Activate Group and SqwidNet sign IoT partnership agreement

BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

Activate Group and SqwidNet sign IoT partnership agreement

Activate Group, an end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT), mobile solutions and IoT-as-a-service provider, has signed a partnership with SqwidNet, the licensed Sigfox IoT network operator in South Africa. Sigfox, a global IoT network, has established an ecosystem reaching 45 countries. Through SqwidNet, the network currently reaches 81% of the population in South Africa, with a target of reaching 85% by mid-2018.

The partnership will see Activate Group roll out 14 pilot projects in the retail and logistics vertical with an estimated roll out of more than 100 000 units on SqwidNet’s network by 2019.

“This is a significant milestone for us,” says Rodney Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at Activate Group. “We have seen significant interest in our IoT solutions in the market and through this partnership, we will be able to bring them to life. SqwidNet’s extensive coverage has given us the ability to reach clients in areas we were unable to before the partnership,” he says.

Gartner forecasts that the number of connected things will grow to nearly 21 billion by 2020 and International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the worldwide IoT market will grow to $1.7 trillion in the same year, representing a significant opportunity for every industry in the world.

“Partnering with Activate Group enables us to leverage on their capability and existing IoT platform solutions to further the digitalisation efforts that are underway in South Africa,” says Reshaad Sha, Chief Executive Officer at SqwidNet.

“While IoT has been a buzz word for a long time, we are seeing it come to life now, as our clients are now being able to take advantage of strategic IoT and mobile technologies that drive innovation, agility and creates new revenue opportunities while giving them a competitive edge,” says Taylor.

Budget constraints are often an inhibitor for mainstream IoT projects. “Our IoT-as-a-service solution offers flexible, affordable financing options that enable system integrators and end-user companies to adopt and implement those technology solutions that give them the competitive edge in business while optimising their cash flow and return on their technology investments,” he says.

About Activate Group

Activate Group helps African organisations unleash the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the latest wave of disruptive mobile technologies. As an end-to-end IoT and mobile solutions provider, we work with our clients to identify their needs and enable them to take advantage of strategic technologies that drive innovation, agility and a competitive edge.

Our solutions span industries as diverse as hospitality, logistics, financial services, and manufacturing. They are especially powerful and valuable to companies that have sizeable distributed workforces or customer basis, or large networks of brokers or independent agents.

Visit the stand E2 at IoT Forum Africa to see what Activate Group can do for your organisation.

For more information, please visit www.activategroup.co.za.


About SqwidNet

SqwidNet was launched in November 2016 as the Sigfox operator in SA.  It has successfully deployed a low-cost, low-power, ultra narrowband IoT network in South Africa. The company began through a partnership between Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and global IoT operator Sigfox. Sigfox today has presence in 45 countries through similar partnerships and covers over 800 million people with a Sigfox network. The SqwidNet network in South Africa currently covers 81% of the South African population and will cover 85% by mid 2018, enabling millions of physical devices to be connected to the digital world and bringing the IoT to life.

Visit the SqwidNet stand at IoT Forum Africa for more information.

For more information, please visit www.sqwidnet.com.


LaunchLab Ideas Programme calling all Entrepreneurs

BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

Calling all entrepreneurs to pitch their innovative ideas in the LaunchLab Ideas Programme – winning ideas stand the chance to win incubation support worth R50 000 and access to our clients!

The Stellenbosch University LaunchLab has officially launched the 7th Ideas programme following 6 successful programmes to date!

LaunchLab’s mission is to facilitate valuable connections for startups and corporates, as well as other relevant business partners to help those startups excel. The Ideas Programme is intended primarily to be for very early-stage businesses looking to validate their concepts or improve their technology offering to their market.

LaunchLab provides access to our client network who are actively looking for startups to partner with, which aids in the validation process.

LaunchLab is looking for startup business ideas in multiple industries, including but not limited to:

  • Education: we are pleased to be helping Stellenbosch University to identify innovative edutech solutions that can help contribute to new models of education to empower students to create jobs and add value to broader society.
  • Smart Cities: the cities of the future need smart solutions and our clients want your help developing these solutions.
  • Cleantech: the world is on a drive to sustainability and South Africa is no different. Submit your ideas to help South Africa harness its natural resources better and recycle what we have already used.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): connected devices means more information to make our lives easier and more efficient. Help our clients with your IoT concepts that can transform their supply chains and make customers’ lives better.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): pitch how you think AI will impact our world with your exciting concept. Calling all engineers and data scientists to wow our clients.
  • Advanced Manufacturing: this is another opportunity for engineers and data scientists to make an impact on this important sector in South Africa. Strong candidates and concepts will have access to opportunities with our corporate clients.
  • Safety: help us make South Africans safer with your innovative concept.
  • Blockchain: Each industry that mainly acts as a middleman between producers and customers of immaterial or digital goods and services is vulnerable to being replaced by a peer-to-peer system supported by the Blockchain. Tell us how you will do this.
  • Fintech:we are looking for disruptive technologies in the financial services industry that can transform the way we interact with money.
  • Insurtech: pitch your ideas of what the future of insurance will look like.
  • Agritech and Food Innovations:LaunchLab has already been the birthing ground for some exciting food and agritech innovations. Will your concept be the next one?
  • Social Enterprises:do you have a business idea which can have a big impact and benefit those that need it most but still be a viable business? Take advantage of this opportunity to pitch it.

This programme helps new concepts and potential businesses validate their concepts with real market players and starts their journey towards the maturity required to acquire customers and obtain investment.

These are the highlights of the impact of our programme is South Africa in 2017:

  • 24 selected for our incubation programme
  • 10 pilots being pursued with LaunchLab clients
  • 4 invested in directly by LaunchLab clients
  • R1.18 million in total prize money paid across all programmes

“The wide range of industry focus areas this year means that you will find a place for your innovative business idea. This is a great opportunity to accelerate that business idea towards market readiness. The impact that engaging with our corporate clients offers cannot be underestimated. We find that startups that engage with our clients can accelerate their growth faster than startups following the traditional route to market because the client does not only help provide finance for the startup but access to market as well.” says Philip Marais, LaunchLab CEO.

Submission requirements:

Submit a 3-minute video (cell phone footage can be submitted too) of yourself explaining your business idea with your entry form which can be found on the LaunchLab website: https://www.launchlab.co.za/ideas2018

Submissions opened on 19 March, and the deadline for online submission entries is 4 May 2018. The top ten finalists will be notified by the end of May. Pitches will be shortlisted and be taken through a process to determine which 10-15 businesses we will take into our incubation programme, to develop towards engaging with our clients.

LaunchLab’s terms and conditions apply, and are available to download here:  https://launchlab.co.za/innovationchallenges/competition-terms-conditions/


From the frontier:Predictions for how tech will shape the world in 2018

BY Fast Company 4 MINUTE READ

A lot can happen in a year. And when that year is 2018, a year in which we stand on the threshold of an exponential future driven by technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, IoT and blockchain, the world may look very different by the end of it than it does now.

It is often productive to take some time in the early part of a year to consider (and imagine) what the next 10-12 months will hold. At the very least it affords us an opportunity to dream big and consider the implications of new trends, products, and services, as well as their underlying technologies. At best, we gain invaluable insight into how these technology trends will affect, improve or disrupt our businesses, our work and our personal lives, and help us reach previously unattainable goals, progress, (and even distant planets!)

Here are my (and my colleagues’) top technology predictions for 2018:

  1. In aerospace, the commercial airplane industry will see cool, new products and innovations. We’ll see the first legitimate applications of large-scale autonomous air taxis and hypersonic aircraft. In space, the journey to Mars is closer than we think. Our own Head of Innovation, Adriana Marais, is even shortlisted to be one of the first humans to undertake a manned mission to the Red Planet. 2018 is set to re-ignite our imaginations around space travel.
  2. In the manufacturing arena we will see the use of 3D Printing (or additive manufacturing) and robotics accelerating as companies position themselves to be more responsive, less wasteful and more competitive in a global context.
  3. Across Africa we will see agricultural value chains embracing technology as both government and private sector organisations work towards food security for Africa’s exploding population in the face of climate change, water shortages and land degradation. Technologies will be used to help both small and large-scale farmers achieve better outcomes with less impact on the environment and less wastage in the supply chain
  4. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will become mainstream in business in 2018. You can break it down into three categories:

A)     Advanced analytics and big data plays, where the aggregation of data will enable fresh and deep insights and       allow the creation of new business models,

B)    Business process automation, where we’ll see a high degree of back-end business processing being done by algorithms, freeing up human resources to be more productive and creative, and

C)    Customer experience, where we’ll see more intelligent and personalised layers between humans and systems, like voice navigation and human-like virtual assistants.

5. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, and blockchain will also enable new        business models and create new markets driven by start-ups and agile corporates that can embrace these     trends and understand the potential value propositions that can come out of it.

6.On the workplace culture side, we’re going to see a significant refocus on cultural aspects of organisations, specifically how company culture and its practices support the needs and well-being of the organisation. Companies are realising that if they don’t have the culture and the practices to support a healthy, productive environment for their workers, they’re not going reach their goals.

7.Design will assume a heightened eminence as companies, with equal and easy access to the latest technology platforms seek ways to establish a competitive edge in the way they apply technology to unforeseen problems and opportunities.

8.One of the biggest stories in 2018 will be cybersecurity. The explosion in software, technology, and connected devices open many new threat vectors, at the same time that the regulatory environment is becoming significantly tougher.  Security systems must keep pace in the same fashion. We desperately need to get those protocols and security measures in place.

9.Today there is a “land grab” happening in the IoT space as vendors, large and small, jostle for leadership. SAP’s global IoT evangelist Tom Raftery predicts that the IoT cloud platform market is going to consolidate quickly. “The IoT hype is going to finish and we’re going to move into possibly a ‘trough of disillusionment’ – as Gartner calls it – that precedes mainstream adoption. IoT architecture will evolve from data ingestion and analytics (the “thing to dashboard” paradigm) to an intelligent event-driven solution for end users. Digital twins will evolve from concepts to implementation providing new simulation and decision-making capabilities within and across companies.”

10.Cameron Beveridge, SAP’s local cloud lead, predicts that we’re going to see companies reassess their strategic technical plan – possibly even stopping some of the roadmaps and re-evaluating options for the cloud, as well as moving forward with ERP transformations and improving total cost of operations by streamlining business processes and technical architecture. “There will be quite a bit around end-to-end transformation and being more innovative and proactive in business processes.”

By Simon Carpenter, Chief Technology Advisor at SAP Africa

For more information, visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

 About SAP

 As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 345,000 business and public sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com.


 About Simon Carpenter, Chief Technology Advisor SAP Africa:

Simon has 33 years of wide-ranging experience in the IT sector. The last 21 years have been with marketleader SAP’s African business where he has held a number of leadership positions.

Simon is currently the Chief Technology Advisor (CTA) ensuring that:

  • SAP technology vision and strategy is fully evangelized
  • SAP is seen as a thought leader in the digital economy
  • Customers and partners understand and adopt SAP solutions leveraging latest SAP recommended technology strategy
  • Customers consistently get high quality SAP resources for their innovation, technology strategy and roadmap creation
  • SAP has a robust pipeline of innovation opportunities.

Simon has worked predominantly in the area of operations and logistics solutions ranging from on-board computing in transport; to large-scale enterprise systems. He has broad experience having worked in sales, marketing, support management, project management, and consulting and systems development. He thus has good insight into the soft issues (such as change management) that must be addressed for any technological initiative to be successful.

Simon has spoken at numerous local and international conferences and Universities on a wide range of topics and is a previous Best Speaker award winner at the SAPICS conference.


Stormy seas ahead for brands who ignore tech

BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

The ship has sailed on silo-driven batch-and-blast email and vomit-and-hope SMS campaigns. Today’s attention- and time-deprived consumer expects personalised communication built on seamless digital experiences that offer relevant, timely forms of value.

Recent advances in integrated omnichannel orchestration, enterprise-class automation, and advanced behavioural analytics provide practical cloud-based building-blocks for South African businesses and brands to increase engagement across the customer lifecycle.

But brands will have a tough time navigating the stormy waters of falling consumer confidence and low levels of economic growth unless they reach the promised land of integrated omnichannel marketing experiences delivered to their customers in highly personalised ways.

Today, brands can deploy a fleet of omnichannel experiences that combine to create compelling calls-to-action that drive sales, loyalty, and repeat purchases. Despite the use of modern marketing automation platforms linked to an omnichannel strategy emerging as the clearest way marketing departments can prove their value to the business, many marketers still find themselves all at sea.

A 2017 survey found that only 21% of marketers could measure their contribution to their organisations’ revenue, perhaps partly because 80% of those surveyed admitted to using Excel as a tool for tracking their impact on the business.

The Maiden Voyage of HMS Personalisation

According to McKinsey, personalisation can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%, lift revenues by 5%-15%, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10%-30%. Marketing ‘captains’ wishing to embark on a voyage of personalisation should prioritise the capture and analysis of behavioural data, the foundation of personalised marketing communication.

By grouping customers with similar interest together marketers can start understanding the journey of their customers from consideration to acquisition to (ideally) repeat purchases. Behavioural data can stem from internal sources – such as website visits or in-store purchases – to external sources such as social media activity, geolocation, and more. These data sets inform how marketers should tailor the nature, timing and delivery of personalised touch points to individual customers.

Effective navigation of the complex sea of consumer expectations also requires respect for the two-way nature of modern marketing communications. Customers who invest time and energy into visible activities – such as posting on social media, browsing online, or purchasing in-store – should be treated with an appropriate marketing response, which ideally takes the form of a personalised value experience delivered via the right channel at the right time.

It’s critical that they get it right: according to IBM, nearly three-quarters of online consumers become frustrated with content or promotional offers that have little to no relevance to them.

On the Shores of the Promised Land

How are brands faring on their journey to the promised land of personalised omnichannel communications? In one global study, 60% of respondents highlighted their struggles with personalising content in real time, despite more than three-quarters saying real-time personalisation is crucial to their success. The reasons? Half noted that complexity of systems stunted their efforts, while access to real-time data was listed by 46% as the reason for not implementing dynamic personalised content across channels.

Marketing automation platforms that have an element of AI could greatly assist, for example by helping dynamic segment creation. With the lines between sales and marketing blurring further this year, the use of marketing automation tools that can self-optimise could prove the difference between success and failure in 2018.

What’s more, modern cloud-based marketing automation platforms can start leveraging predictive consumer engagement to discover invaluable insights into how and why consumers engage with certain marketing messages or channels and help prepare personalised communications built on these insights to drive engagement, sales, and loyalty.

It’s a brave new world for marketers in 2018. Despite some stormy seas and occasional headwinds, the voyage toward truly integrated and personalised omnichannel marketing communications is well underway. Where are you on your journey?

By Nick Orton, CEO at Grapevine


Zeroth Energy School Competition

BY Fast Company < 1 MINUTE READ

We have officially launched our highly anticipated School Competition.

Open to all kids from Grade 1 -12 and all they have to do is tell us in their own creative way “HOW COOL SOLAR IS.” The pupil who is the winner will win a trip for them and their family anywhere in the world valued at R 100,000. And the school the pupil is from will win a year of free Solar Energy for 2019.

Share this with your kids to join in and share with school’s you know and share with Teachers. This will be the biggest competition of the year. If your company wants to be part of this competition in any way let me know, the more partners we have the bigger we can make this competition. and the more we can help save schools money by going solar and the more we can help our kids understand Renewable Energy and give them careers that never existed.