Innovation is about looking three years into the future
IoT.nxt Chief of Product Engineering, André Jacobs, won the 2020 IITPSA Technology Excellence Award* last month. We asked him about his career, the innovation culture of IoT.nxt and more.
What does winning this award mean to you?
I think it will mean more for our company. In months and years ahead, people will remember that someone won an award for the technology of IoT.nxt and I believe being recognised for this award, might potentially attract great talent to our company. People who want to work in an environment where innovation is a core value and where teams look to the future and uses technology to achieve a great outcome for business. This award will help us attract those tech talent, which I am very excited about. Also, it is great to receive recognition from my peers in the industry.
If someone asks you what is the one thing that is a standout innovation that you and your team developed since the establishment of IoT.nxt in 2015, what would that be?
The development of our Commander IoT Platform is huge for us. Commander has grown from a single instance deployment to being deployed in many countries across the world, running many customer instances. It has become a very scalable IoT platform, with many features supporting many diverse business verticals.
In addition, there are many different micro-innovations throughout the full IoT stack that we developed. The Raptor is of course a key element – the way it is designed to integrate with any device is a stand-out feature. The recently developed Virtual-Raptor – we called it VRaptor – is also something very unique in the IoT world. This virtual edge layer is becoming a key element of what we offer, of what customers need to truly scale IoT deployments, deployed closer to the edge to handle the volume of traffic at a much low latency and paving the way to handle 5G data volumes.
How do you keep the commitment to innovation alive?
We consistently look at new ways to do things. When we develop something new, we not only focus on what a customer wants us to do, but we think of the things the customer has not thought of yet, anticipate what they will need in the future. We look at least two to three years ahead, anticipating what our future customer will need from us.
How did you become involved in technology and what attracted you to this career?
I sold my first computer program when I was twelve years old. At the time there was no internet, and I sold my program to a magazine. They would print the program source code listing in the magazine for people to manually type in or if you paid extra the magazine would send you a disk with the program and source code on it. From there it was just a natural thing for me, to develop software, I never really thought about doing anything else.
Is working at IoT.nxt and the work you do a highlight of your career?
Absolutely. I have worked in a corporate environment and also at a few start-ups. All my previous experience and the diverse projects I worked on led up to what I, with our tech team, have been able to develop at IoT.nxt. Creating the IoT platform and building the tools that our channel partners can present to their customers is very satisfying. Working with very smart people on a project I really enjoy is definitely a highlight for me.
Sustainability has become a global theme for business and governments. How can technology support sustainability goals?
Working towards that is the essence of what we do. Most of the applications that we have been involved with is focused on optimising savings for our customers. Companies save and use less, which is good for the environment. We help companies reduce and make them leaner, which contributes to achieving sustainability goals. Also, because our solutions are designed to interface with legacy systems, it reduces consumption as companies do not need to replace existing equipment in order to get the benefits that using IoT technology delivers.
Do we have exceptional tech talent in SA?
Absolutely. Although there is a demand for the country’s technology skills, what I have found is that the people who work with IoT.nxt enjoy working on something that is meaningful, creating something that has not been done before.
*The award is presented by IITPSA in association with ITWeb and the Gordon Institute of Business Science. It recognises a person or team who has made exceptional / innovative use of information technology or has designed an innovative new technology for an organisation and has exhibited technological excellence that has delivered measurable benefit for business and / or the SA economy.
This is the most recent award for IoT.nxt. Earlier awards:
- IoT World awards USA 2020: Nomination for Best IoT Energy Solution
- Intel: MRS Solution & IoT Alliance Partner 2020
- Dell Preferred Partner 2020
- Da Vinci tt100 2019 Management of Technology Award for Medium Enterprises
- Microsoft best Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partner 2019 and finalists in a further 8 categories.
- Categorised as a notable vendor for IIoT in Gartner Magic Quadrant for IoT Platforms report, July 2019.
- nxt founding CEO and now director, Nico Steyn, was a finalist for the IITPSA SA IT Personality of the Year Award in 2017 and 2018.
- HPE OEM solutions partner.
- IBM Business Partner for Channel Rewards.
- Microsoft Gold Partner: Cloud Platform 2018
- Microsoft Gold Partner: Data Platform 2017
- Overall Winner and Best Commercial Solution 2017 MTN Business IoT Awards South Africa.
- Finalist in the Da Vinci tt100 innovation index for Emerging Enterprises in 2016.
- nxt was selected by global consulting giant Gartner as one of six African aspiring innovators ahead of Gartner’s Symposium/ITXpo held in Cape Town in September 2016.
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