The Internet of Things (IoT) is being called the fourth industrial revolution due to the scale of impact it can have on various industries, with McKinsey saying interoperability will unlock 60 per cent of the estimated US$4 trillion to US$11 trillion of economic value that will be generated by the IoT by 2025.
South African startup IoT.nxt is plotting a revolution from Africa in this space, with the Centurion-based company having developed a framework that moves business beyond islands of automation and towards a seamless horizontally and vertically integrated digital enterprise.
In short, the startup has developed software that allows pretty much all devices to be connected and to share information. Given the importance placed on this interoperability by the likes of McKinsey, the team at IoT.nxt believes it has developed an innovation that can put Africa at the heart of the IoT revolution.
The IoT.nxt platform creates enterprise wide data-connectivity between new data sources such as sensors or things, less sophisticated legacy systems, enterprise systems, applications, machines and cloud services, allowing people and machines on any network using any operating system to connect and interact.
Launched in October of last year by Nico Steyn, Terje Moen and Bertus Jacobs, IoT.nxt is certain it has identified a massive opportunity in the IoT.
“Most systems we came across globally operate in silos – not all IoT devices can talk to each other,” chief executive officer (CEO) Steyn told Disrupt Africa.
“There is a myriad of companies working on different products, technologies and platforms, and making these devices communicate with each other is no small feat – seamless overall compatibility did not exist. This is where saw the gap,” he said.
The IoT.nx innovation offers companies a consolidated view of their entire IoT ecosystem, allowing them to input all documented business processes into one workflow application and detect all devices on a network. The startup has already implemented the solution at a large scale abattoir and is in the final stages of introducing it at a well-known wine estate in the Western Cape.
The platform is completely technology agnostic, which allows a company to leverage off existing investments in systems and devices installed, and runs on a mobile platform handling all industry standard protocols.
Steyn said the goal is for the existing control centres used at many companies to become a thing of the past, as the IoT.nxt solution will allow whatever device to create an immediate alert when one of the devices, sensors, applications – anything that is connected – experiences a problem, breakdown or when an emergency situation develops.
This IoT ecosystem is managed by the IoT.nxt device known as the Raptor. The Raptor allows for the migration of analogue devices and inputs into a digital platform, serving as a filter for big data and delivering cost savings and efficiencies to the client’s IoT ecosystem.
Let’s say, for example, that a company operates with Siemens air conditioners, Chubb lifts, Apple and Dells computers, an ADT alarm system, and Truco conveyor belts. The IoT.next solution can connect all of these on one platform that allows for communication, fast response times when incidents occur, and off-site management with cloud-based technology using a mobile device. It is a development the startup believes will have a global impact.
“We are currently focused on Southern Africa but obviously there is global application for something as unique as we have developed,” Steyn said. “We have had approaches from several large multinationals. The approaches have ranged from interest to partner to acquisition but at this stage the latter is not an option while the former is something we are exploring.”
IoT.nxt is lucky enough to have found what Steyn described as “exceptional funding partners” in Talent10 Holdings, which not only contributes capital but also considerable strategic, financial and marketing skills.
“They are more than investors – they are part of our team,” he said, adding the company has an annuity-based income model, similar to many leading software companies.
At this stage, Steyn said IoT.nxt does not see any competitors, only potential collaborators.
“We believe we can play a role in any IoT rollout in any industry with different partners to facilitate business efficiencies that result in greater profitability for those companies,” he said.
“We have set targets for ourselves and are very strategic in the way we want to progress. Our growth will be measured to ensure we deliver an exceptional solution at all times.”