Greg Speakman, VP of Marketing of Sierra Wireless was one of the headline speakers at the British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) IMPACT event held today at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver. His talk centred on how Sierra Wireless has pulled ahead of their competition, and what he feels the future holds for his industry.
Speakman said the most important thing to keep your company competitive is customer focus. In the case of Sierra Wireless, their customers are other big companies, so Speakman said the key is to leverage what Sierra Wireless knows about the telecom ecosystem to make their partners competitive, which in turn makes them more competitive.
As for the future, “faster, smaller, and cooler looking” was his description of the future, and he hinted at more of a presence in the retail space.
John Livingston, CEO of Absolute Software, added to the discussion by pointing to the importance of having a product that goes from a “nice to have” to a “need to have.” As businesspeople, Livingston said, it’s important to look in the mirror and decide if your product is a “need to have,” and if it isn’t, to take it to that level.
Absolute’s initial product was a laptop security software agent which prevented theft. But while laptop theft was and is a problem, Livingston said it was impotant to build out from that capability and give commercial customers the ability to perform asset management. For example, a customer could automatically detect if virus protection is working or if unauthorized software had been placed somewhere on their network.
As the world becomes more mobile and remote work goes from a novelty to a new standard, Livingston said creating a value proposition that ensures security on corporate computers that are spread out and in variable environments becomes more and more important. Livingston added that the SaaS (Software as a Service) model will be more critical to security as time goes on, and Absolute will continue to leverage more services to provide additional value.
During the Q&A portion of the event, Speakman pointed out that the downward turn of the economy afforded Sierra Wireless the chance to focus on the immediate and the areas that most benefit their customers and to (at the moment) not focus as much on projects slated for further in the future.
Livingston also pointed to the move to mobile and the gradual shift to always-on cellular connectivity in laptops as a win for Absolute, since it allows the company to offer real-time services and creates a “whole new vertical.”
Speakman also pointed to cellular modems as a great upcoming opportunity, since only about five percent of current laptops are tied into cellular, but more and more will go that route in future. China and India are also growth areas for wireless, as is embedded systems and “machine-to-machine” connectivity.