Rony Cohen, the founder of floLIVE tells us about connecting IoT devices at cloud speed.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rony Cohen: Like everyone else, it’s been a crazy time in our lives! We are doing our best to stay active, stay sane and enjoy some of the outdoors. I’ve never been on so many walks!
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded floLIVE.
Rony Cohen: I’ve been in Telecoms and mobile operations since 1999, and I have always been drawn to up-and-coming technologies and, in fact, chased after them. In 2010 I realized that the M2M world would take the shape of its own in the mobile industry, and in 2015 I left the MNO I was working with to form what is now floLIVE. While being at the MNO, I realized that the MNOs have an insurmountable challenge in offering IoT connectivity and that there was one simple reason. MNOs are local, and IoT is global. That means that the needs of IoT devices surpass what the MNOs can offer outside of their geographical area, and even then, inside their own region, the device manufacturer will lack consistency across the MNO’s services. There was a huge gap.
How does floLIVE innovate?
Rony Cohen: floLIVE is constantly evolving because it is at the center of the convergence between the Mobile Industry and the IT world. Our IoT infrastructure-as-a-service and the evolution of 5G has presented a unique opportunity. We are developing specific IoT core capabilities in cloud-based environments with emerging technologies such as Kubernetes. We are constantly challenged to offer the latest configurations of MPN (Mobile Private Networks) in the cloud. But that’s not all. We also offer these technologies converged with Edge Compute capabilities for applications and industries that need low latency and fast connectivity.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Rony Cohen: In a world where we are so used to meeting our customers face to face, it’s been a real challenge not to meet face to face and capture our customer’s requirements. Initially, we faced some challenges completing large projects. However, during the course of 2020, when the industry realized the restrictions are here to stay with us for a while, projects started to take off again, and several industries grew and accelerated the digital transformation. This included logistics and transportation, healthcare, utilities, and industrial IoT. At the moment, we see our biggest growth yet as a company delivering global connectivity and core network-as-a-service in every corner of the world.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Rony Cohen: I would call it adapting to the unknown. We didn’t know how long this would take initially. Along with everyone else, we thought that life would be back to normal by the summer of 2020. floLIVE grew in 2020, and many of the new teams had no chance to meet each other, and in fact, they still maintain an online relationship! We are very proud to have kept all our employees globally during these challenging times and haven’t suffered any turnover or recruitment issues. In terms of product growth, we learned that we needed to adapt how we present our products and services and how we align with our customers. It’s a tougher offering to sell a large-scale infrastructure project that will affect our customers for years to come without ever meeting them, but we’ve risen to that challenge.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Rony Cohen: I guess like everyone, we are on Zoom and every other video-conferencing service our customers choose to use. Our technical planning with our customers has become entirely web-based, and the pandemic has certainly made all our team members perfect their skills with online planning tools. Our marketing and exposure have shifted to the digital world. We previously always attended MWC and CES with several other specific vertical-based shows, and now we have shifted to webinars and online events, and social media.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rony Cohen: floLIVE’s offering consists of a core network. This was traditionally offered only by the legacy Telco vendors such as Nokia and Huawei. However, even these are not cloud-native, which makes it much more expensive for the MNOs to compete on a low ARPU service. We, therefore, evolved our offering into a core network-as-a-service on our existing global infrastructure. From the connectivity aspect, there many IoT service providers which mostly rely on MNO profiles, and handling multiple relationships is expensive and an operational headache. With our unique approach, IoT providers can access multiple IMSIs from a single SIM, accessing local connectivity anywhere, on a global scale.
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