Any industry. Any system. Any process.

Top brains to watch in 2019

December 2018 By Leslie Stones

Technology never stands still – which is a good job considering that our problems never stand still either.

Issues like poverty, hunger, disease, the quest for knowledge and connectivity or even our ceaseless desire to be entertained are burning challenges that the smartest brains are working to resolve.

Here are some of the people who Brainstorm believes are poised to make a difference.

Nico Steyn, CEO of IoT.nxt

Everyone talks about the Internet of Things (IoT), but Nico Steyn is such a believer that he named his company after the concept.

Steyn is the CEO of IoT.nxt, which has grown from a startup in 2015 to employ more than 100 people, with offices in The Netherlands and the US. That global expansion was made possible with R100m from its investment partner Talent10 Holdings. Steyn aims to grow IoT.nxt into an internationally relevant, but still proudly African business, creating jobs for Africans, and solutions for the world.

The company develops innovative software based on its patented Raptor gateway, which is technology-agnostic and lets companies rapidly digitise any industry, system or process to create an interconnected, interoperable ecosystem without disrupting the business. It’s been described as a world-leading framework that makes efficiencies, cost savings and increased revenue from IoT a reality, according to Nedbank, which chose IoT.nxt to participate in its Disruption Agenda matchmaking programme.

One project is seeing the Raptor gateway being rolled out in Florida and Dallas to optimise the amount of energy used by schools. Three people from IoT.nxt went to the US to manage the operation and to train local partners to take it forward.
Steyn and IoT.nxt have won several awards already, including being named by Gartner as African Aspiring Innovators to Watch, being a finalist in the Da Vinci TT100 innovation index for Emerging Enterprises, and being the overall winner of the MTN Business IoT Awards.

The company has achieved Level 1 B-BBEE status and is a Microsoft Gold Partner. It’s also become a silver partner of The Linux Foundation, a status that excited Steyn as he sees great opportunities to use open source software in IoT applications.

Michael Jordaan, Founder of Montegray Capital

During his decade as the CEO of First National Bank, Michael Jordaan was dubbed South Africa’s coolest CEO and Africa’s most innovative banker.
He’s still being cool and innovative despite ‘retiring’ in 2014, since he’s put his skills and his money to good use by forming Montegray Capital, a one-man-band venture capital company.

The modus operandi for Montegray Capital is to find highly differentiated businesses with a minimum two-year trading history, proven customer traction and the potential for rapid growth. In exchange for a meaningful minority stake, it provides those companies with growth capital of R2 million to R5 million, strategic advice and access to business networks.

Read more: https://bit.ly/2F5D9jH


From startup to international expansion

CEO, Nico Steyn, shared more about the establishment if IoT.nxt and what the company has achieved; in an interview with Classic1027FM Business Breakfast. Listen here:  

IoT: Its moment has come

Larry Claasen 29 June 2018

For years, there has been talk of the wonders of the Internet of Things (IoT). Enabling machines to send and receive data has long been touted as the next big thing, but although it has held a lot of promise, IoT never really seemed to get out of the starting blocks. This seems to be changing. As devices are becoming ‘smarter’ and cheaper, networks are being configured to handle large quantities of data.

Has the moment arrived for the IoT? Or does the ecosystem still need to be developed?

Brian Sangudi, principal strategy consultant, Ericsson Middle East & Africa: The ecosystem still has to evolve, but having said that, I definitely think the moment has arrived. Those who want to take advantage can already do so. The building blocks, the infrastructure, is already there.

Alain du Toit, Intelligent Cloud Business Group lead, Microsoft SA: One of the underlying challenges the IoT still has to face is uptake of IPv6 from an enterprise perspective. We are running out of IP addresses. As millions of devices come online, they are going to gobble up an already depleted IPv4 addressing scheme, and if enterprises don’t deal with this, they are going to run out of IP addresses in terms of building this ecosystem.

Vishal Barapatre, CTO, In2IT Technologies: The statistics don’t lie. We are sitting with 22 billion devices now, and by 2025, it will be three times this number. There’s not only more connectivity, but the falling prices of sensors are also playing a role.

Dr Mark Nasila, head of advanced analytics for consumer and retail, FNB: From what I’ve seen, the IoT is already ‘the business’ for a lot of organisations. This is especially true in the financial sector, where many firms have already invested a lot in their data strategies. As they now understand their customers a lot better, they are also better at being proactive in providing them with services and goods. This has seen a lot of organisations move from providing a single service, to being a multi-service provider.

Greg Vercellotti, executive director, Dariel: Our research has shown that the layers of the IoT have matured sufficiently, and you can go right from a sensor to artificial intelligence. Because of this, we are seeing uptake in the business world. We are starting to see IoT becoming part of the business processes, the decision-making and the transactions. With the weaving of IoT into these processes, we are seeing its arrival into the business world.

Steve Mallaby, COO, Argility Technology Group: It has undoubtedly arrived. It’s been around for many years, the concept of devices being connected to each other. If you look at the rapid growth that’s taken place, you are even starting to see fragmentation across the industry. The key development will be how the mature players in the sector start working together. But this is something that’s still a work in progress.

Warren Green, governance, risk and compliance expert, CURA Software Solutions: I think the moment has arrived. But I do think the ecosystem will continue to develop. For me, this will be from a governance, risk and compliance perspective.

Phathizwe Malinga, CEO, SqwidNet: We view the IoT ecosystem as a symphony in four parts. Locally, we have about ten device makers, there are also two connectivity providers, as well as several application providers. The last part is industry, which is starting to realise that IoT is not a fringe thing or a complementary thing; it’s a core part of their operations. Industry needs to make its assets sweat, but in order to do so, it needs to know where they are, which is what IoT allows it to do.

Read more: https://bit.ly/2Kp4NeD


A true IOT ecosystem design will rely heavily on edge capabilities

By Marilyn de Villiers 14 June 2018

One of the fastest-growing trends in the ICT sector, and one that is generating considerable hype and attention is the Internet of things (IOT). Analyst firm Gartner predicts that there will be 26 billion connected devices by 2020.

Nico Steyn, CEO of IOT technology innovator, Centurion-based IOT.nxt reckons there are more than 450 IOT commercially available “platforms” that have been set up to enable this still futuristic technology.

However, Steyn believes that despite the fact that the technology has started to gain mainstream traction, the IOT industry could be heading for a crash, the likes of which have not been seen since the “dot.bomb” era almost two decades ago.

“During the .com bomb era, people ran around with amazing ideas that they thought would take over the world once mass adoption took place. This was followed by an implosion which saw a huge number of concepts, ideas and investments disappear. A similar trend is developing in the adoption of IOT and in digitalisation in general,” he says.

Although this is unlikely to be on the scale of the dot.bomb fallout, it will result in the weeding out of many “irrelevant” IOT solutions. These are solutions that he believes are trying to address the complex problem of the interconnectivity required for a true Internet of things from the top down, often using outmoded or inappropriate technologies.

The problem, Steyn maintains, is that many of those involved in the IOT space do not yet understand where the true value of IOT lies. Those that are focused exclusively on the cloud and Big Data, to the exclusion of what is happening within the edge, the layer where all the interconnected “things” lie, will find it all but impossible to unlock the value IOT can deliver.

According to Steyn, they need to recognise that “the edge is eating the cloud”.

Full story: https://bit.ly/2M9eo5F



10 South African startups leading innovation in IoT [Digital All Stars]

By Daniel Mpala on 12 March, 2018

Digital All Stars is a series of articles which aims to celebrate the best of South African digital. The articles, which will appear on Memeburn and Ventureburn, recognise and celebrate South Africa’s best digital entrepreneurs, business people, advertisers, and media professionals among others.

In two years time, experts predict that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet. This convergence of devices physical objects — with sensors and software — and the internet, enabling them to transmit and receive data is known as the internet of things (IoT).

With IoT Forum Africa 2018 kicking off this week at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, we look at 10 South African Internet of Things (IoT) startups that are leading innovation in the field, and will likely usher the country into the fourth industrial revolution.

Sensor Networks

Cape Town-based IoT platform Sensor Networks was founded in 2015 by Mark Allewell. The company has its origins in Bluetooth trackers which helped users find lost items.

Sensor Networks has developed a web platform aimed at helping insurance companies reduce risk through integration with IoT sensors – all of which is built inhouse.

Last year Allewell said the startup secured “less than R10-million” in an equity funding deal from South African venture capital (VC) firm 4Di Capital — through its Exponential Ventures Fund.


Founded in 2015, this Pretoria-based startup focuses on delivering innovative IoT software and hardware solutions. IoT.nxt’s open platform network enables users of the platform to carry out rapid software development and integration.

The startup, which is led by co-founder and CEO Nico Steyn (pictured above), is the winner of the 2017 MTN Business IoT Award and is also a Microsoft Gold Partner for Data Platform.

Last month, the company — which opened an office in The Hague last year — as part of its ongoing expansion into Europe the startup secured a partnership with listed Dutch company ICT Group NV.

The startup reported last year that it had raised R100-million in funding from Talent Holdings.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2FKjtBy


Is SA enterprise ready for the IOT revolution?

By Suzanne Franco, Surveys Editorial Project Manager at ITWeb
Johannesburg, 7 Dec 2017

CEOs have the final say when it comes to implementing IOT solutions, said over 50% of businesses polled in a recent survey.

ITWeb, in partnership with IoT.nxt, conducted an online IOT survey in September to examine the state of IOT adoption by SA organisations and where they stand with regards to their digital transformation road map.

Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said they believe IOT is a business strategy, compared to 27% who thought it to be a set of applications.

When it comes to the ownership of the IT function, the results show an equal split between IT department and the CEO, with 30% each. A further 23% said it’s the responsibility of business operations, and 16% of business have allocated IOT ownership to the BI team.

Nico Steyn, CEO at IoT.nxt, believes that 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 for 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,” he says.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2iDrj2U

Nico Steyn: An IOT pioneer

Staff Writer ITWeb
Johannesburg, 8 November 2017

Nico Steyn, co-founder and CEO of IoT.nxt, attributes much of his company’s success to good fortune, timing and an amzing team that has played in its favour.  “What started off as an integration exercise, led us to where we are today.”

He has always seen great potential in IT, and has had a varied career, building up and selling CCS Software a successful retail software business, and then joining the corporate world as MD of Datanet and Pinnacle Africa Gauteng, till in conjunction with IoT.nxt co-founders he saw an opportunity to become a pioneer in the industrial IoT sector.

Up until recently most of the rhetoric has been around big data, the cloud and smart sensors. “Our first IoT exercise we were required to not only integrate and retrofit but also to be able to have these devices intelligently interact. What we have developed is unique from that perspective.” As it stands we see more and more migrating into the edge and gence we maintain that the Edge is eating the Cloud.

In reality, he says there are very few IoT platforms that allow businesses to be truly technology agnostic, and to retrofit and allow them to leverage not just intelligence in the cloud, but to bring in a layer of intelligence close to the edge.

Currently, Steyn says more than 90% of what is currently deployed in the world is unconnected, and this is where IoT.nxt comes in as the underpin to digitization is getting everything in the ecosystem connected, existing as well as new.

“There are a lot of our industries under pressure, mining, manufacturing and using yesterday’s solutions for today’s challenges is destined for extinction. You must be innovative, you have to do things differently, and embrace technology that can take businesses back from marginal into profit, that is game changing, not just for the business, but for the people. We don’t just make money for the shareholders, we save jobs.”

Read more: http://bit.ly/2m5pkcg