Canadian tech outfit SOTI may not be a household name like your Apple or Microsoft but the Ontario-based company has been kicking goals for some time when it comes to the enterprise mobility management space.
SOTI’s journey originally started as consumer product in founder Carl Rodrigues’s basement. However four year into the journey, the focus shifted to the enterprise and securing critical mobile assets inside a company.
It’s a pivot that has proved to be fruitful and it all happened before the iPhone and Android devices ushered in the era of widespread mobility.
Mr Rodrigues said he had inkling that the humble personal digital assistant (PDA) had got the ball rolling on something more profound.
“PDAs didn’t have wireless connectivity but I could see the feature phone and the PDA were going to merge,” he told The Australian.
“Apple didn’t invent the touchscreen, PDAs already had that, I could smell something was going on and I wanted to be part of it.”
BlackBerry, another Canadian technology giant, was at the forefront of the smartphone revolution but it was Apple that cracked the code.
According to Mr Rodrigues, the key to Apple’s success was its unadulterated focus on mobile.
“The hardware was there but people were trying to do desktop things on the phone, so the experience wasn’t there,” he said.
For Mr Rodrigues, enterprise mobility is a multifaceted environment that involves a lot more than just managing company laptops and smartphones. Communicating securely inside the work environment is important but there’s also the job of ensuring mission-critical services that rely on a mobile device run as smoothly as possible.
It’s an area that companies are willing to pay top dollar and SOTI has made a healthy habit of being in the frame that sort of work is up for grabs.
“Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) doesn’t run the business, it’s just one part of it, however, if you are a courier then the device you use for sign-in is your bread and butter,” Mr Rodrigues told The Australian.
“That’s mission-critical mobility and that’s where we play.”
The latest addition in company’s arsenal is the SOTI ONE platform, which is a suite of solutions specifically designed to cater to the need of the mobile workforce.
“We are taking pieces not designed for the mobile world and making them relevant, there are mobile-first tolls but no real platform so many companies have to deal with a mishmash of solutions,” Mr Rodrigues said.
“When you integrate technologies in a way that they talk to each other the whole becomes so much more powerful than the separate pieces.”
With over 17,000 customers across the globe, the Internet of Things trend is likely to be a big plus for SOTI as it extends its platform to manage the explosion of sensors. However, Mr Rodrigues is circumspect about the hype around IoT, saying that while everyone is excited about the networks of the future there’s less focus on how the new technology will work with the old.
“One of the challenges that we see talking to our customers is that a lot of them have made investment in machines and equipment built before the IoT era and need solution that need to leverage the old bits with the new bits.”
“IoT is really powerful once it becomes mission-critical and the trend is much more than just how a Fitbit can talk to your phone,” he said.
Mr Rodrigues is in Australia this week to host an industry panel on how technology can be better used in the local age-care sector and he said that while IoT and automation will shake up the economics of many sectors, the challenge will be to find a balance between capability, opportunity and value.
“As we automate more things we will also create new types of work, it’s part of the ongoing evolution that started a long time ago.”
SOTI is a beacon of sorts in the Canadian technology scene it was completely bootstrapped and is yet to take a single cent from venture capital outfits.
“Today there are no fewer than 400 or so VCs throwing money at us but I am just not interested,” Mr Rodrigues said.
“I really don’t believe in VCs, their thinking is fundamentally opposite to long-term philosophy that you need to build a company that will endure.”
“There’s too much marketing around VCs and entrepreneurs that want to build companies for the long haul need to be careful about quick fixes.”
Reader comments on this site are moderated before publication to promote lively and civil debate. We encourage your comments but submitting one does not guarantee publication. We publish hundreds of comments daily, and if a comment is rejected it is likely because it does not meet with our comment guidelines, which you can read here. No correspondence will be entered into if a comment is declined.