Vodafone’s recently released M2M barometer report has revealed a rapid growth in ‘Internet of Things’ in South Africa and across the globe.|Vodafone’s recently released M2M barometer report has revealed a rapid growth in ‘Internet of Things’ in South Africa and across the globe.
Vodafone recently published its third annual Vodafone M2M Barometer Report – a global survey of the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) sector. The report reveals continued strong growth in the use of the technologies, networks and services that connect a wide variety of smart devices – from household products and cars to industrial applications – to the so-called ‘Internet of Things’.
The Vodafone M2M Barometer Report reveals that more than one-quarter of all companies worldwide are now using M2M, up from 12% when Vodafone first launched the report in 2013. In South Africa this number is even higher than the global average, with 35% of companies stating that they have implemented M2M projects and 26% are planning to implement within the next 12 months.
A significant majority of early adopters are already seeing clear business advantages from M2M deployment; 81% have expanded their use of M2M technologies over the last year. Overall awareness of M2M and the Internet of Things increased significantly during 2014-15; 76% of companies– both adopters and non-adopters – say they are familiar with the new technologies.
The fastest growth in rates of adoption – up 88% year on year – is in the retail sector where typical M2M applications include in-store digital signage, smart payment systems and supply chain optimisation. The M2M Barometer also found strong growth in the healthcare sector (up 47%) – where M2M is used for applications such as remote patient monitoring and patient record systems – and the utilities sector (up 32%), driven by the global expansion of smart metering systems to enhance energy efficiency. Meanwhile, the automotive industry continues to embed M2M as a core technology within the designs of new vehicles, with the accelerating production of so-called ‘connected cars’ being a major contributor towards a 14% year-on-year increase in M2M adoption in that sector.
Companies that have begun to adopt M2M technologies are already experiencing substantive benefits; 59% of early adopters reported a significant return on their investment in M2M, with a 28% year-on-year increase in the proportion of companies reporting a sizeable ROI impact. For 69% of South African businesses, the key factor prompting investments into M2M was the opportunity for innovation. While 73% of businesses in South Africa that have adopted M2M said they were using their solutions for automating processes.
The Vodafone M2M Barometer Report also found an increasing level of sophistication within many companies’ M2M applications including integration with cloud computing technologies and the advanced use of big data analytics. Companies that have invested in these services reported the greatest business impact; 69% of advanced M2M users said their companies had been fundamentally transformed by the Internet of Things.
Tony Smallwood, executive head of M2M and vertical industries at Vodacom Business said, “The Internet of Things is transforming more businesses faster than ever before. This is particularly true for South African businesses which are embracing M2M faster than our global counterparts. According to the research findings this is primarily driven by the opportunity M2M brings for innovation and the ability to automate processes.”
Analysys Mason Principal Analyst Michele Mackenzie said, “There are two really striking results in the Vodafone M2M Barometer Report for 2015. First, retail and healthcare stand out as sectors demonstrating considerable growth in adoption as an increasing proportion of companies transform themselves to compete more effectively in the digital economy. Second, there are some very interesting insights into the diverse measures used by companies to assess the value of M2M. There are compelling examples of cost savings; positive impacts on customer retention and the ability to unlock new revenue streams are also cited as tangible benefits that continue to drive investment in M2M.”
“By using the Vodafone M2M platform, we are able to provide point-of-sale communication in 12 countries in Africa,” adds Smallwood. “While the retail sector has been reaping the benefits of our M2M offering for some time now, we are seeing the interest in M2M technology is expanding into vertical areas such as energy and water solutions, asset management and security solutions.”
The survey – conducted by Circle Research covers countries across the globe looking into small and medium size enterprises for the first time, leading to an 80% increase in interview respondents.
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.