A digital revolution is under way in South Africa, and it is leaving an indelible mark on industry and enterprise. It is changing how we move people and products, how we create and use energy, how we interact with and care for each other. It is influencing how we build our cities, spend our money and manage our wellbeing. It is remodelling our thinking and how we solve problems, and it is pushing us towards a connected future.
The internet of things
The internet of things, commonly called IoT, is the connection of everyday objects, or “things,” to the internet. This interconnected global web turns once-ordinary items into smart devices that can interact with each other. They can also generate and collect data, which enables them to respond intelligently to their environment.
For a practical example, within a city think of ordinary things like streetlights, traffic lights, rubbish bins, security cameras and the like. When connected, the streetlights dim to conserve power if the streets are empty, the traffic lights adjust their timing to match the flow of traffic, the bins alert the municipality or local council to the fact that they need emptying, and security cameras trigger an alarm if they sense movement in a restricted area. Similarly, sensors deployed across the city measure things like air quality and temperature, issuing alerts if necessary.
Regardless of whether we’re acutely aware or blissfully ignorant of this, the fact remains: IoT is a huge part of our lives and web-enabled devices are making our world a more switched-on place to live.
“IoT technology has a remarkable capacity to transform everyday objects into integrated, networked devices,” said iONLINE ISP founder and CEO David Farquharson. “For the average Joe or Jane, this means a lifestyle where their surroundings adapt and respond to their needs, from homes that automatically adjust climate control to cars that are safer and more efficient.
“For enterprises – be they large or small – the possibilities that IoT unlocks are near-endless. Better customer service; significant cost savings; easier scale and growth; fast and effective, data-driven decision making – the list goes on. The impact of IoT is profound and leveraging this tech to its full potential should be every organisation’s priority.”
Massive value, major growth
The global IoT market is projected to surge in the next few years, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6%. This will shift it from a current global value of US$1.2-trillion to around $2.2-trillion within the next five years, according to Statista.
South Africa is poised to keep pace with this growth rate. Research firm Mordor Intelligence assigned the country’s IoT market a value of $5.1-billion in 2022 and gave it an expected CAGR of 13.28%, which should see it reach a value of $11.3-billion by 2028.
“South Africa has one of the fastest-growing IoT markets in the Middle East and Africa region,” said Farquharson. “In our business we’ve certainly seen increased demand for IoT connectivity solutions year on year. This growing number of customers seeking secure solutions highlights a major shift in how technology is used. It proves that businesses have recognised the significant impact that connected devices can have on different industries and tells us that people are depending more on IoT tech to make their operations smoother and their processes simpler; and to find new ways to innovate.”
Read more about FlexiSIM, iONLINE’s multi-network-resilient global IoT connectivity solution.
Industries to watch
The IoT Industry Council of South Africa has confirmed the rise in IoT adoption trends. Industries like manufacturing, automotive and logistics are tussling with energy, agriculture and healthcare, alongside utilities management, smart buildings and smart cities, for top achievers in growth. The retail sector is another that will see significant growth and is even now riding the wave of consumerism. Some large-scale retailers already have IoT and artificial intelligence solutions in use, curating a personalised shopping experience for customers.
Even suppliers are benefiting from this. Small-holder farmers, for example, are using apps to get end-to-end value chain digitisation, which encompasses all stages of the chain, from initial production through to final distribution.
As for infrastructure development, projects for three smart cities for South Africa are in the pipeline, these being Nkosi City, bordering the Kruger National Park; the African Coastal Smart City in the Eastern Cape and the Lanseria Smart City in Gauteng.
Bolder, better solutions
“IoT applications have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. They’re less complex than they were initially and are also less expensive to implement, making them more accessible,” Farquharson said. “Business owners have less hesitation about integration now that more is known about privacy and cybersecurity, and since return on investment has been consistently proven.”
However, having the right resources and tools available to properly manage the networks, systems, devices and data is crucial. “When forming part of a carefully considered IoT roadmap and applied with strategic intent, this is a significant driving force for business success.”
Read more about CentralFlex, iONLINE’s purpose-built data management platform.
iONLINE is a leading connectivity provider that delivers cutting-edge technology solutions to businesses globally. Founded and headquartered in South Africa, with offices in the UK, the US and Australia, iONLINE is dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and ensuring that its clients remain connected in a constantly changing world. Furthermore, iONLINE is committed to promoting positive change for both society and the environment, reflecting its dedication to corporate social responsibility. Visit www.ionlinesp.com for more or connect on LinkedIn or Facebook.
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