Having created the IoT Agency three years ago with a mission to help customers reduce the duration of their go-to-market cycles, Florian Splendido talks to Kurrant Talent about Sigfox’s plans to further support clients in streamlining project lifecycles.
You have been leading the Sigfox IoT Agency for over 3 years. Can you tell us what is the Agency’s role within Sigfox?
We have created the IoT Agency three years ago with a mission to help our customers reduce their IoT projects go-to-market from typically 2 to 3 to less than 12 months. Our 15 consultants located in different part of the world provide technical and business support throughout the project cycle. It includes clarifying the use case, defining data’s business value as well as defining the projects total costs and required investments. We also provide technical support with a focus on hardware design and integration that is in my opinion the most complex part in IoT solutions.
The IoT Agency is not meant to be a profit center but we charge for our services to cover costs and be sure of customer’s commitment to the project beyond proof of concept.
Another benefit of the work we do is to prevent potential issues due to hardware design problems, especially the design of the antenna, that can be perceived as a non-performance of Sigfox as a connectivity provider.
How do you evaluate the contribution of the IoT Agency to achieving Sigfox’s strategic goal?
A significant part of Sigfox’s successful projects are the ones where the IoT Agency has been involved as we are a strong accelerator of our customer’s business, leading to faster and increased revenue for the company. Initially the IoT Agency was focusing on supporting the French market. Since 2018, we are supporting customers globally in 65 countries, whether they reach out to us directly or through their local Sigfox Operator. This has led to increase the number of customers willing to accelerate their IoT projects because they know they can rely on the IoT Agency’s support.
Does the IoT Agency engage directly with customers or do you go through the local Sigfox Operators? How do you deal with global accounts? Does it make it more complicated for you to achieve your mission?
Sigfox provides IoT connectivity with its 0G network through direct deployment & operation such as in France, Germany, Spain and the US or in other countries via the Sigfox Operators with whom we set-up a revenue-sharing model. In this context, we try to be as pragmatic as possible while keeping end-customer satisfaction as the main priority. If the customer wants to package the support services together with the connectivity, we can have our Sigfox Operator sign the global deal and subcontract part of the services to the Agency. In the case the customer contacts directly Sigfox, he can contract directly with the IoT Agency for support and professional services. However, the customer would contract locally with the Sigfox Operator for connectivity services.
IoT technologies are addressing multiple pain points across various Industries. What are the most common use cases within Sigfox adopter? How do you see these use cases evolving across different geographies?
The sweet spot for Sigfox is clearly asset tracking, whether indoor or outdoor, commercial or industrial. The majority of large-scale deployment using Sigfox’s 0G projects, are addressing this use case which is perceived as having the highest maturity. Our “on the shelf solutions” can address most of the asset tracking use cases. Sigfox connectivity very low energy consumption connectivity enables asset tracking throughout its lifetime, hence offering longer amortization duration.
We are also targeting any other massive IoT use cases that involves millions of small, low cost battery-enabled devices, requiring long battery lifespan and deployed all over the world to collect specific data that once aggregated are key to support decision making.
We will soon announce at Sigfox Connect a new partnership in the Travel industry which will further illustrate our asset tracking strength.
How do you respond to Sigfox’s critics who say that it is a proprietary technology that will ultimately lose out to open standards such as LoRaWAN and NB-IoT?
I respond that it won’t happen: the technology is proprietary but the library and the license are free and part of the specifications were published. But having a proprietary technology allow us to constantly adjust and improve its performance in line with our customers’ needs and expectations. LoRa is actually not an open technology. In fact, if you want a LoRa chip set, you have to buy it to Semtech which is the only company able to sell a LoRa module. From our stand point, we are not competing with LoRa which is more known and used for local & intranet of things type of applications. NB-IoT targets at more bandwidth demanding use cases. In fact, the positioning of our technologies and use cases are very different.
What are the profiles of the people working in your team and what other profiles are you looking for?
At the IoT Agency we are basically looking for two different type of profiles. The business and financial experts that audit and analyze the customer’s use case in order to contribute to the design and development of the solution from a business ROI stand point. We also have technical guys, with strong hardware skills, especially on the electronics and antenna design part who will support the industrialization of the solution and its deployment. In fact, we also have IoT platform experts in order to integrate the device within an end to end solution.
What gets you out of bed and to work every morning? What would you name as your main Challenge for 2020?
I like to remind myself of this quote by Confucius: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life “. Two things get me out of bed every morning. First, the fact that there is no routine in our business because we interact with various projects and use cases, bringing value and learning from a variety of different customers. And second, the fact that IoT extensive capabilities and use cases offer the opportunity to be involved in meaningful environmental initiatives. Through the Sigfox Foundation, for instance, we are fighting against Rhinos’ extinction using low powered IoT sensors.
Our main challenge for 2020 is to continue reducing our solution delivery process to less than 6 months by developing generic solutions that will rapidly add value to each customized design and contribute to accelerate further our customers’ go-to-market.
You might also like: