Going Back-to-School at Embedded World

EmbeddedWorld Student Day at LTRX booth Going Back to School at Embedded World

EmbeddedWorld 2011 – Student Day at the Lantronix booth

Throughout the late ‘80s and ‘90s, if you wanted to be taken seriously as a technology provider, you had to exhibit at all the top shows.  It’s no secret that over the past decade, technology trade shows and events in the U.S. have fallen out of favor with marketers. The time and costs associated with exhibiting heavily outweighed the return on investment.  This isn’t necessarily the case in the rest of the world – especially in the EMEA and APAC regions – where trade shows often play a critical role in furthering strategic partnerships, building brand awareness, driving press coverage, and pushing leads through the funnel.

Last week I had the privilege to attend and exhibit our products and services at the annual Embedded World 2011 event in Nurnberg, Germany.  With an estimated record attendance of 250,000 attendees, the show was and will continue to be a “must-have” for Lantronix marketing efforts.

What was of particular interest was the final day of the show – Student Day – where more than one thousand students from around Europe were provided free admission.  Throughout my conversations with several dozen engineering students, I was surprised to hear almost unanimously the lack of support they and their universities received from technology companies.   In the days before the Internet, high tech marketers often implemented “University Programs” – in effect, seeding the market with their products in hopes that after graduation, a new pool of talent would hit the market, already well-versed in their company’s products and technology.  The Internet, coupled with the proliferation of wireless devices (iPads, smartphones) has led to a reliance by technology manufacturers on the newest distribution mediums.  This, in turn, has created a void – and an opportunity for companies such as Lantronix, as these students are our future customers, partners, investors, and employees.  By providing access to our products and related development kits in the actual classroom, we can nurture these future evangelists for the long term.

Case-in-point: I had the opportunity to meet Georg Ottinger, an Austrian grad student, who recently took second prize in our XPort Pro contest for his creation of the OggStreamer, a unique audio-streaming device based on XPort Pro. His enthusiasm around the industry was so inspiring that Lantronix agreed to “sponsor” his research by providing him and his colleagues with up to 10 free XPort Pros for research, development and prototyping.  Covered in the Austrian press, we are thrilled to be working with Georg. If you understand German, check out the below links to learn more about Georg and Lantronix:

Tüftler gewinnt Preis aus dem Silicon Valley:

http://www.nachrichten.at/oberoesterreich/salzkammergut/art71,548528

Netzwerken, experimentieren und sogar Preise einheimsen:

http://www.tips.at/PDFDATA/2011_06/TIV_06_TIV_21v72_big.jpg

 

Connect Smart. Do More.

Our new tagline, or positioning statement, has been extremely well received by customers, the press, and partners.  Most of the time, the response is “Hey, that’s catchy!”  Yes, one of our criteria was hitting on something that would be memorable.  But an effective positioning statement is much more than an exercise in catchy-creativity.  It’s a matter of being strategic, and effective.  In this case, effective positioning means it’s ultimately going to help drive growth (sales).

That said, what is “positioning”?   It’s a strategy.  It’s not about your product, or your service, or even your company.  It’s about your “position” in the mind of your prospect – whether it be a prospective customer, partner, investor, or employee.  And for any company to successfully position itself, there are a few rules of the road –the new position must be:

  1. Believable – the claim is realistic;
  2. Defendable – it matches our capabilities and we have proof points to support it;
  3. Ownable – nobody in the market currently owns that position;
  4. Actionable – it’s aligned with your business strategy and objectives;
  5. Distinctive – it can help you cut through the clutter.

As we enter calendar 2011, a key driver in achieving our growth objectives and increasing shareholder value is our refined positioning – built upon a strategic, coherent, FOCUSED messaging platform and strategy.  In short – delivering the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.  It’s only through consistency and frequency of message that you can build brand awareness and ultimately brand preference and purchase.

Our new tagline – Connect Smart. Do More. – sums up our value proposition to the market.  Above and beyond any of our competition, we provide “smart connectivity.  Lantronix solutions let you do more.  And “do more” is the reason you should care about smart connectivity.

Lofty?  Perhaps.  But the best brands don’t aim for tomorrow or next week.  They look years out, establish their end state vision, and march toward it.  Our customers have asked for connectivity solutions that go beyond mere connectivity, and beyond just M2M.   They want solutions, not just products, that make new revenue streams possible, save money, and allow them to allocate resources more effectively.  And that’s our value-add – with Lantronix, you can connect smart, and do more.

Adding Connectivity…

In February 2010, an Ericsson Executive predicted that in 20 years, 50 billion devices will be connected to networks.  In a world of ‘only’ 7 billion people this may seem farfetched but adoption rates of network connectivity are accelerating.  We see evidence of this not only in the commercial and industrial market segments but also in consumer products.  For example, network connectivity is becoming more common place on televisions and video game systems.  Thanks to the ubiquitous IEEE802.11 wireless standards, unlikely ‘networkers’ are blissfully connected, even great Aunt Thelma in Poughkeepsie!

With such a groundswell around Networking, what is the best approach for a manufacturer to add this important feature?  It depends.  There are many factors that go into selecting the right approach to adding connectivity.  One of the first areas to explore is whether the expertise exists internally to design, develop, troubleshoot, certify, and support networking hardware and software.  If not, is there a relationship with a company who does?  Is it affordable? For example, a project to add IEEE802.11 wireless ability from scratch (component level) to a product being shipped worldwide can easily cost 500,000USD.  What if you need multiple physical interfaces?  For example, 802.11, cellular, and wired Ethernet; the costs multiply.  And then appropriate staff has to be added or trained to take all of the inevitable support calls this technology generates (Aunt Thelma doesn’t know what an IP address is; who’s she going to call?).  Another important decision metric is time to market.  How long can you wait to add this functionality?  Adding a year or more to a project to create a networking solution from scratch may be prohibitive.  Depending on the ramp rate and volumes of the new product, millions of dollars could be lost and a competitive edge could be forfeited to another company.  Lantronix has a very interesting, freeform calculator that helps a manufacturer assess these costs. Lantronix Solutions Calculator.

Many have found that by implementing a turnkey networking solution, they can mitigate the costs and risks associated with doing it all themselves.  Companies like Lantronix have been providing complete networking solutions for many years.  The sensibility of this approach is underscored by the fact that just one product, the XPort, is designed into well over 2 million devices!  All of the hardware and software, including a rich networking suite are included and ready to go.  Some developers have added embedded networking to a prototype in just a few hours!

100% Chance of Clouds

Cloud Computing is very compelling and definitely here to stay.  It eliminates costly, upfront capital investments in hardware, expensive maintenance contracts, and in some cases (like Amazon’s elastic cloud EC2) the upfront costs of operating systems and applications.  As a company’s needs expand, virtual servers can be added and storage increased with a few keystrokes.  And you only pay for what you use, when you use it.

Cloud computing is not completely silver-lined.  The very nature of being in the cloud means these compute resources are outside trying to look in.  Without setting up elaborate VPN capabilities with its subsequent complexities, it is difficult to impossible for a cloud resource to reach in behind a firewall to get to a device and it’s goldmine of information.

Lantronix’ AccessMyDevice.com with its underlying VIP access technology brings this powerful capability to Cloud computing.  Hitherto (always wanted to use that word in a blog), most SaaS or Cloud applications are relegated to “don’t call me, I’ll call you” status.  Traditionally, a user behind a firewall has to bring up a remote desktop client or a browser and go to the cloud, login and proceed to work.  With AccessMyDevice, cloud applications, including SaaS apps can not only reach out and mine remote devices for information, this data can then be stored in Cloud-based databases where it can be further processed or kept for later retrieval.  The cloud computer can also control these ‘edge’ devices as if it were a server right on the premises.  All of our new products include VIP access technology and therefore can easily be part of this scenario.  As we continue to work with microprocessor and other device vendors to add this capability natively, it becomes very clear that Lantronix is extending the power of Cloud Computing to devices.

Saturday Night WiFi Fever

LTRX and iPhone Disco Suit2 Saturday Night WiFi Fever

Having trouble getting attention at the local disco?  Want to make sure the cameraman pans to you at the next ballgame?  Well then, you really want to check out the iPhone-Lantronix suit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZSldyNCI10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luOeJdosct4&feature=related

You may have noticed that the clever inventor used the Lantronix MatchPort WiFi solution to quickly add 802.11 connectivity between his suit and iPhone.  We see a lot of very unique applications of our products and this is certainly at the top of the list.  When you have a great idea for a product, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time trying to figure out network connectivity.  There is much to learn and implement if you try and do it from scratch.  This is where Lantronix saves the day no matter what kind of product you are creating.  Many have been able to integrate Lantronix network connectivity in less than 30 minutes.  More time on the dance floor!  Is that cool or what?