Harnessing the IOT

Businesses who embrace the IOT, and understand how it can help them to innovate will stay ahead of the pack, says Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Phoenix Distribution.

Johannesburg, 15 Sep 2015
Read time 2min 40sec

The Internet of things (IOT) is growing exponentially. Analysts predict that in five years, the IOT will grow to 26 billion devices, over and above tablets, computers and smartphones.

"The IOT will come hand in hand with a lot of disruption," says Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Phoenix Distribution. "Executives need to be prepared."

However, he says not all executives understand what it is they need to be ready for. "What are the 'things' in the IOT that we need to be ready for? There are all sorts of devices, from your household fridges, light bulbs, locking, baby monitors - all of which will be communicating with each other. They will have sensors and will be able to respond to and communicate with one another."

He says there is also a new range of IOT devices, many of which we haven't even thought of. "The possibilities are endless. We've seen smartwatches, but what about running shoes that measure distance and heart rate, earphones that connect to the internet to stream music, clothes with sensors - all of these things looking for presence, creating data streams around objects of all types."

As we see device capabilities increasing, and technology becoming more intuitive and sophisticated, the IOT will burgeon. "It will be hard to control and implement standards. We will see much disparateness, particularly initially, as there will be different mechanisms by which devices communicate."

He says that although standards will be developed and will evolve over time, different standards will need to be applied to different verticals. "Think medical devices such as insulin pumps, or pacemakers, for example. Think cars, and security systems. The more safety and security is needed, the more stringent standards will need to be."

According to him, on a personal level, the IOT will drive a new level of awareness, with behavioural prediction, health stats, social presence and similar. "For businesses, the changes will be more extreme. Device manufacturers of all types will be under pressure to make everything smart, and user friendly, and all this while trying to beat their competitors to market. In addition, these devices will all create new data sources, adding to the flood of big data which is already drowning organisations."

Campbell-Young says this will in turn drive questions of how this information can be used, and for what, and when, and how the data will help businesses to optimise their operations, communications and marketing behaviours.

"At the end of the day, harnessing the IOT effectively will mean competitive advantage, and executives need to learn this skill. Possibly the biggest challenge for executives will be the collection and analysis of this data, and then turning this into actionable business insights to gain an advantage."

Businesses who embrace the IOT, and understand how it can help them to innovate, explore new business opportunities, and harness customer knowledge will stay ahead of the pack, he concludes.

Phoenix Distribution

Phoenix Distribution is currently the leading value added distributor of software, accessories and peripherals across the African continent, covering software publishing, localisation and product distribution across multiple territories in multiple languages.

The business is segmented into two divisions, namely corporate software licensing and retail product distribution, and Phoenix Distribution dominates the consumer and SMB security sectors through key brands which include: Norton/Symantec, AVG, Kaspersky and Bitdefender. Additional brands within the consumer-focused range include, Microsoft software and peripherals, Beats by Dr Dre, Trendnet Wireless products, Monster Cables and mobile accessories.

The corporate licensing division sells volume licensing into the enterprise and SMB reseller environments, as well as covering architecture and implementation. The ESD division delivers download content into all channels, including B2B and B2C.

The retail division delivers physical product into the retail environment, covering all mainstream ICT, CES, telco, lifestyle, fashion and sports outlets, as well as independents and online stores. This division delivers direct to outlets and or customers across sub-Saharan Africa.

Phoenix Distribution is growing at 70% per annum, with additional acceleration coming from development within the greater African marketplace, as well as the acquisition of significant high-end product lines within the enterprise arena. In addition, the company's UK business, PX Security, is firmly entrenched within the UK retail and SMB reseller environments, shipping product through trusted distribution partners into mainstream retail outlets and direct engagement with B2B resellers. The UK operation publishes and distributes Bitdefender, Webroot and Avast.

Additional bespoke services offered to partners include Electronic Software Distribution within the B2B and B2C environments, category management, training and end-to-end merchandising.

Phoenix Distribution, including the UK subsidiary PX Security, was recently acquired by First Technology Holdings.

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