News on Sunday

Sanjay Rajkoomar : “Mauritian organisations are still at the conceptual phase of IoT projects”

Sanjay Rajkoomar is the Director and Co-Founder of Navigation and Geocoding Technologies Ltd (Naveo), a company proposing an all-in-one platform that encompasses telematics solution, an Internet of Things (IoT) platform and a geographical information system (GIS) fully developed in Mauritius. He has extensive financial experience, having worked as group accountant and auditor in Mauritius, Africa and Europe. In this interview, he shares his views on the trend in technology, how businesses can attach new technologies to prosper in today’s challenging marketplace and how the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution will impact jobs in our country.

Trend in technology is moving very rapidly. How would you describe the level of concern among enterprises?
From our perspective, as an IT solution provider on the African market, we must say that our customers and this market in general are keen to keep themselves abreast with changes in technology happening in leading countries. As such they do ask us, technology providers, for advices about trends, risks and opportunities that they may have.

Also, thanks to internet based platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and the web in general, organisations and people all over the world keep themselves updated about the latest trends in technology as well as the impact of changes in industry/market.

Are the Mauritian enterprises ready to face the quick revolution in the technological field?
The level of readiness is not the same across organisations and is much dependant on the size and position of the enterprises. Larger organisations, with more resources and those who are in business with major international enterprises are, of course, more equipped to face technological changes and are constantly investing and striving to be at pace with their business counterparts. Unfortunately, smaller entities would be less prepared, as their priority and limited resources are mostly focused on ensuring short-term survival and financial results. 

How can businesses attach new technologies to prosper in today’s challenging marketplace?
To start with, Digital Marketing and e-commerce is a must today to have access to a larger global market, particularly for smaller countries like ours. Organisations may also build and expose organisational data on Cloud using well known web based channels to have a competitive advantage.

Businesses can also leverage on latest technology to reduce costs of operations and be more efficient by using IoT and AI, for example, to monitor, predict and optimise raw material consumption and other resources such as equipment and people. This will help to provide a better product/service to the customer and at an optimum price.

There will be changes in the job types and required skill sets as more and more manual work will be undertaken by robots, IoT and AI based tools."

Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is certainly ongoing. What is our status concerning IoT in Mauritius?
Whilst once again the answer differs from larger to smaller enterprises and from different sectors of the economy, in general I must say that we are still at the first steps in IoT adoption. We at Naveo are in the IoT business since 10 years now. Vehicle GPS devices are used by over 90% of large fleet companies in Mauritius and are quite widespread in smaller organisations, too. New trends in Telematics software, especially Mobile Apps, are also contributing nowadays to facilitate its use in much smaller businesses.

However, apart from Telematics (vehicle GPS devices), IoT now encompasses several other possibilities, such as automation of production plants and lines, sensors and plant automation in agriculture, automation of construction equipments, smart cities, automation and information sensors in hospitals, among others.

In these fields, Mauritian organisations, in public and private sector, are still at the conceptual phase of IOT projects. Amongst the sectors mentioned above, only Home automation and Smart cities projects have started using IOT, and that too on a more ad hoc than integrated basis. Coupled with AI and Cloud based data exploitation, IoT can definitely help Mauritian organisations to enhance the usage and maintenance of equipment and tools for a better productivity in several sectors and to optimize the use of energy and natural resources.

What will be the impact on jobs in our country?
Obviously there will be changes in the job types and required skill sets as more and more manual work will be undertaken by robots, IoT and AI based tools, especially in agriculture, manufacturing and the logistic sectors. This will in turn create more jobs requiring higher technical and technological skills. Re-training, skill recycling and a better nationwide skill requirement planning will be necessary to match the workforce with the demand. Those of us with more than 15-20 years of work experience will have to adopt change in profession along our work lifetime, as in countries such as Japan today. The good news is that it will lead to a shift to more jobs that appeal to the new generation workforce and that provide a better work life balance.

As technology is expected to eliminate some jobs but create new ones, how do the next generation jobs look like?
We can already see a change in types of jobs that new job seekers are looking for nowadays. Even in the traditional manual based sectors such as Agriculture, Textile, Tourism and other manufacturing industries, youngsters tend to seek for more technical (controllers and technicians more than machine operators), specialist (with pre-vocational training) or soft skill jobs (financial, administrative, customer service)

We must also be conscious and take advantage of new fields of businesses made possible by technology and innovation. Mauritius, being a small country, is increasingly becoming a service oriented working nation rather than a manufacturing hub. I believe that we, more than other bigger nations, are bound to learn and embrace new technologies in order to position ourselves in more sophisticated service industries, as we do not have a large population/workforce or large geographical areas to exploit.

This will imply that our workforce, young new entrants as well as those who need to recycle, go through technical trainings in a variety of technologies and skills. But more importantly, we should gear our education system to focus more on creativity, innovation and passion, as these will be the most prized qualities for jobs of the future, where manual and repetitive jobs will be dealt through automation and AI and where opportunities will be based mainly on innovative ideas and soft skills.

What do you think the future holds for IoT security?
Security is a legitimate concern with the widespread use of connected and automated devices.  Whilst its true to say that using more IoT devices do come with its security risks, it is good to know that the same IT security practices used in general can be applied to reduce these risks. Tools like firewalls, VLANs, password based protections etc, are helping to prevent hacking of IoT devices. Furthermore, reputable manufacturers of IoT devices do provide secure patching procedures and security vulnerability disclosures to assist in protecting devices from known threats. But above that, IoT developers and implementers are also mainly working to bolster the security of the entire ecosystem right from the creation stage. I will quote the internationally renowned security guru Bruce Schneier who perfectly explains this approach to security: “As with fighting terrorism, our goal isn’t to play whack-a-mole and stop a few particularly salient threats, but to design systems from the start that are less likely to be successfully attacked.”

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