IoT In Action: 5 Questions with Chris Baird, CEO, OptConnect

Q1: How would you describe the current state of IoT?

Sustainable chaotic expansion! There is a lot of cool stuff going on and it is all happening at the same time. We are seeing the convergence of opportunity and technology with an economy that can support sustainable innovation. Much of what the industry was trying to do with LPWAN is now also being attempted with NB-IoT. The solutions have merit, but they all assume that the end user knows more about the technologies than they usually do.

Q2: Tell me about OptConnect’s business model.

We are not in IoT, M2M, generic cellular connectivity or connecting widgets. We are in the business of making IoT friendly and comprehensive. We do this by providing connectivity that is fully managed. The end users that need IoT do not need to be proficient in IoT. There is a huge blue ocean of people that do not know what they do not know.


We have invested in learning how to make IoT much easier. Our customers did not have the competencies in house or got started and then became frustrated when the technology changed. The 3G to 4G transition has been hard, and we take away the worry. Unfortunately, IoT is not like buying an iPhone, but the iPhone experience changes the expectation for the industry. IoT should stand for ”In & Out Today!”

Q3: What are the most common questions that customers and partners ask?

We intersect with customers at a few inflection points. One is they have no idea what they are doing or do not know cellular. The next category is with those that know cellular but need help. The most interesting group are those from the cellular module world that know the technology, but do not understand that they no longer need a contract with a carrier or to build their own support organization. If they would just believe it, life would be easier. Can it really be that simple? Have you really simplified IoT to an OPEX model where I can plug it in and go? We are often asked where we were two years ago when the customer started a project. Most companies do not consider the operational aspect of IoT, and it is a huge part of any deployment. How are all these things going to be managed?

Q4: What is the dumbest thing that you have seen in the market lately?

We continue to see the capabilities of the technology being limited by the inability to create the right financial justification. The current cost of connectivity will simply not allow billions of devices to be deployed. We often see people excited to connect something without consideration of the long term operational or connectivity costs.

Q5: What does 2020 look like for the industry and for OptConnect?

I think that 2020 will be a bright year for IoT, but there is a big speed bump with the shift from 3G to LTE. Most cellular IoT connectivity is currently on 3G. There are exponential opportunities and potential distractions. For OptConnect, it is a big growth year while we lay the groundwork for even bigger scale. Our model is ironed out and proven with many, many devices and active customers. It is real “rubber meets the road” year for IoT. For us it is about execution. We recently launched an embedded managed modem architecture that condensed it into an intelligent module. Execution is everything!


copyright 2020

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