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Microsoft teams up with local IOT start-up in global deal

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 26 Jan 2021
Ajay Lalu, co-founder and director of CIRT.
Ajay Lalu, co-founder and director of CIRT.

Local start-up Consumption Information Real Time (CIRT), a 100% black-owned Internet of things (IOT) data insights solutions provider, and Microsoft are teaming up to drive IOT solutions that accelerate digital transformation.

The deal, announced today, will see CIRT integrate its solutions such as Q-Hop, Fridgeloc Solution, Vaccloc and Temploc Cold Supply Chain Monitor Solution with Azure IOT Central and Microsoft Power BI services.

All CIRT solutions will eventually be on-boarded to Azure Marketplace.

The key initiative of this multiyear strategic alliance is to provide global clients with access to IOT solutions that the companies say will foster digital acceleration for industries worldwide.

As part of the agreement, Microsoft will provide technical guidance, support and access to engineering resources, business development resources and integration of CIRT solutions to Microsoft Azure.

“At a time when the needs of customers and businesses are constantly changing, the collaboration with CIRT is necessary,” says Tony Shakib, IOT business acceleration GM at Microsoft.

“Many of our retail clients constantly seek innovative IOT solutions to help them create in-store and online experiences that build customer loyalty. The strategic alliance with CIRT will provide our global clients with access to a stream of innovative IOT solutions.”

In a statement, the company says Microsoft business development teams have already started to work with CIRT on various go-to-market initiatives.

One of the initiatives is CIRT’s latest solution – Vaccloc – which monitors the cold supply chain for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

“It can link into a blockchain platform, giving complete transparency to doctors and patients, thereby ensuring the efficacy of the vaccine prior to administration. Cold supply chain monitoring is a significant issue, especially in developing countries in Africa and South America due to distances that vaccine vials need to travel to get to patients,” says Microsoft.

Ajay Lalu, co-founder and director of CIRT, says: “We are currently engaging with several global fuel retailers and a mobile network operator to deploy our latest solution for retailers – Q-Hop. Q-Hop is a contactless and cashless retail experience for grocery, personal care and convenience retailers.

“The Q-Hop solution was developed during a hard lockdown in South Africa entirely virtually and proudly using local technology. Our alliance with Microsoft will give us the global platform to accelerate the deployment and continued evolution of our solutions. Microsoft has been an amazing strategic partner from the outset and supported the development and deployment of our IOT solutions.”

CIRT deals with large enterprise clients like Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev’s) South African subsidiary South African Breweries, where the organisation co-developed and deployed a pilot of its Fridgeloc Connected Cooler solution.

The start-up shot to prominence in 2019 when it started monitoring challenges posed by AB InBev’s 100 000-plus refrigerators stationed at bars, taverns and restaurants in SA, which had costs running into millions of rands.

CIRT was appointed to resolve the challenges, using Digital Twin edge-enabled wireless sensors built into Staycold refrigerators, as well as IOT network connectivity from Thingstream.

The company’s Fridgeloc Connected Cooler, an IOT solution, was used to resolve the challenges. It was able to capture temperature and location data, forwarding it over a cellular-based IOT connection via Thingstream's IOT connectivity.