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Building the ecosystem to drive innovation through IOT

The complexity of the Internet of things implementations can be eliminated by ensuring you have all the right components in place at the outset, says Phathizwe Malinga, MD of SqwidNet.

Johannesburg, 22 Feb 2019
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Phathizwe Malinga, Managing Director of SqwidNet.
Phathizwe Malinga, Managing Director of SqwidNet.

The Internet of things (IOT) is touted as a driver of digital transformation and innovative disruption, but few organisations have embraced the opportunity it presents. It is seen as a complex technology mesh and companies are hesitant to navigate these new and unknown waters. As with the maps of old, where lies IOT lies the motif: 'Here there be dragons...'

Yet IOT, in its simplest form, is connecting 'sensors' to things we value to collect data that can be used to inform decision-making. And, according to Phathizwe Malinga, Managing Director of SqwidNet, the complexity can be eliminated by ensuring you have all the right components in place at the outset.

"An IOT solution can be broken down into four components and is as simple as A, B, C and D. That means that all you need to put an IOT solution together is the application, back-end, connectivity, and devices," he says. "Through the Sigfox partner network, you can already access over 600 end products from over 600 IOT companies worldwide. This is an expansive IOT ecosystem that provides any business with the ability to tap into the potential of IOT and harness it for their own long-term success."

As the Sigfox operator in South Africa, SqwidNet is bringing together an ecosystem of application, back-end and device providers to giving clients access to a valuable, comprehensive resource that gives the business the access it needs to drive innovation through IOT.

SqwidNet is actively growing its partner network to ensure it has a comprehensive ecosystem in place to simplify the process of implementing an IOT solution for business. "As the local Sigfox provider, we have access to their global ecosystem of partners and are bringing them together to provide solutions to African problems," says Malinga. "While international solutions might not necessarily be an exact fit for our unique challenges on the continent, this pool of international expertise allows us to look at existing solutions and to adapt them to meet the needs of our local customers."

He adds that this eliminates the need for clients to source a variety of solution providers to fulfil their IOT requirements. "Our ecosystem includes the application, back-end, and device providers, allowing clients to select partners that will be able to deliver on a holistic IOT solution that runs on our nationwide IOT network that is low-cost and low-power. With our growing partner network, we give local companies access to a global IOT ecosystem that can bring their assets to life."

Malinga concludes that the perception of IOT can be simplified by focusing on the problem rather than complex technologies that resolve it. "There are a number of devices and applications that might have been developed with a specific problem in mind, that, when tweaked slightly, can solve other problems as well. The key here is to apply design-thinking and not limit your creativity to what you think can be done. Sometimes even the smallest of tweaks can solve an entirely different problem. The biggest success factor lies in applying design-thinking and adapting existing components. As Aristotle famously said, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That is why we continue to invest in building out our network to ensure that we drive innovation through IOT as part of our broader ecosystem."


SqwidNet was launched in November 2016 as the Sigfox operator in South Africa. SqwidNet is driving innovation through a nationwide IOT network that is low-cost and low-power. With its growing partner network, SqwidNet gives business access to an IOT ecosystem that brings their assets to life.

The company began through a partnership between Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and global IOT operator Sigfox. Sigfox today has presence in 60 countries and covers over 1 billion people with its global network, allowing Sigfox Ready devices to roam at no extra cost. The SqwidNet network currently covers over 90% of the South African population, enabling millions of physical devices to be connected to the digital world.

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