In today’s fast-paced business world, understanding the mindset of your customers is crucial to success in the IoT space. Gerhard Loots, the head of Kallipr, a company specializing in measuring things in new ways to enable insights, emphasizes the importance of understanding the customer’s problem, their definition of success, and entrenching oneself as part of the customer’s team to avoid challenges in IoT.
Before Kallipr in 2021, Gerhard held the Global Head of IoT position at Telstra, where his team established software product development, acquired new capabilities, established international relevance, won multiple industry awards, and drove growth above the industry. He also served as a GSMA’s global IoT steering group member and as a non-executive director of MTData. Before Telstra, he was the general manager of RODE microphones. He developed several new products, including a now globally leading wireless product range, increased productivity, decreased failures, and led to substantial growth. Before immigrating to Australia, Gerhard was the founder of ATEC- a full FTTH service provider where he was responsible for setting strategy and driving product and customer engagements. He identified adjacent growth opportunities for ATEC in security and spearheaded several new initiatives, including Open Access Networks, Dark Fibre and Health. With a Bachelor of Commerce (Law) and qualifications in network engineering and continuous improvement, he strives to establish and maintain positive tension between seemingly opposing disciplines. From his founder days, he has remained passionate about challenging the status quo through innovation and has served as an advisory board member to several startups.
Interested in connecting with Gerhard? Reach out on Linkedin!
Kallipr (formerly known as mIoT) designs and manufactures a range of world-leading, innovative IoT solutions that allow you to better measure and monitor your data in an easy-to-use end-to-end package, ultimately reducing your business downtime and operating costs while improving sustainability. Their asset-to-asset communication and remote monitoring solutions are used across water and wastewater management, air quality monitoring, commercial metering, and many more custom-packaged solutions to help you reduce water leakage, measure air quality, and monitor capacity levels. Their Australian Made industrial data loggers and IoT solutions are used across infrastructure and utility networks, mining, oil & gas, transport networks, and manufacturing, with over 35,000 devices currently installed across the Oceania region. Their award-winning Captis device is designed to be installed in industrial settings or the harshest of environments and features the most extended battery life on the market, the most efficient payload, and simple, seamless installation. Their team of expert engineers continues to explore and advance Their end-to-end solutions so you can easily manage and gain real-time visibility of your devices using the plug-and-play Captis cloud platform. They focus on advancing technologies to create the most secure agile integrations for your business operations, ensuring time and cost savings while providing a cleaner, more sustainable world. Leveraging their broad distributor and partner network, they deliver high-quality, sustainable, and scalable solutions, operating remotely where others cannot – at the far edge!
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(02:26) Understanding customer’s mindset
(04:07) Early stage planning
(06:00) Challenges in IoT
(12:45) Building the business model
– [Gerhard] We often see business cases going from a 5 to 10 year period even. And when you start thinking in 5 to 10 year periods on a business case, it allows you to anticipate some of the problems that the customer might think, might face into the future.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast presented by IoT For All, the number one publication and resource for the Internet of Things. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon. On today’s episode we have Gerhard Loots, the CEO of Kallipr. They were formally known as mIoT. They designed to manufacture a wide range of world-leading innovative IoT solutions for companies to use and better measure their and monitor their own data, things like that. Very, very awesome company. They do a lot of cool stuff. And today we’re gonna be focusing our conversation around kind of working through some of the barriers that come along with IoT. So really about understanding your customer’s mindset, the importance of understanding the customer’s problem and new problems that that potentially arise throughout the development and deployment of an IoT solution the holistic considerations of the implications that adding a new technology into the workflow could cause. And just kinda how to work through those and think about that kind of stuff. So very interesting, unique conversation ’cause we haven’t talked a lot about this in the past so I think we’ll get a lot of value out of it. But before we get into it, any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start? Check out our sponsor: Leverege. Leverege’s IoT solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com. That’s iothangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All Podcast. Welcome Gerhard, welcome to the IoT For All Podcasts. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Gerhard] Thanks Ron. It’s great to be here.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. Our first thing I wanted to have you do is introduce yourself to our audience, quick overview about what the company does and we’ll go from there.
– [Gerhard] Okay. So my name’s Gerhard Loots I head up a company called Kallipr. Kallipr has been around for about five years. We recently rebranded from mIoT to Kallipr and not to the old Kallipr tool that enables you to measure things. And yeah, Kallipr is all about measuring things in new ways to enable people to have sensors at the extreme edge that allows you to get new insights of infrastructure.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Yeah, and for our audience out there we have a few other videos we’ve done together to kind of dive more into the extreme edge, dive more into what is you all do from a solution standpoint. So make sure you check those out. So for today’s conversation, we have a number of topics I think are interesting and for us to dive into. The first thing I wanted to do is just at a high level, get your thoughts on when you’re working with a customer and a lot of our audience out there works with customers in the IoT space. Why is it so important to understand the mindset that the customer has and how can people approach that and do it better?
– [Gerhard] Yeah, it’s a great question, Ryan. I think from our perspective step one is the mindset that we step into, which is to ensure that we own the business case along with the customer. I mean, a lot of these business cases plays out over four lengthier periods of time. You know, we often see business cases going from a five to 10 year period even, and when when you start thinking in 5 to 10 year periods on a business case, it allows you to anticipate some of the problems that the customer might think, you know might face into the future and to make sure that you own that problem along with them. So I think, yeah, we always start off with trying to understand the problem first. You know, trying to understand why is there a problem? What are they trying to hit on a KPI or whatever it may be. What’s their definition of success? And then you really gotta entrench yourself as part of that customer’s team to ensure that you own the problem alongside with them not just for the launch and not just for the proof of value but for the long run so that they can be successful in the end too.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely. It’s something I think that’s often overlooked. And when it comes to kind of building on that, once you understand the customer’s mindset and kind of how to approach it, what are like the main next steps in your opinion to kind of help lead that early stage into kind of success for planning and getting ready for deployment?
– [Gerhard] I think from our perspective, we like to do proof of value right at the start. You know, we like to show that we can solve the problem at least once or twice or whatever that time period is that they require in order to convince themselves that we’ve got a theoretical solution in a practical environment. And then the transformation really starts to take place because a lot of these customers if you take a customer in the water industry, for example these are water experts, they went to uni or wherever it may have been to make water better. They didn’t study IoT or study software or whatever it may be. So, a lot of that is making sure that we play an education role along the way too, that we help them with some of the scaling and transformation problems that they will face along the way. Because these organizations have to change a lot. You know, they’ve got all the same issues as us as tech companies where, they’re trying to attract talent sometimes they’re even competition for us, for talent , and they’ve gotta start building these new digital arms that previously was never necessary. So, for us the next step then is to start defining scale but scale at a base that allows the customer to deliver on their own transformational objectives and not overloading them at the same time too. So, and then obviously, the hardest thing is probably to tell them about some of the issues that we anticipate with what they’re doing. Because some of those things slows you down as a company but accelerates you in the longer run.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it kind of ties into it. I’m curious, how does, so we talked about the mindset but there’s also just understanding the problem that the customer faces, right? And the problems that potentially could be created through or you could come across throughout the development of the solution and the deployment. Why is it so important to kind of be able to put yourself in the shoes of not only the customer but potentially the end user as well to help identify and understand those problems before you get started?
– [Gerhard] Well, it affects the entire design is the very short answer, right? If the problem is really big and hairy, you can probably get away with a bit less accurate solution in the end. But a lot of the problems that we are solving are small problems, but at a very big scale, right? And that means that the margin for error in the solution is significantly smaller. And it’s not about us being legally or technically correct, it’s about the customer then failing as part of his or her ambition to change the organization that they’re involved with, you know. And I think, from that perspective it allows you to think in the long term as opposed to just the short term gain because a lot of these projects take quite a time, quite a long time before they hit scale. So for, so in short, if you don’t think about the problem in the same way as the customer and you don’t understand all their variables, it’ll come up with something that simply doesn’t work for them.
– [Ryan] Yeah, no, I totally agree. And when it comes to, once you understand kinda the mindset, the problem now you’re gonna be talking about picking the right technology for the use case. So what do you think about when it comes to that kind of step of the process of understanding exactly what’s needed on that front? Because there’s gonna be implications to adding new technology into an existing workflow that you’re building a solution for, right? So what are those considerations that need to be taken into account?
– [Gerhard] Well, I mean, let’s start at the very practical side of things. It’s simply about the installation process. You know, if you think about say farmers wanting to put new weather stations on their you know, on their farms. I mean, you’ve gotta make the device easy enough to install just as a starting point. And then you’ve gotta find a way to make sure that that device, the record of the installation is captured and that you’ve got a way to support the customer in the longer run with it. So the technology choice is tremendously important. You know, you start even down to the level of the plastic that you choose, the plastic that you’re choosing might not be sufficient for the use case. You know, Australia’s got really harsh environmental conditions in the outback. The temperature on the ground can easily hit 50, 55 degrees. We’ve got a ozone gap just off the coast of Australia which makes the UV there quite strong. So, you’ve gotta go through every single detail and make sure that, okay well, will this thing survive for the 5 to 10 year period? And then, network connectivity and how that plays out relative to battery life is a tremendously important thing again. And then we haven’t even hit the cloud, right? I mean, you just have to think about the SIM cards how are we transporting the information over the LTE network? Is it a government entity that might have specific rules around, data sovereignty? And then which cloud is the customer the most comfortable with? Or the customer’s contractors the most comfortable with to build these things off? So, it’s really going as deep as you can. And then I suppose at the same time, knowing that the IoT is probably still in its dial-up phase. We’re all making a lot of, we’re all making a lot of mistakes. So we’ve gotta leave a bit of space for our own mistakes and leave a bit of space for the customer’s mistakes.
– [Ryan] Yeah, for sure. And kind of as it connects to the mistake side I mean that kind of makes me think of challenges that might come up. How does a company anticipate problems or challenges a company or a customer maybe hasn’t even thought about or could be coming up, you know? And I think a lot of times they’re gonna be relying on the company they’ve chosen to help build the solution to be thinking about. Even though we might not have domain authority on that side of the industry, we’re still required to be thinking about or at least we’re gonna be leaned on to be thinking about anticipating certain problems that could come up around the process. How does, how is that challenge kind of faced? And what advice do you have for people listening to this on how to kind of think about overcoming and kind of putting themselves in the best position to get through those challenges and problems that may come up?
– [Gerhard] It’s massively challenging ’cause there’s a lot of misinformation in the market and a lot of vendors are still making their decisions around whether or not this is even an industry where they’re gonna stay in. If look at IBM and Google deciding that the IoT platforms will be shut down. I mean those are very, very big names, you know? And that same type of thing is also happening at obviously at a smaller scale with companies like ourselves who are significantly smaller. And I think step one for me is to make sure that you’ve got a partner you can trust. And trust is an interesting one because trust in our our book we talk a lot about trust equals character plus competence. So you’ve gotta make sure that you’ve got people with the right character but also people who really just know their topic and knows what they’re talking about at the first point. And then I suppose from my advice to end users would be remain open to some of the things that your vendors, your trusted vendors are telling you. Because my single biggest concern with IoT is just that we haven’t thought through what IoT at scale means. I mentioned to you earlier that we’ve got one customer with potentially 1.5 million devices, you know you can’t manage 1.5 million devices in a linear manner. You actually have to manage that by exception and you have to allow the machines to close the loop for you as opposed to human intervention in the middle. So we’ve gotta get really ready for machine-based decision and action to manage these things. And I think having that longer term vision, having your data strategy sorted out right at the start that to me is the key thing for the longer term success.
– [Ryan] Yeah, definitely. No, that’s great advice and kind of great things to think about. Now when we kind of, another piece not really related to technology, or necessarily the problems, but there’s always the business model side of it, right? And choosing the appropriate business model to build how do you approach that? How do you kind of help people think through not only the choice but also the building of the business model for a solution that requires one?
– [Gerhard] Yeah. Look, if you take a typical continuous improvement methodology, step one is always to list out all your problems and then to prioritize the problems relative to the cost of implementation or the difficulty of implementation. And you know, I think for us step one is always to go, “Okay, well let’s list out the problems. Let’s understand the value of that problem and let’s see if we can solve that first problem with the solution as we start.” There’s absolutely no doubt that there’s additional benefits that comes from that. You know, one of the water utilities that we’ve worked with, for example wanted to understand the pipe pressure in their system because if the pressure is too high, you start damaging the pipes that the water is going through. So we put a couple of pipe sensors in there, managing the pressure in more real time and then managed to get that right. But then the unexpected thing that happened from there was they started realizing that the pumps that they’re using are running too frequently. So in effect they are burning electricity that they don’t need to burn. And that was a completely unexpected business case benefit that came from the implementation of trying to understand the pressure in the pipe. And we see that quite often. We see that if you can focus on solving the first problem and the first problem gets you across the business case and it’s a very simple calculation. For me the beauty about IoT is that, unlike if you and I were deciding on buying a shirt today, there’s a lot of considerations there that you can’t really measure, right? It’s not that clear why you’re buying that shirt or why you’re doing this or why you’re doing that. Whereas IoT is simple, you know, the cost of the solution has to be less than the cost of the problem, right? And so sort of if you can start off by solving a problem that costs higher than the solution in the long run, not just at the implementation level, you’re setting yourself up for success in the longer run because there will be unexpected benefits, no doubt.
– [Ryan] Right. Yeah, totally agree with you. Last question I have before we kind of wrap up here is we’ve kind of talked through mindset problems, picking technology, the challenges you might come across, the business model, and then we have now we have the use case, right? We have the use case ready to go. How does the company position themselves and position the use case itself in the best way to increase the likelihood of adoption of that use case? What is the approach there? How do you kind of think about that?
– [Gerhard] Well, I think, in all the industries that’s trying to transform themselves there’s always stakeholders beyond the project implementation need. And, for us it’s very important to understand what the KPIs are. You know, okay so what success do you need to show at which point? And then we tie in with those objectives to ensure that we can help the end customer achieve their personal KPIs. I mean the reality of this transformation is that it takes a lot of brave people in organizations to try something different, you know? And we see it as our job to assist them to be successful. Because, you know and look it’s not completely selfless. In the process we become successful too but as long as the customer are successful we believe that we’ll be successful. And for us, it’s just as simple as understanding that part of the personal individual or individuals involved with the project and the organizations longer term commitments to things like, net zero and so forth. Which if we can tie into that and help the the company transform for the better, I believe that we’re on the right track then.
– [Ryan] Yep. I agree with you. Yeah, it’s, I think that’s one of the things that’s gonna contribute the most to the growth of the industry is the adoption of use cases and successes people see in different industries that reconnect to them to encourage them to adopt more IoT solutions. And I think it’s all the stuff we talked about today, the challenges of problems understanding the mindsets, the business model all that kind of things ties into that success. And it’s, and I think as an industry we’re starting to see that more and more. But like you mentioned earlier, we still have a long ways to go. So definitely something to be kind of paying attention to and thinking through. And I think the advice you’ve provided today to our audience is fantastic. A lot of our audience is very much ingrained in the IoT space and looking for better ways to succeed in the deployments and understand their customers, working with their customers, kind of growing those use cases, driving business and so forth. So I think this is a fantastic conversation to have for audience out there who may want to kind of follow up, learn more about what you all have going on. Maybe just follow with questions about this conversation, what’s the best way they can do that?
– [Gerhard] Well, first stop for us is to visit our new website it’s kallipr.com, that’s k a l l i p r.com. Or you can follow us on LinkedIn too or just reach out directly to us via the website or via LinkedIn, whatever is the easiest.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well, Gerhard, thank you so much again for taking the time. Fantastic things going on at the company. I’m very excited to kind of follow along and see how you guys keep growing and progressing with all the stuff that’s happening over there. And we’d obviously love to have you back and talk further about other topics as things kind of continue on into next year.
– [Gerhard] Great. Thanks Ryan. And thank you for the conversation. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
– [Ryan] Thank you. All right everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notifications so you get the latest episodes as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.