Can SA catch the talent needed to drive IoT across business and the country, or is this plan thwarted before it starts thanks to staggering infrastructure, economic instability and the inward clench of tight pockets?
South Africa already produces a fair amount of its own talent, in IoT as well as ICT in general. In fact, many South African-born individuals have gone on to find or contribute to companies that are changing the world – many of which are global players. The problem, however, is creating environments conducive to retaining and/or attracting talent.
The problem doesn’t seem to be cost. Even in a receding economy, South Africa is still responsible for more than 60% of the entire continent’s ICT market. We’re at the forefront of several technology driven markets, not just in Africa but the world at large – business process outsourcing for example. Even Internet connectivity for much of Eastern Africa is driven right here in SA.
The receding economy may actually be an angel in disguise. The traditional response to a receding economy is cutting costs and conservatism. But technology, like IoT, cloud and Internet connectivity, can help business boost productivity and drastically enhance data and analytics, without significantly boosting costs. Any technology that helps businesses boost the bottom line without increasing costs in a recession, is sure to attract interest. This may be what SA’s technology leaders and start-ups need to drive interest and sales.
Expanding that to the rest of Africa is the next logical step, to help many of Africa’s ambitious but capital strapped companies and start-ups to thrive. That’s only going to attract talent back to the country.
Will any of the dreams of IoT hit the country in the near future?
If Gartner’s forecast is anything to go by, and we think it may even be a little conservative, there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices by 2020 – a market worth more $260 billion. It’s hard to believe South African companies, and even aspiring entrepreneurs, won’t want to be a part of that market. In fact, a few companies are already demonstrating the awesome power of IoT. It’s only a matter of time before others follow.
Have they already arrived?
Some companies have already taken the leap. With projects that have transformed nature sites into IoT-powered smart perimeters. Others are looking to transform our cities into smart cities, and our lives as a result.