The spread of the Internet of Things has gathered pace as deployments globally have become larger for early-adopter industries and verticals. Both governments and industry have become bolder in exploring the possibilities. Big data analytics – often used for predictive applications – is a cornerstone of most large-scale deployments. South Africa had an early start with IoT, but its experience has been limited mainly to security and vehicle tracking. However, signs show that industry and government are beginning to realize the potential, and there are emerging indicators of larger deployments, especially in smarter buildings, healthcare, and manufacturing.
South Africa moves forward with IoT
Ovum believes the slow pace of uptake of IoT in South Africa will pick up gradually as some of the early success stories inspire more enterprises and government agencies to take the plunge. There has been increased momentum in smart building/spaces as property owners believe in the sustainability benefits (in a country with serious energy/power challenges) as well as the ability to charge a premium to tenants. South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and many of its stadiums were "smart" with analytics in play, taking fan interaction as well as advertising by retailers and sponsors to another level. Retailers are also using video analytics of foot traffic to get a better understanding of their customers to improve the in-store experience. Another vertical that has shown promise is healthcare, with asset tracking that allows physicians to provide better care.
Ovum also believes that huge opportunities exist in smart city deployments in South Africa given the challenges of security, traffic, public transportation, and sanitation in large parts of the country. IoT providers view new local governments elected in major cities such as Pretoria, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town as an opportunity for new thinking and IoT plans.
Some of the missing pieces include the lack of thought leadership and the absence of global industry leaders making a big play in South Africa. However, this is slowly changing; leading service providers in South Africa, including systems integrators such as Dimension Data, have increased their investments in this area, including extending their ecosystem of partners and resources dedicated to IoT. This all bodes well for further advancement of IoT in South Africa. The advent of low-power wireless access technologies may give a boost to IoT deployment plans, since these technologies support devices that are low cost and have a long battery life, enabling more and different types of use cases, especially around utilities and metering, smart building, and home.
"AT&T Summit 2016: IoT strategy goes multi-network, secure, and vertical," TE0019-000022 (November 2016)
Adrian Dominic Ho, Principal Analyst, Large Enterprise Services