In the conclusion to our 3-part interview series, Twisted Pair CEO Tom Guthrie shares his thoughts on “communications as a service,” the importance of choice, and the exciting developments ahead for the company’s unique WAVE software. (Read part one and part two.)
Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Infrastructure is forecast to reach $16.2 billion by the year 2017, creating a massive opportunity for fusing radio and IP communications. What can the industry do to tap into this opportunity?
This is a huge opportunity, and it’s already starting. I believe that in the next 5-10 years, we are going to see the majority of communications linked to a global computing device with software applications. Now, that prediction might be threatening if you are an operator for a radio system of a public sector organization, but we’re not saying, “You’re going away and we’re going to replace you.” What we’re saying is that we can help extend your system and give those customers a choice.
This is a major change, but I think the industry’s comfort level is going to grow over time. Say your organization has 1,000 radio users right now. We think that anywhere from 5-20% of those users could be using a different device – they don’t all necessarily need an expensive, rugged radio; they just need to be part of the team communication. We can replace those highly specialized devices immediately with commercial devices, and because of the lower cost, you can now include new users that have never been part of the communication because you couldn’t afford it or their job didn’t warrant carrying such an expensive device. So it’s an opportunity not just for us, but for better global communication overall.
Are there any other major trends taking shape in the next few years that will significantly impact this market?
I think we are going to see the second version of a movie we’ve seen inthe past – 15 years ago, when people were talking about the potential of doing voice communication like we’re doing now over IP, it was a tad threatening to the telephony folks. The response was, “No, we’re never going to move all this business and critical communication over IP.” But if you fast forward to today, the majority of communication is done this way.
We see some similar concerns today with this transition. If your main job today is to manufacture private radio systems, you may not want this to progress very quickly – but for users, it doesn’t matter. They just need the capability. What we see as an opportunity is a niche area where we can show that there are other options. We’re not bound by having to sell radio or having to sell certain types of hardware. We’re just trying to give customers choice, and whatever is appropriate for their role.
Another trend is the emergence of cloud-based services that provide “communications as a service,” what we’re calling “CAAS.” A huge majority of first responder organizations have less than 50 people in them – they just need the service, not the complexity and burden of managing their own private network. Then they can pick whatever device they want, whatever carrier they want, and just subscribe to the service by utilizing an application on their device.
These are the same trends – the proliferation of mobile devices, band IP through LTE systems, cloud-based services, et cetera – that we’re seeing in commercial enterprises, such as with the World Food Programme; they are just being adopted a little more slowly in the public sector. But they’re getting there.
Twisted Pair’s WAVE technology already integrates seamlessly with Lync and Sharepoint. What is the road map for expanding this, or integrating with other Microsoft products?
I think the future holds tighter integration and a richer multimedia component, such as the ability to text, share pictures and send video. It’s a big contrast to what’s been developed in the past. If I have a push-to-talk radio, there’s only one thing you can do: push to talk. It’s a very basic communication. But if instead I put a mobile computing device in your hand, on a wireless broadband IP network, now I can think about it like a collaboration, and instead of just talking to the person, I can give them information that makes them more situationally aware. The more situationally aware customers are, the better.
What does the future hold for Twisted Pair?
We have teed up an exciting horizontal offering called WAVE Connections which is more for all media and business, so we’re looking forward to success with that offering. In the public sector, we’re working with partners to standup more private cloud offers that are very highly integrated for a user base. If you think about state and local governments, they are sitting on applications and they want some extra security in their private cloud environment as opposed to a general public service cloud. You are going to see horizontal offerings for communications as a service, which can cover the majority of security, but you’ll also see some vertical-specific solutions that are very highly integrated for those markets.
Thank you, Tom, for thisfascinating look into the future of secure unified communications. For moreinformation about Twisted Pair, please visit http://www.twistpair.com/.
To ask questions, share ideas, or receive more information, pleasecontact us at email@example.com or @MicrosoftPSNS.