In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, floLive’s President of North America Curtis Govan joins us to talk about what we can expect from global IoT connectivity and its increasing adoption. Curtis also shares some notable 5G use cases and gives some advice on which enterprises should consider a mobile private network for their IoT implementations
We also dive into how floLive assesses the connectivity needs of their customers and how companies can better approach finding the most appropriate connectivity for their solutions. Finally, Curtis shares insights from the Global IoT Connectivity survey they did with James Brehm and Associates, and finishes up by sharing his advice for companies on IoT success.
Curtis Govan serves as floLIVE’s President, North America. He is an accomplished leader with 25+ years of broad experience and expertise in technology leadership, business development and sales. He was most recently the GM/Global VP Dealer and Heavy Equipment for Uptake, an industry leader in industrial artificial intelligence and IoT. Prior to joining Uptake, Curtis spent almost 12 years with Cisco Jasper where he held several roles with the most recent being Head of Global Sales Business Development and Regional Managing Director – Canada.
Interested in connecting with Curtis? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About COMPANY: floLIVE offers advanced 5G network solutions and a full suite of global cellular connectivity services for IoT use cases. We’re disrupting traditional networks and IoT solutions, and getting IoT up and running faster, more flexibly, and with more control. The platform comprises local core networks that provide local connectivity while being centrally managed and controlled over the cloud. This unique approach enables enterprises, mobile operators, and service providers to benefit from high performance, secure, and regulatory-compliant local connectivity on a global scale with all the flexibility and elasticity of a cloud-native platform.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:13) Intro to Curtis
(04:42) Intro to floLIVE
(09:48) floLIVE use cases
(18:09) How do you assess the connectivity needs of a customer? How should they be approaching connectivity for their solutions or implementations?
(21:46) Can you share some of the results of the Global IoT connectivity survey you conducted with James Brehm & Associates?
(28:11) How do you position yourselves to take advantage of IoT adoption across different industries? Do you have any advice for companies looking to implement IoT for their specific business?
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– [Ryan] Hello, everyone. And welcome to another episode of the IoT For All podcast on the IoT For All Media Network. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon, one of the co-creators of IoT For All. Now, before we jump into this episode, please, don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform, or join our newsletter at iotforall.com/newsletter, to catch all the newest episodes as soon as they come out. One of the last thing that I wanted to mention, before we jump into the episode, is that our wonderful partners, CalChip Connect are excited to be leading the way in the IoT space, helping to drive digital transformation and decentralized open source wireless technology. The decentralized network is a community managed network offering public wireless services to IoT developers and consumers in exchange for valuable cryptocurrency. This new wave of connectivity is growing at an explosive rate. Early adopters are exploring new ways to utilize the internet. It’s time to move away from the aging infrastructure and embrace a peer to peer model. Decentralized wireless has momentum and is here to stay. Please check out calchipconnect.com. That’s C-A-L-C-H-I-P-C-O-N-N-E-C-T .com. Welcome, Curtis, to the IoT For All show. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Curtis] Thank you, Ryan. Thank you. Good to be here.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I’m excited about this conversation. I wanted to start off by having you just give a quick introduction to our audience. Maybe talk a little bit more about your background, experience, how you ended up at floLIVE, that kind of thing.
– [Curtis] Yeah, certainly do that. Yeah. Curtis Govan, I’m President of Americas for floLIVE. Joined the company back in February of last year, so just before the pandemic. And prior to that, I spent almost 12 years with Jasper, which was acquired by Cisco in 2016. So I was previously running the Americas for Jasper also did some global business development for them as well, for some new products, and had a little bit of a brief stamp with another company in between Jasper and floLIVE. I was taking some time off, relaxing after a pretty long stint there with Jasper and found floLIVE. Had actually one of the guys who joined me here at floLIVE, Bill Wark. He and I had kind of monthly lunch sessions talking about how we could work together, and he said, Man, this company, floLIVE, they’re looking for somebody to run the Americas for them, IoT company. I’ll tell you, I had been in the business a while, seen a lot of companies and was not very optimistic that I’d find something new and interesting, but had some conversations with the recruiter, talked to Nir, talked to Boaz, our chairman. And I was like, Man, this is actually sounds too good to be true. So I wanted to see and feel and meet people in person. I got a chance to move, go over to Israel and meet with all of the leadership team there and met with our investors, at the time, and the technologists and see the technology as well. And, man, I was extremely impressed with the breadth and depth of technology we have that floLIVE and it’s like, man, I think this is definitely a place that I want to be a part of. And then beyond that, that we have still great opportunity to go and do something really special in the market. So yeah, it’s been a good journey, last year and a half, as you know, with COVID, has flown by, but we’ve had a lot of good progress over on the way over the time there. And so far it’s been a tremendous experience. As I said, it’s a great team to be a part of.
– [Ryan] Fantastic.
– [Curtis] Products are super solid and we’ve grown a customer base, slowly, but surely.
– [Ryan] And you all just raised a round of funding, correct?
– [Curtis] We did. Yeah, I mean, when I started, we had, just shortly after I started, we had completed a round with Dell and Qualcomm is kinda the lead names there, but we also have 83North, which is the former Graylock company and save in ventures. And then, yeah, just last month, we added Intel capital and really glad to have them as a partner with us there. We were already engaged with the Intel team, looking at ways that we can help them and certainly ways that they can help us as well. So it’s good to have those venture capitalist investors that not only are investing, you know, financially, but they have business outcomes that you can partner with them on. So yeah, we’re looking forward to working with them.
– [Ryan] That’s fantastic. So let’s dive in a little bit more to floLIVE and kind of what you all do. We’ve talked, obviously, about your background, which is very interesting and it’s great that things are going well over there, but I think our audience would love to hear a little bit more about what floLIVE does, the role you all play in IoT, and all that kind of stuff.
– [Curtis] I mentioned earlier that we have, you know, a depth and breadth of technology that really is not matched in the industry. What we do, overall, we’re an IoT global connectivity and connectivity infrastructure company. And that’s pretty broad because, as I said, we have a broad amount of technology. You know, we have offices around the world. Our customers include mobile network operators, MVNOs, IoT service providers, OEMs, like Dell, that’s one of our investors and customers. We have enterprise customers as well. From a solution perspective, we provide a real-time connectivity and device management platform. We also have a fully virtualized core network that will soon have 5G included with that, generally available in Q4. We have a patented smart SIM and we have a full stack BSS.
– [Ryan] Okay.
– [Curtis] All of this technology, we own ourselves and we built it from the ground up. So, you know, it’s 100% floLIVE technology, which is an important part, because it allows us to deliver a fully integrated and optimized solution where all of the components are built to work together. So that gets us to the goal of, What do we do for that customer base? I mean, ultimately it’s about helping our customers deliver a highly available, high performing, localized global connectivity, basically in every country and territory in the world. So, a lot of power there.
– [Ryan] Wow.
– [Curtis] And then also, you know, I’ll note, because it’s really important as you’re looking at different solutions to compare with, is that owning the technology, all of the technology that we have also gives us really unprecedented control over costs. We own it all. We can consolidate costs into one cost for our customers there. So we develop a solution there that is very effective for them, in terms of meeting the costs and demands of the existing solutions that are required for IMT.
– [Ryan] So let me ask you this, when our audience are listening to this, I’m sure they’re asking kind of, aside from what you just mentioned, kind of controlling it all, being able to put into one cost, what are some of the other advantages or differentiators with floLIVE as compared to the other connectivity, you know, the global connectivity companies out there, or the companies that at least say they’re global to try to drive business. So what’s kind of an advantage or that difference with floLIVE that, so just kind of, separates you guys out in the market?
– [Curtis] Yeah, I would first go with coverage and, you know, I will say, you know, not all coverage is equal. Sometimes you have coverage, but you don’t have coverage with performance. Not only are we able to provide global coverage, we’re localizing coverage there with the same type of experience that you’d have anywhere in the world. Because we own the core network, we deploy our core network around the world. So that that coverage also is localized, right? So you have packet gateways all over the world. So data is not only secure and meeting regulatory requirements like GDPR, it’s also NAT optimized to provide the lowest latency and the highest throughput, with that coverage. That’s one of the key differences there. I’d also point out about our SIM technology there. Certainly key requirement for customers that are deploying globally, is to simplify logistics there by having one SIM SKU. Not only do we have one SIM SKU that has the ability to connect to multiple operator profiles around the world, we do that with a multiMC technology that we built and developed, so that it’s more cost efficient and actually a more robust solution as well. The added, the cost perspective is it’s all of our technology, so we don’t have an additional RSP that we need. We certainly can compliment it with an RSP or remote SIM provisioning solution there for UICC. We can do that, but we don’t have to do that. So we removed those costs. And then the other piece there is a simple, the SIM cost is the same UICC SIM that customers are accustomed to using now. And also if they need to move and change profiles, download profiles, all of that comes at no additional costs as well. So if you look at it overall, it’s about not just providing coverage, but you have coverage that is at a higher performance there, and then also at a lower cost as well.
– [Ryan] Right. Fantastic. So let’s dive in a little bit more to some of the use cases you’ll have going on. I think that’s usually a pretty exciting thing for our audience to hear about, is how is your technology being used out there in the world, with customers that you feel comfortable talking about? Just to kind of bring it full circle and to share some real life examples of kind of your offering in use.
– [Curtis] Yeah, for sure. I’d love to do that. I’ll start off with saying, you know, the use cases are as broad as any IoT group of use cases there. We see everything from the traditional asset tracking, to people doing really unique things with solar energy, with vehicle tracking, with autonomous vehicles, you know, the use cases are pretty expansive. Even dash cams and other solutions there. So it’s pretty expansive in terms of the number of use cases we have in the platform and in overall. But just maybe to zero in on a few that I think are a little bit more interesting, because they point out some of the key requirements in the industry, overall. And then they also point out some, obviously some of the value that we bring to our customers. First, and, you know, my apologies, I won’t share particular names of customers here.
– [Ryan] Totally fine, totally fine.
– [Curtis] But certainly share the use case details. The first one I’d highlight is our smart label for logistics in coaching management. If you look at the challenge that this customer had is they were looking to provide a efficient pallet tracking system that’s global in nature. It needs to have permanent roaming wherever it goes over in the world, and because it only has a 12 month life cycle, needed to have really high battery efficiency, which means that the latency and data communication efficiency have to be very low and attune with that battery lifespan. And obviously, you know, it comes with a low cost, because you basically have something that, you know, just so that the technology, what they’re using it for is at a low cost, but also it’s a throwaway device. After the 12 month timeframe, it gets thrown away. So that customer developed a disposable label and that label has a with it, in terms of the technology, it’s got a NB-IoT, Cat M, and GPS modem, and peripheral sensors, as well as the battery that lasts for 12 months. From the floLIVE perspective, kind of starting at the top, the single SIM SKU that provides that local coverage globally is a key piece there. Because the costs are low, having that SIM, that’s a UICC based SIM, versus a UICC, what’s important to keep the costs low as well there. And then that localized global coverage where coordinate quotes are close by to reduce that latency, improve the data efficiency. That piece is what we provided as a native thing to floLIVE. And then the last piece that, you know, is really pervasive around the industry and that is aligning with the new business model. So in this case, they’ve got a 12 month time, that’s what they have. They know what their costs are. They know what their revenue is over that 12 month time. So we developed a business model that was a one-time fee for connectivity, and SIM, all bundled together. So that to aligned with what their commercial model is as well. So that’s our smart label solution there. That, when we said, that customer is often deploying globally there and having some good success with that solution there. The other use case I’ll talk about is in the solar energy space. And this one obviously is we were seeing it a another kind of, if you look at different verticals or solution areas for IoT, solar energy is obviously having a pretty exponential growth as well, and, you know, different models for residential, commercial, industrial, as well as utilities. But really the use case that we’re focused on is really that residential and commercial part of the business there, where they’re monitoring the generation of the energy and also the use of that energy, so they can turn around and have a better understanding of what that generation efficiency is over the course of time. It also has usage profiles for the systems that are connected to it, whether they’re be appliances for residential, or it’s different systems for industrial commercial usage, they’re monitoring the usage of those systems there. How much power is being generated, when it’s being generated, and how. So they get all of that data in, and, for them, it becomes you know that, How do I improve the overall uptime of appliances that are connected? And this is the interesting part that goes into the predictive analysis and maintenance of systems there, where they can actually tell if a device that’s connected to the solar system, if it has an increase in power usage, what’s that reason behind it? And sometimes that’s a failure of a component, so they can send out someone for a repair for that, so you increase the uptime of that system that’s actually connected to it, as well as increasing the uptime and the performance of the actual solar panels that are getting used. So very interesting use case there. Other key things for the solar energy piece that are critical requirements there, network longevity is very crucial for them. These solutions have a lifetime of, or lifespan I should say, of 25 to 30 years. So they need business continuity and they need to ensure that that network is going to be available. Now, one of the things, obviously 25 to 30 years, no one can really predict how long any technology network technology is going to be available. So part of what’s happening with that industry is they’re making devices that are easily replaceable or more easily replaceable in the field. And that’s part of it, but still they want to have those devices out as long as possible there, and have that business continuity assurance that if something happens with one network relationship for a company like us at floLIVE, the device is able to automatically switch over. And then the other piece, going back to the business model that they need is, today, they sell on a CAPEX and along with that, they have a monthly recurring for the data connectivity, but these devices are very predictable in terms of the data consumption. So the other piece that we’re looking for, in the near future for them, is to move over to that very similar model as a smart label is. I know these are going to be out in the field for 10 years, 25 years. Here’s a single cost that they’re giving their customer. And likewise, they want to match that model, on the connectivity side, Which is very interesting, because for a connectivity provider to offer a service for 10 years for more than one year is very unusual. I don’t know that anybody has done that, but you’re matching that kind of model as well. So aligning with that business model, again, the single SIM SKU, so that you’re assured that you can just put one SIM in, deploy that solar panel anywhere in the world, it will optimize its connection. So it connects not only to a good network, but to the best performing network as well. And then, you know, same story with, you know, the latency piece there that is always a part of our solution as well.
– [Ryan] Fantastic.
– [Curtis] So those are, you know, some of our 4G LTE on use cases that are looking really promising for us and customers are having success deploying those solutions.
– [Ryan] That’s great. Thanks for sharing that. That’s wonderful information to kind of give some context to what you all are involved in. I wanted to ask you, kind of as a follow-up, when you kind of speak with companies, how do you kind of help them decide the right connectivity approach? You know, and what I’m getting at is, you know, as 5G is now coming out, we’ve had lots of discussions around private networks with 5G and things like that. So, when you work with companies, how should a company kind of be approaching the thought process on the types of connectivity it needs. You know, does it need a mobile private network? Does it need a global private network? You know, what does it exactly need for its individual use case? And how do you kind of assess those opportunities to make sure that the connectivity is the right fit for the individual use case?
– [Curtis] Yeah, that’s a really good question. And it really, it connects with what we do and how, you know, I do like to run our business here. And we really see ourselves as a solution provider, right? So we’re not selling something that you don’t need unless it is, and we’re not selling it unless it is a solution to a problem that you have. So the first thing, you know, we take is a consultative approach and we have an operations review with all of our prospective customers. Once we get to the point where, you know, we’ve mutually agreed to work together, we want to understand their business from beginning to end. You know, even if it’s outside of, you know, connectivity, we want to understand that part of the business, ’cause you never know how the two connect or if there’s a partner that we have in the ecosystem that can help them in that area. So we first start with that assessment to really understand what they need. A good example, recently, a customer that was looking for a national connectivity play there, but the reality is if after we looked at it is that they really needed a private network.
– [Ryan] Okay.
– [Curtis] It was going to be a much more cost efficient solution for them, also from a performance perspective, because they needed to consume a lot of data for their devices. The performance was going to be necessary, ’cause you don’t want to, you know, if you want to do updates to thousands of devices that require gigs and gigs of data, at a particular time, you don’t want it to be beholding to the public network where, you know, you’re sharing the bandwidth there. So we ended up actually moving them to a solution there that requires a private network that we’re building out for them, which is a great use case. This is a private network that actually allows these devices to go over to public as well. So when they’re at a particular location, they’re on the private network, they do their downloads, updates overnight, and then when they go back in the field, the following day, they transition seamlessly, using our SIM technology to a public network. So it’s a use of our core network functionality there, where we own the full stack of the three TPP core network, as well as our public network, where we have relationships with MNOs, that allow them to seamlessly move in between. And of course our SIM technology is a part of that, as the orchestration, to know that I’m in public network, now let me move to this profile. When I move off of the public network it automatically moves to a private network.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. That’s a great kind of insights there. I know we’ve had a lot of conversations around 5G and kind of the private network side and just the general approach to selecting the correct kind of connectivity for a use case. So I appreciate you kind of sharing those with us. One thing I wanted to ask you, as we’re kind of getting close to wrapping up here, is I know you all did a survey with James Brehm, correct? And it was around kind of the route of global IoT connectivity. And I’d love it if you could share some insights from that survey and kind of what the overall goal was. What you’re looking to find out. And then, at the same time, what did you find out?
– [Curtis] Yeah. Yeah, it was a really good survey, we did earlier this year with James Brehm and associates. And what we did is we asked a series of questions around IoT needs, and we did that for both enterprise customers in users, as well as IoT service providers, mobile network operators, MVNO. So we had a mix of respondents here and really some of the things that we heard back were beneficial to reiterate what we’re doing as a company, and then also some good insights into what areas we want to focus on. If we look at some of the key takeaways there, we look at just the enterprise perspective, as well as the MNO. They’re seeing some deficiencies in their connectivity management platform. Solutions that are either from a cost perspective, don’t meet the demands that you have today. A good example of that is cost not being aligned with LPWAN revenue. That’s really low when you have a device that may use a meg of data per year. The costs on that, revenue on that is pretty low, but the cost of the platforms that they have today are not low enough to meet that. The other piece is that several of them replied that they have either two, minimum of two, and more than likely up to four or five different connectivity management platforms that they’re using. And of course, they’re all disparate systems, right? So there’s no interoperability between the multiple connectivity management platforms. So they really need to be operationally efficient. They need a single pane of glass for one solution or one solution across all of their mobile network operators. If even if you’re a domestic company, more than likely, if you have a static solution, you need two, maybe three mobile network operator integrations there, and they need, their ask is, I need to simplify that. That adds to the complexity of my operations. I need to learn a new system. I need to develop APIs into that additional system and manage them separately. So that was one of the key things is that legacy solutions really are not living up to the challenges that they have today. Other things that I would point at is really kind of the overall requirements. You mentioned 5G earlier, that is one that there we’re repeatedly hearing requests for particularly now that unlicensed spectrum is available CPRS and in the US is available. And so we’re seeing the need for 5G capabilities like network slicing, like multiMC SIM switching between profiles here at simplifying SKUs. We’re seeing the requirements for better billing functionality. And that really means a billing solution that meets different commercial models there. And then of course, local MCs there that’s associated with the SIM technology and the need for permanent roaming support. Every company that is going global, they have that list of countries where permanent roaming is not allowed and they need local solutions for that, but having that local solution today comes with added complexity of possibly doing another platform for those countries, or just simply not being able to meet those requirements. So those are some of the, you know, kind of key takeaways, if you will, from the survey there, that we had with that group. And like I said, a lot of it was aligned with what we’re already solving as a customer, but also leads to the focus that we need to have with ensuring that we have a single pane of glass around the world. Our 5G strategy is very much aligned with what they’re doing as well. And by the way, I will say our from a network slicing perspective, we do, on the 4G side, we already have with our core network, with the ability to plot, deploy, packet gateways at the edge, if you will, with the customer. Really, we have the network slicing in place today to start to solve those solutions immediately.
– [Ryan] That’s great. You know, I’ve heard recently the kind of one pane of glass approach, if you will, used more often than I ever have before. And I think as we kind of understand and better understand how companies are positioning themselves in the market, I think that one pane of glass approach really applies well to, you know, what companies should be looking for when they’re looking for a company to work with, especially on the connectivity side, the application side, you know, that kind of side. So that’s been fantastic. Thanks again for kind of getting into that. How long was that survey run for, by the way?
– [Curtis] I think we ran it for four months.
– [Ryan] Oh wow. Okay.
– [Curtis] We ran the survey. You know, we had like almost a thousand respondents to it there. So it was a really good– I’ll say James Brehm and associates, they do a really good job of these surveys and very experienced in the market. They know the industry well, so it was good to have a partner like them to work with. And we got some really good results that one can say we’re leveraging to improve our business.
– [Ryan] That’s awesome. Yeah, no, we know James Brehm and those guys over there. They’re actually a, kind of like a analyst partner of IoT For All. So we’ve had a relationship with them for many years. They do great stuff. They know the space very well. So I’m glad you also had success working with them. That’s fantastic. Last thing I wanted to ask you, before we finish up here is, so when you all were– Ever since you’ve kinda gotten involved with floLIVE, there are, you know, when companies get started in IoT or trying to venture into adopting IoT, there’s always a lot of different avenues that a company can take because IoT can impact so many different areas within a business or a client’s business even. How were you all, or I guess, how do you all now, even consider which avenues IoT will impact to position yourselves to be able to kind of take advantage of that across different industries? And I guess what advice do you have for companies out there maybe thinking about how to kind of break down the, you know, the broad nature of IoT for their specific business to see kind of what makes the most sense for them?
– [Curtis] Yeah. I think I’ll say, in general, it goes back to what I said earlier. Every enterprise, MVNO, that’s looking for a solution for IoT, they really should be focused on talking to people that take that consultative approach, because you really have to understand the various impacts of different business segments, different groups within a company there to really hone in on the right solution for them. And the other piece that we bring to the table, from our years of experience in the industry, so between me and my team, we have almost 90 years of experience in the industry. So the ecosystem partners that we have, people that we know around the industry from module manufacturers, chip set manufacturers, OEMs, all of these, and even application service providers here, it’s really important to know them and to have that vision of seeing multiple use cases and understanding how those use cases apply to a specific customer. And sometimes, you know, what we’re hoping to do is just save people the tons of time that it would take to learn these things on your own.
– [Ryan] Right.
– [Curtis] My addition, well, we we’ve seen this done. We know some pitfalls, some challenges that you’re going to have, here’s how you get through that. Here’s a partner in the market that you can talk to, to get through that. So it’s really important for us to focus on that aspect, that consultative approach with customers there and understand, fully, their business, their segment, who’s doing what, what their objectives are to get to the end point where we we’re delivering the right solution at the right time, and of course at the right cost.
– [Ryan] That’s great. And I think that kind of segues into the final question I wanted to ask you, as we’re finishing up here is just, if our audience wants to talk more, learn more about what you have going on at floLIVE, kind of have that consultative kind of conversation about what they’re doing and find how you know, what you are offering could be a fit for them. What’s the best way to reach out and connect?
– [Curtis] Yeah, I mean, reach out to me in various means. You can reach out to us at [email protected] and, or reach me directly at [email protected] Or of course we’re on social media, LinkedIn, Twitter. However you want to reach us there, we’re available to be reached and we look forward to working with your listeners.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Thanks again, Curtis. This has been a great conversation. I appreciate all the light you kind of shed on a lot of different areas as it relates to connectivity. I think what you have going on is wonderful. You’ve seen a lot of success ever since, at least, you’ve joined and you know, congrats again on the funding round, it seems like you’re going to have, you know, a nice amount of money to kind of help kind of grow and take it to the next level and keep providing this fantastic service to the industry. So thanks again for your time and look forward to hopefully having you on again in the future.
– [Curtis] You’re welcome, Ryan. And thank you for providing the platform. I know it’s been very informative when I’ve listed in the past, so I hope that your readers, your listeners, I should say, get some benefit out of it. And if so, I look forward to hearing from them.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Thanks again.
– [Curtis] Thank you, Ryan. Take care.
– [Ryan] All right, everyone. Thanks again for joining us this week on the IoT For All podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode and if you did, please leave us a rating or review, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on whichever platform you’re listening to us on. Also, if you have a guest you’d like to see on the show, please drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll do everything we can to get them as a featured guest. Other than that, thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next time.