How long have you been working in technology for and what is your technical background?
I’ve been in this space for 14 years designing and manufacturing products for embedded medical and defense applications. Academically I hold Electrical, Computer Science, and Computer Engineering degrees from the U of M and an MBA from Duke University.
What are you focused on right now?
Growing the Internet of Things by helping companies connect their products to cellular networks. Today I’m helping a customer monitor inventory levels of remote liquid storage tanks for agricultural applications.
What are the some of the technologies within your company and IT environment?
Our business infrastructure is pretty straight forward – networked PCs with a majority of our business applications running on various cloud platforms. The cool technology is our products which are the worlds smallest cellular modems for embedded and IT applications. The product line ranges from 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE solutions on both CDMA and GSM networks.
How do you ensure that IT plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?
Along with our suppliers and cellular carrier partners, we only turn a profit when customers get into production, so we do whatever it takes to nurture companies through the design, validation, and field trial process in order to ensure a successful product launch for all parties involved.
What is the size of your department (headcount) and how is it organized/managed?
We’ve built a team of principal engineers across multiple software and hardware disciplines that allow us to implement custom IoT products for customers in a matter of days. I manage the team and we work as a group on each project to keep the projects moving at maximum velocity.
How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions in an increasingly competitive market?
This area is a hotbed for M2M technology suppliers and Medical companies. There is a lot of great talent from which to draw. The work we’re doing is exciting and in a popular space right now so we have folks sending resumes and calling on weekends even though we don’t have any posted positions. For the folks we do have on staff, retention has been about empowering them to make decisions that are right for the customer and keeping a steady pipeline of challenging problems to solve.
How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?
To stay on top of current happenings, I subscribe to a handful of news feeds that track our suppliers, customers, and competitors across multiple industries. Every day there is a new technology, product, or acquisition that needs to be evaluated and may ultimately lead to an adjustment in our business strategy.
What excites you about where technology is heading?
We live in a time where there is a convergence of technologies that enables IoT applications never before possible. Specifically, the price of cellular data plans, the price of cellular modems, and the availability of affordable cloud infrastructure make many new applications possible.
What concerns you about where technology is heading?
Our niche is cellular connectivity. Alternatives to cellular like Wifi and Google’s proposal for nationwide free Wifi network would create a major impact on our business that would necessitate a change in our long term strategy.
What are you into outside of technology?
I’m a builder. I love to build things. My most recent project was converting a 2002 Porsche 911 from gas to fully electric. It took about a year, but now I have a fun way to drive around town running only on electricity. That story can be found here: http://kurtsprojects.blogspot.com/
What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry?
There is an interesting cluster of both Med-tech and M2M-tech companies headquartered in this area that are leading the world in product innovation. We are well positioned for significant advancements in technology and user adoption that will continue to drive job growth for Minnesota.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
As the popularity of the Internet of Things continues to rise in mainstream media, we are excited to be helping companies connect their products to cellular networks and cloud applications for the first time. Our Skywire™ cellular modems are specialized building blocks designed to reduce barriers of entry for companies that want cellular today, but don’t have the time, finances, expertise, or risk tolerance for an in-house cellular design.