Unlocking the potential of IOT
The number of Internet of things (IOT) devices is expected to reach more than 20 billion this year, up from the six billion in 2016. Even more telling, the potential economic impact of IOT is estimated to top $11 trillion annually by 2025. In this context, local companies must see IOT as a strategic priority in 2020.
“In this environment, IOT specialists such as Netshield South Africa have an increasingly important role to play. Even though the principles of IOT are the same anywhere in the world, local knowledge is essential to deliver added value. Service providers that are experienced in the vagaries of South African conditions, for example, our bandwidth challenges, can customise IOT offerings that are cognisant of them,” says Rentia Booysen, Collaboration and Networking Lead, Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa.
IOT solutions entail more than just sticking a sensor on a device and linking it to a cloud-based database. From sensor to gateway through to the dashboard, management and analysis, IOT requires a comprehensive approach that empowers companies to unlock the potential of edge computing.
It is forecast that the global edge computing market, an integral component of IOT, will grow from $1.47 billion in 2017 to $9 billion by 2024. For the uninitiated, edge computing brings computing and data storage closer to the location where it is needed to improve response times and save bandwidth.
“Think of it as taking the cloud and moving it to an IOT device. The additional computing power and storage offered by the edge will see companies benefit from greatly enhanced alerts and analytics so they can drill down into the data collected by their sensors and derive true business insights,” adds Booysen.
Of course, it is not just about the technology. IOT specialists rely on technically competent research and development teams that can design bespoke solutions for the unique requirements of customers irrespective of industry sector. For example, the Netshield range of sensors includes a host of industrial-ready solutions that can monitor environmental factors from fluids and chemicals through to fire and more.
But IOT and the edge are just elements of a larger ecosystem. A vital component, especially in the South African (and African) context, is power management and renewable energy solutions.
“Netshield has a range of environmental monitoring units that provide users and administrators with a complete view of their operating environments. This is coupled with management capabilities. And because the Netshield team is skilled in surge protection, access control, connectivity and self-contained and managed cabinets and accessories such as intelligent handles, it can provide the IT teams of clients with the control needed to more effectively manage their IOT devices,” adds Booysen.
However, companies cannot rely on human resources alone. Thanks to the likes of artificial intelligence and machine learning, automation has become a useful asset when it comes to IOT.
“Using this, customers looking to remotely manage infrastructure, sensitive equipment, energy and water distribution, or respond accurately to environmental threats such as fires and even flooding, can now do so at scale and across multiple sites with a Point of Presence Convergence gateway. When multiple instances of the devices are deployed, they can create a full view of events and even help ensure the even distribution of services such as power and water in a multi-site environment,” says Booysen.
By connecting IOT sensors for monitoring multiple applications that could potentially disrupt business such as power, temperature, humidity, flooding, access control, energy consumption and even security systems, the application and business case for these devices become limitless.
“Companies are no longer limited by the technology. Instead, they are driven by their own imagination to deploy IOT in ways that make sense for them. The power of automation that IOT sensors give them is staggering, especially when deployed at scale. Now is the time to embrace it,” ends Booysen.