even arrive at the hospital. The allows for the appropriate actions to be taken immediately after the patient arrives.

Connected patients, connected beds, connected medications, and critical supplies all have a massive impact on how things are handled in the emergency room. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to visit an emergency room, you’ll know how painful endless wait times and dismissive service can be. When you’re already in pain, this is the last thing you want.

To effectively bottleneck the delivery of emergency room care, many elements need to be tightly choreographed. These include the patient’s arrival, intake staff, processes, doctors, specialists, beds, medical equipment, drug doses, supplies, and other hospital resources. Any delay or hiccup regarding any of these elements can cause a domino effect. This slows down the entire operation of that emergency room. IoT connected devices could provide actionable data that helps rescue and expedite the patient experience.

Remote monitoring with IoT Healthcare

With aging populations and an increase in chronic disease all over the world, the need for efficient healthcare solutions that help maintain the well-being of people is at an all-time high. IoT remote monitoring is one solution that is proving to help decrease the pressure on hospitals and other healthcare providers, reduce healthcare costs, improve homecare for patients as well as provide more extensive ongoing support for the elderly and people suffering from chronic diseases.

As traditional health-monitoring models are typically quite time consuming and inconvenient, there is a high demand for efficient healthcare solutions that can help to deliver smarter, more accurate and timely treatment to medical patients. Since the birth of IoT, there has been an increase in the use of mobile technologies and smart devices in the healthcare industry.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) offer medical patients better access to caregivers. This is as IoT healthcare solutions increase the capacity of medical workers to treat more patients. As well as improving the quantity of care, RPM also can improve the quality of care. As mentioned before, patients may be able to decrease the number of visits they make to the doctor significantly. For people living with chronic diseases, this can help to improve their quality of life factors by a mile.

When it comes to the health of the medical providers, RPM connects them more directly with relevant patient data. This makes their daily routines more efficient and eases the possibility of them burning out. Happy doctors generally mean happy patients.

Furthermore, remote monitoring helps patients be more accountable for their health. This is by giving them access to comfortable, familiar and easy to understand technology. This level of familiarity – with some take-home devices resembling that of a smartphone or tablet – patients are far more likely to engage in tracking their health from home. Better engaged patients also tend to take more control of their health. They want to stay healthy, therefore, are more likely to embrace caregivers’ recommendations and track their progress.

The future of IoT healthcare solutions

IoT healthcare is not without its challenges. As the Internet of Things is still in its infancy, there are many developments yet to come. Some challenges that lie in front of IoT healthcare include:

  • Security threats – the security of personal health information, stored and conveyed through connected devices.
  • Multiple device integration – device manufacturers are yet to agree upon set protocols and standards. A difference in protocols results in complications with the process of grouping the information.
  • Inferring results from extensive data – coming up with results from such a significant amount of data can be challenging without a refined analytics program and data experts.

However, since the creation of IoT health, organisations within the healthcare industry, as well as IoT providers, have been able to manage these challenges through implementation. In fact, nearly 60% of health organisations have introduced IoT devices into their facilities. While 73% use IoT for maintenance and monitoring.

Furthermore, 87% of healthcare organisations plan to implement IoT technology into their facilities by 2019. This is slightly higher than the 85% of businesses across various other industries.

It is clear that IoT healthcare is on the rise and taking the healthcare industry by storm. With the right IoT provider, you can implement IoT technology into your healthcare facility without disruption to everyday operations. With technology-agnostic IoT solutions, a digitalised, interconnected environment can be overlaid into existing setups. Meaning your older equipment can be protected, data feeds have more interconnectivity, and real-time actionable insights can be drawn. Therefore, with the IoT healthcare community set to account for $117 billion by 2020, IoT healthcare solutions are not to be ignored.

IoT And SCADA: Is One Going To Replace The Other?

Industrial IoT and the connected factory concept are red-hot topics. Yet often, there is confusion among professionals in both on and offline discussions around the role of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications. Questions like, “Does IoT replace SCADA?”, “Can the two be integrated?” and “What is the difference between IoT, SCADA & PLC?” always arise.

Essentially, IoT should be viewed as a technology that is implemented on top of SCADA. It makes things like scalability, data analytics, standardisation and interoperability realities.

So, does the Internet of Things replace SCADA, or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition as the textbooks call it? With the implementation of IoT, Industry 4.0 and the interaction with the well-established SCADA systems, these questions of uncertainty are being raised more and more. For over 40 years, SCADA has helped various industries monitor and manage their applications and processes. It helps boost the efficiency of operations and reduce costs. Yet with technological advances expanding the range of both systems and monitoring methods available, and as the world connects via smartphones and internet cloud technologies, some believe that perhaps SCADA has had its day.

Co-founder and CEO of IoT.nxt, Nico Steyn, noted that “in fact, IoT is what’s going to bring SCADA systems to the next level. Instead of fighting against each other, the two technologies can instead integrate to push industry even closer to the edge.”

What is SCADA?

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition is just as the name suggests. Essentially, it is a system of software and hardware that allows industries to control industrial processes locally or at remote locations, monitoring, gathering and processing real-time data. It also allows direct interaction with smart devices and human-machine interface software and records events into a log file.

So, SCADA is much like IoT. Yet IoT, the shiny new technology, is developing faster than anything we’ve seen in recent years. However, SCADA is still an important concept in the oil and gas industry. Especially when it comes to monitoring offshore or onshore extraction processes or pipeline from a central remote location. It is used similarly in the mining industry to monitor environmental factors and to track assets. Power utilities use SCADA in Energy Management Systems (EMS) as well as Distribution Management Systems (DMS) to optimise the performance of transmission and distribution networks and to protect the grid network. Then, SCADA is also used by railways to control traction power supply, implement train control automation, and manage communication, electrical and mechanical assets at stations.

So, SCADA systems are still predominant within heavy asset industries. With three generations of SCADA – standalone, distributed and networked – some industries are starting to utilize what some know as the fourth generation SCADA application. Some also know this to be the Internet of Things. And, as the fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, implementing fourth generation SCADA with the revolutionizing technology of IoT seems very fitting.

What is PLC?

One technology that has been running relatively parallel to SCADA over the past few decades is the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). The PLC is yet another form of technology that is believed to be becoming slightly outdated due to so many IoT developments within Industry 4.0.

The Programmable Logic Controller receives information from connected sensors or input devices, processes the data, and triggers outputs based on pre-programmed parameters. Essentially, a PLC can monitor and record real-time data such as machine productivity or operating temperature. It can also automatically start and stop processes, and generate alarms if a machine malfunctions.

Many of the functions of a PLC operate in correlation to those of SCADA and IoT. However, in Industry 4.0, programmable controllers are still being called upon to communicate data via web browser, connect to databases via Structured Query Language (SQL) and to the cloud via Message Queuing Telemetry Transport.

“We don’t believe that there has ever been, or likely ever will be, a technology that will be rendered irrelevant. When it comes to IoT, the technology will rather enhance device capabilities and further technological developments. This will protect legacy infrastructure and future-proofing a plant or factory,” Mr Steyn added.

A partner in IoT

Ease of installation, reduced cost, increased data accuracy and worldwide remote control and monitoring are all things that IoT offers heavy asset industries. However, as IoT is a relatively new technology in relation to SCADA and PLC, its capabilities are naturally adaptable to modern industry demands. That being said, when SCADA began, it allowed manufacturers’ systems to work together in real-time, much like IoT is doing now. Therefore, it’s very much apparent that the strength of SCADA systems and its technological capabilities are still relevant even in industry 4.0. Where it falls short, however, is processing to the rest of a business to create a truly connected ecosystem. The question shouldn’t be about getting rid of or replacing SCADA, but rather SCADA, then what?

Currently, IoT is revolutionising SCADA by offering more standardisation and openness. IoT is also providing scalability, interoperability and enhanced security by introducing the concept of the IoT platform. Essentially, both platforms are used to increase overall productivity by integrating smart maintenance. As well as waste reduction, increase in efficiency, a decrease in downtime and the extension of equipment life.

Information generated from SCADA systems acts as one of the data sources for IoT. SCADA’s focus is on monitoring and controlling. Whereas, IoT is more focused on analysing machine data to improve your productivity and impact your top line. IoT is essentially a culmination of advances in the connectivity of hardware and data networks that SCADA provides. As well as cloud computing and bit-data processing. In short, IoT begins where SCADA and PLC end.

So, while the IoT market is still in early production, it can coexist with SCADA. IoT is bringing about a wave of new business models and technologies that are changing the landscape of SCADA. However, the SCADA paradigm has always been one that is flexible to industry shifts.

Integrate or die

Admittedly, the SCADA platform is lacking particular innovations, otherwise, the need for IoT would be far more subjective. SCADA is currently being influenced by IoT concepts and solutions that are quickly being integrated into SCADA architecture. This is done so seamlessly that we won’t ever notice a difference.

However, SCADA is still currently limited to the factory floor. Data taken from the factory devices are being viewed only inside the plant. Whereas IoT takes that data, offers insights to the user and makes it available anywhere, anytime. This, in turn, enables new business models to be created.

Steyn also noted that “without the supportive innovations that IoT offers the SCADA and PLC platforms, it is possible that these technologies could, down the track, lose some necessity as more technologies come along that don’t consist of the same integrative nature that IoT carries.”

How IoT can help

If you already have a SCADA system in place, you can integrate the IoT solution with your SCADA system and collect data from a Data Acquisition Systems (DAS) machine. By leveraging the power and scalability of IoT, you can use collected data to create a wide range of reports such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness reports, Production Data reports as well as utility reports (gas, water, power).

In the future, it’s likely that SCADA systems will evolve into those of IoT. Equipment and PLC will become more intelligent and will be able to integrate different cloud platforms. This will enable new security platforms that will further secure any data that is recorded. This means that improvements that will save money can be performed.

SCADA is more about allowing humans to interact remotely with a process. Whereas IoT is generally used as a machine-to-machine communication tool. Rather than something that exists primarily to present information to a human. That is just a small part of its process. IoT ensures that information is shared with both people and machine, rather than just people. In short, it makes sure that everyone and everything is kept in the loop at all times.

The comparative analysis 

In the end, both SCADA and IoT involve sensors and data acquisition. Although they do differ in many aspects, they both share the one common goal. The optimization of use and, eventually, better control over some devices or a process. The whole idea of a smart grid leads to SCADA and IoT integration. As SCADA is not a full control system, rather a computer system that gathers and analyses real-time data, it is useful in monitoring and controlling a plant or industrial equipment. It will gather information about a mishap, transfer it back to a central site and alert the home station. It will then carry out any necessary analysis and control and display the information in a logical and organized fashion for humans to then interpret and use accordingly.

The Internet of Things is made up of a network of physical devices connected via electronic embedding, software setups, sensor-actuators and network connectivity which all act together for the objects to connect and exchange data. IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across different networking infrastructures. Therefore, it creates opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems. This results in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit and also cuts down on human intervention.

Both platforms offer an abundance of advantages, as well as some vulnerabilities. It is predicted that by 2020, 50 billion devices or things will be connected to the internet. Therefore, the dynamics of an Internet-based control system are becoming a living reality. Industry 4.0 is an era in which emerging trend automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies are allowing for a shift from traditionally implemented SCADA to an IoT implemented one. With SCADA, cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and cognitive computing, Industry 4.0 is an era that will change the dynamics of the entire automation industry.

Automation isn’t the enemy: Job security in an age of digitisation

It’s a commonly concluded outcome in any industrial setting. Technology and automation will end up cutting out jobs. The robots will take over. The imminent change will destroy our livelihood.

It’s not an altogether wrong sentiment. Automation certainly will remove the need for a few pairs of hands in the process, but does that mean the end of careers? Absolutely not.

Let’s look to Asia to find out why automation isn’t the enemy.


A shift is unfolding in the mining industry

12 February 2018

Report by Daleen van Wyk, Corporate Communication

Mining companies are now ready for disruption and looking to introduce new technologies to drive efficiencies and revive the industry. This represents a dramatic shift in attitudes compared to a year ago.

This is the major trend identified by team IoT.nxt at the Mining Indaba hosted in Cape Town early February.

“We demonstrated the intelligent mine of the future in partnership with Deloitte and it was clear that the mining industry is looking to the future. As the 4th Industrial Revolution gains traction we expect to see mainstream adoption of innovative new technology in the mining industry,” says IoT.nxt team leader at the 2018 Mining Indaba and Director of Partnerships: Mining, Eric Croeser.

“We detected a total turnaround in attitudes compared to delegates we engaged with at the 2017 Indaba. Apart from a readiness for disruption, mining companies are actually ready to invest, which is very encouraging for an industry that remains a major employer,” Croeser says.

“There is a broad understanding that the digital way is the pivot to take the industry forward. Intelligent edge computing will be the driver to unlock systems efficiency and value to mining companies,” he added.

The digital approach is valuable because it delivers an interconnected, near real time, data driven eco-system using sensory devices on legacy and modern equipment to enhance an organisation’s ability to move from reactive to pro-active decision making. “In and industry like mining that involves so many different processes, this is extremely valuable,” Croeser says.

He noted, however, that no single company can provide everything. “You need an eco-system of partners that work together; each contributing a component of digitisation. This is Deloitte’s approach to its ‘Intelligent Mining’ project and IoT.nxt is one of its selected partners to deliver this.”

Fin24 reported that Michelle Ash, chief innovation officer of mining company Barrick, a panelist at the Indaba, said mines cannot stay where they are. “If we do we will not be able to mine anymore. Mining companies need to innovate or risk closing down.”

Ash elaborated on the use of everyday technology like smartphones and tablets and how this can improve efficiencies. “Technology should be based on human-centered design to create ease of use as opposed to having people study complex manuals.

”Financial Mail reported in its edition of 9 February 2018 that the industry’s contribution to GDP was 6.8% in 2017, slightly below the 7% recorded in 2016. “In real terms the industry grew 3.17% and contributed R312bn to the economy,” the magazine reported.

• IoT.nxt participated at the 2018 Mining Indaba in partnership with Deloitte [http://bit.ly/2BoyZAw] as part of the global consultancy’s ‘Intelligent Mining’ project.
• The Indaba attracts about 6 000 attendees; mostly from sub-Sahara Africa but also from many from other parts of the world including Canada, India and Australia.

#Summer: No more melted ice cream

13 December 2017

Ice cream is temperamental and can start changing quickly once the surrounding temperature is altered. One negligent moment of leaving a fridge open can spoil a lot of stock, leading to a double down of losses: goods and reputational damage. Yet with display fridges spread across the country in garage shops, supermarkets and cafes, it is impossible to control the ecosystem sufficiently. Compounding this are the traditional fridges, which though apt at cooling are not sophisticated enough to lend much of a hand. Replacing them all with modern equivalents is a huge and often debilitating cost.

Smollan, an international retail solutions company, partnered with IoT.nxt to develop a platform for this quandary. Utilising its Raptor gateway devices and Commander cloud platform, IoT.nxt has crafted a solution that brings stoic display fridges into the 21st century. A simple retrofitting operation transforms a fridge into an active data sentry, reporting the nuances of its operations. 

Sensors are added if needed, monitoring metrics such as the interior temperature, ambient temperature, door usage and status, power usage, and even location. It may not be a surprise that such fridges are attractive targets for criminals, because they are well-designed and convenient appliances. But by leveraging internet of things technologies, they can be geo-fenced.

The ice cream operator now enjoys a full view of its entire fridge territory, from a top-down overview right up to individual fridges. By utilising GSM networks, all the monitoring is in real-time, while the data is collected and presented intuitively through the Commander dashboards. This data is then analysed to extract real insights, enabling companies to build long-term strategy around fridge behaviours, perhaps even predicting when stock levels will run low. 

But to a more fundamental advantage, each fridge can trigger alarms if it encounters problems. A fridge door left open can be alerted through the dashboards, as well as email and sms messages. Events can also be escalated if nothing happens. Yet the true advantage here is that the workflow for these events can be set and adjusted by the fridge operator. By utilising a drag-and-drop interface, IoT.nxt’s system makes sense with the smallest amount of introduction. Those who own the platform can adjust and expand it as they see fit.

Managing ice cream and avoiding fridge theft once seemed like insurmountable problems that only a massive replacement initiative could have addressed. But well-crafted IoT technologies make it possible to modernise existing display fridges at a fraction of the cost and in very little time. That same improvement opens the doors to intuitive analytics that start delivering even more value beyond avoiding freezer burn. Made in Africa, this solution is tried-and-tested for the continent’s hot summers, which can now be even more lucrative with less risk.

In the past, ice cream operators could only hold their thumbs and hope for the best. Now, though, they can enjoy actual insight and exercise real control in the now and into the future. This is the power of IoT, created by Smollan and IoT.nxt.


Wayne Fitzjohn: US represents massive opportunity

IoT.nxt Chairman Wayne Fitzjohn has built a very successful career on challenging paradigms and equipping companies to break new ground sustainably. One of the highlights of his career was the founding of Talent10 Holdings with Chett Mahery and Joe Bester. Talent10 boasts in excess of 10 successful capital raises, including R100-million for IoT.nxt.

A highlight of Wayne’s career was at Citadel Investment Solutions, where he founded Wealth Realisation, managed a multibillion-rand portfolio and sourced the highest cumulative individual investment inflows in the Citadel Group during his tenure. Armed with BBA, MBA and CFP qualifications, as chairman of IoT.nxt Wayne brings drive, knowledge and wisdom as the company embarks on its rapid growth across various continents.

Recently, Wayne accompanied IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn on a trip to the US. We thought we would tap into his experience on that exciting business trip.


How long were you in the United States and which kinds of companies did you see?

We spent five fantastic weeks in the USA, and visited various cities including New York, Reading, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkley, Dallas and Philadelphia.  We saw a number of potential strategic partners from Telcos, Tech companies, Venture Capitalist partners and M&A Partners, as well as a number of end users, including representatives from one of the major metropoles embarking on a Smart City digital strategy.


What were a few highlights and what is something you think we can all learn from the US?

There were many highlights! Too many to mention, but let me have a go at it. The overwhelming validation we received is that what IoT.nxt has to offer is truly significant and unique, and not only competes with other IoT platforms head on, but in many instances is leading the way.

The most apparent learning from the US was without a doubt their desire to collaborate.  We met with CIOs, CEOs, VPs and MDsof some of the largest corporations in the world.  Regardless of the huge disparity between their organisations market cap and our own, we were treated us as equals and very quickly discussions progressed towards how we could help each other achieve greater leverage in the marketplace.

It is without a doubt this entrepreneurial and partnership-centric approach that has seen the US rise to the world power they are today.


As an African business, how does it change how you approach businesses or venture capitalists?

This is a methodology we have always embraced.  Seeing it in action on this scale did however highlight the need for us as South African and African operators to continue fostering a climate of collaboration and partnership – it will see us succeed as a nation and a continent in spite of the hardships we need to face in this part of the world.

We need to change our thinking from having to share the cake if we partner with others, to how we make the cake considerably bigger by partnering!  This is the art of leverage.

Has your experience in navigating uniquely African challenges placed you in a strong, competitive space globally? If so, how?

Without a doubt.  Africans generally do not have the same prodigious platform for the cultivation of ideas – whether that is in scale of infrastructure, size and risk appetite of investors, buying power of our currency, size of market and speed of adoption etc.  However, we are resilient, resourceful and determined.  We get to look at problems from a very different perspective when we do not have the luxury of these things to aid us. This results in very innovative solutions.


What is your take-home feeling on IoT.nxt’s prospects in the US market after your visit?

The US represents the largest single market in the world.  It would be short-sighted not to have startegies to go and participate in that market, especially with the value proposition of IoT.nxt.

Our ability to work with existing legacy systems and at a considerably higher speed than those with “rip-and-replace” strategies, makes us a compelling IoT play. We are therefore exploring every avenue available to us to ensure we maximise the opportunity the US – and the rest of the globe – represents.

SA executives: IoT is a business strategy

Business leaders and senior executives in South Africa see the Internet of Things (IoT) as forming part of their business strategy.

IoT.nxt conducted an Internet of Things (IoT) survey on ITWeb and the results have validated the company’s experience in where businesses stand with regards to their digital transformation road map. 62.7% of respondents in the survey said IoT is a business strategy, compared to only 27.5% who said they think it is a set of applications. The small remainder said they were not sure.

At the time of launching the survey, IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn said South African enterprises are ready for the IoT revolution. A revolution happens whether you are ready or not, and South African businesses – by all indications – want to be ready the fourth industrial revolution. This survey outcome is yet another validation of the pressing fact that the time has arrived, with local business leaders becoming more and more in tune with both awareness and adoption of IoT strategies.

IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn. Picture: IoT.nxt


This was echoed by Chief Sales Officer Andre Strauss earlier this month when he said:

“The market has significantly matured over the past year and it is generally accepted that IoT is a key underpin to unlocking the value of digital transformation.”

Photography in January 2017 by Jeremy Glyn.

It is therefore little surprise that the majority of respondents in the IoT survey answered that IoT strategy implementation is driven from the CEO down.

In yet another validation of IoT.nxt’s approach to Industrial IoT (IIoT), the vast majority of respondents in the survey, 68.8% to be exact, said that the ability to connect to existing equipment was a driving factor in implementing IoT.

Ahead of the survey, Steyn said:

“We have made great inroads with our innovative solutions that require no immediate replacement of legacy systems. Because our solution is technology-agnostic, the process of implementation happens quickly. Then, moving intelligence to the edge helps us circumvent traditional data transfer issues.”

IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn says the edge is eating the cloud. Picture: IoT.nxt

Almost two thirds of all respondents in the survey said that intelligence at the edge is very important to their company. It is by utilising this intelligence at the edge that IoT.nxt’s platform is able to unlock true business value and demonstrable return on investment, leading to increased competitiveness, relevance and profitability. That is ultimately engine behind every business strategy.



IoT platform market set to soar to $1,6-billion by 2020

According to Verizon’s report, State of the Market: Internet of things 2017, the global internet of things (IoT) platform market is set to explode by 35% per year, reaching an impressive $1,6-billion by 2020. IoT.nxt has spoken of the exponential growth curve ahead for industrial applications of IoT, and has noted that enterprises the world over are fast including IoT in their company strategies.

The Economic Times quoted Mark Bartolomeo, VP of IoT Connected Solutions at Verizon, as saying that businesses across sectors are deploying IoT in their organisations as they seek to drive value in their enterprises, and that what we have seen so far is just the “tip of the iceberg” in terms “driving economic value across the board”. (Click here to read the full Economic Times story.)

According to the report, up to 73% of executives are either researching or deploying IoT technology. The article goes on to state: “With 8.4-billion connected ‘things’ in use in 2017, up 31% from 2016, and network technology, cost reductions and regulatory pressures driving adoption, business leaders are not only paying attention, they’re getting in the game.”

This ties in perfectly with IoT.nxt’s industry experience, both in South Africa and abroad.

IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn says:
“Business leaders know that using IoT strategies will unlock greater efficiencies and cost-savings, and provide decision-makers with real-time information about all aspects of their businesses. Not including IoT in a strategy denies companies these benefits and will, over time, diminish their competitiveness in the industries in which they operate.”
The best gauge as to understand business decision-makers and their readiness for IoT deployment, is in actual interactions with executives across all industries.Chief Sales Officer of IoT.nxt Andre Strauss said earlier this week that big business has accepted that IoT needs to be part of their digital transformation roadmap. And it has happened fast.

 “The market has significantly matured over the past year and it is generally accepted that IoT is a key underpin to unlocking the value of digital transformation,”

“From our engagement with C-level executives in big business over the past couple of months, we see a definite step change in terms of digital transformation.”

Chief Sales Officer Andre Strauss. PICTURE: Jeremy Glyn, IoT.nxt

Of course, there have been obstacles to mass deployment. According to the Verizon report, standards, security and interoperability make up at least 50% of business concerns around IoT deployment. This certainly speaks to the same obstacle Jim Fletcher, of IBM Watson, highlighted about legacy systems and a difficulty with true interoperability. This has seen many executives lean toward simple use cases within particular segments of their enterprises, to track data and send status alerts.

The IoT industry is inhibited by an inability to create interconnectivity

According to Steyn, correctly designed and engineered edge technology enables edge interoperability and, more importantly, the ability to retrofit into legacy systems. This forms the core of IoT.nxt’s solution to the problems many others in the IIoT industry are grappling with.

“Legacy systems, to a large extent, were disregarded, with current players relying on the ‘rip and replace’ mentality. This mentality of winner-takes-all is not congruent with the idea of a connected world and certainly does not embrace the concept of true scalability.”

“Our solution is technology-agnostic and is quick to implement as it is overlaid onto existing infrastructure. It is able to be retrofitted onto both new and existing equipment immediately, and as organisations grow. The result is complete interconnectivity and intelligence at the edge, something other players are grappling with.”

IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn. PICTURE: Jeremy Glyn, IoT.nxt

Click here to read more about Verizon’s State of the Market: Internet of things 2017 report.

IoT.nxt approved as IBM Business Partner for Channel Value Rewards

IoT.nxt is proud to announce that it has been approved as an IBM Business Partner for Channel Rewards.

IoT.nxt has been given the green light in the category: Software open distribution products. It is no mean feat to be approved as business partner by the international giant IBM, and is testament to the strong reputation of IoT.nxt and the value it is providing for its clients.

The IBM PartnerWorld program is an initiative to empower business partners with tools and resources to help transform clients into industry leaders.

IoT.nxt Chief Operating Officer Terje Moen is understandably ecstatic at the the company becoming a business partner in the IBM Channel Value Rewards program.

“Our partnership with IBM is very important. It allows us to access the IBM software catalog for us to get technical validation on our products to ensure compatibility with IBM offerings such as Watson, which is a market-leading cognitive computing system, and which is key to IoT.”

Moen says the partnership will have a positive impact on IoT.nxt’s platform reach.

“It gives us access to promote our our platform solution to IBM’s clients, their business partners and the IBM sales team globally.”

Ultimately, a company such as IoT.nxt is built on the premise of unlocking true value for its clients, and Moen says this partnership will add another weapon to the company’s impressive arsenal.

“It benefits our clients in that we can integrate cognitive solutions within our agile IoT.nxt platform.”