Talking Heads: Team, Tools and T-Mobile are the 3 keys to RACO’s fun in the sun, says Horn

As a provider of wireless data solutions to the machine-to-machine (M2M) communications industry, RACO Wireless is perhaps best known for its efforts to simplify mobile device management, cut costs and assure mission-critical applications. What Jeremy Cowan also finds is their exuberance at the way M2M is re-shaping entire industries.

John, you’ve said that RACO Wireless are easier to do business with now and this is accelerating growth, can you explain what you mean?

John Horn: Sure. We have taken the message that we had for the last nine years at T-Mobile and brought it to RACO. We’ve combined the three Ts, which for us are Team, Tools, and T-Mobile. So we’ve got the team with the most experience, the best tools for the business, for the T-Mobile network.

We have taken down so many barriers and we can ‘onboard’ customers very rapidly, which allows them to get to market faster, which allows them to manage their business more effectively. It allows them to have a very profitable business model.

So, all these things coming together are creating an environment where companies can really hit the market running and make an awful lot of profit, much more quickly, because they’re not bound down in the old processes that M2M used to have in the business.

M2M Now: What are the barriers that you’ve taken down?

JH: Well, the first thing that we did was that we simplified the certification process. In the US we have PTCRB certification that’s required by all carriers, what we have…

M2M Now: Sorry, PTCRB?

JH: It’s easier to just keep it as an acronym (Laughter)*. What it does is it makes sure all devices meet certain certification standards so that they are able to roam on all networks with PTCRB certification. It allows all devices to roam on all GSM networks.

And what we’ve done is that, with a minimal amount of due diligence on our side, we allowed them (with that certification) to be used on T-Mobile’s network. It takes out all the additional steps that a consumer device has to go through individually on the carrier network. So a process that used to take many, many months, carriers have driven down to many, many weeks and with thousands of dollars spent. It now really becomes a 24-hour process.

That’s step one. Step two is that our platform is so flexible, when someone comes to us with their needs we don’t try to put them in a box and say, you know, here are our billing plans, here are our on-boarding processes. They come to us and say, ‘Here’s what we need to make our model effective’. We have the ability to customise and build new rate plans, load them into our platform and turn them on and give them connectivity – all on the same day if necessary.

The three Ts message is that we have the team with the most experience, we have 200 combined years of M2M experience in our team, which is pretty significant in an industry that isn’t very old. That experience really helps us to have the ability to help our partners’ business. The years enable us to say from our experience, ‘You might not want to take this road because we’ve seen people take that in the past’, or ‘You might want to try this because we’ve seen it being incredibly successful in the past’.That’s the first T.

The next T being the Tools, the tools are so effective, they’re so flexible and they’re so user friendly. It really allows them to manage their business in a very efficient way that they wouldn’t be able to do trying to build something long-term on their own.

M2M Now: How else is your leadership team helping partners to grow their businesses?

JH: Just by the fact that we’ve been together for many years. We don’t have any turnover, we have not had reorganisations. While the competition has been through multiple reorganisations, multiple changes of people, we have had the same core group of people together for nine years. And that same group of people we had at T-Mobile is
now at RACO Wireless.

“We have 200 combined years of M2M experience in our team, which is pretty significant in an industry that isn’t very old.”
– John Horn, RACO Wireless

M2M Now: You say also that your tools have helped you to win the 2012 Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award from Frost & Sullivan. Could you elaborate on that? Are you adding new products regularly?

JH: Yes, because we don’t standstill, we’re constantly enhancing what we have and the ability to provide because of our toolset. We’re now launching full call centre support for our partners in case they don’t have their own 24 x 7 call centre – which most of them don’t, most of these companies don’t have the depth and maturity and time in the business to build that kind of call centre support.

So we’re going to offer that as a product and a service to all of our partners. And that will allow them to be able to have the look and feel of an established company with that type of call centre. But they don’t have to build it all themselves, it’ll be a packaged product provided to them.

We’re also adding new features to our OMS, which is Omega Management Suite platform, our main toolset. Every single day we are looking to enhance it and to stay ahead of the curve. Our objective is not to be reacting to the competition, but to be setting the next level that the competition has to react to.

M2M Now: Could you tell me more about the Omega Management Suite?

JH: Sure. Omega Management Suite allows the total flexibility on our side to build multiple rate plans for people very quickly. It allows us to re-skin it with their own customised graphics so it can look like it’s theirs, and we can do it very quickly. It allows them to have complete management of their subscribers, so they can set thresholds and alerts. If they have multiple product features and someone starts to use more data than they anticipate, they have the ability to go in and proactively change the rate plans and do things to manage their cost and manage their usage, and not have any surprises later in the month.

It’s a really good, effective tool for them. They can create not only the alerts but they can create different types of billing groups. They can do many things that allow them control. The bottom line here is giving them the ability to manage their business, not us telling them from a financial perspective how they have to manage it. It’s putting that control in their hands

M2M Now: Is there anything like this in the market already?

JH: Yes, I think there are things that are similar but I think that there’s nothing that has the complete level of flexibility that we have, and that goes back to our aim of being easiest to do business with. Flexibility really creates an environment that it’s easy for them to manage their business.

M2M Now: Could you tell me more about T-Mobile’s recent announcement of their commitment to 2G for machine-to-machine? Obviously, this is an important message.

JH: Oh, absolutely. You know you look at other companies who are abandoning 2G. What T-Mobile’s doing is they’re going to re-farm a lot of that 2G spectrum for LTE and other products. But they’re leaving a major segment of that 2G spectrum behind, specifically just to support our millions of M2M customers. It’s going to allow us to support that spectrum in the business for years to come without fear of all those towers going dark for our new technologies. So, we really appreciate T-Mobile’s commitment to that 2G platform.

M2M Now: What will be the first evidence, the first effect of that that your customers will see?

JH: We’ll still be here when others aren’t. (Laughter). You know you look at companies in the M2M world and the majority of solutions are perfectly fine with 2G. The companies that need significant bandwidth for their solution, as far as I’m concerned should just skip straight to 4G – there’s no reason to even be lost on 3G. But if you don’t have the need for 4G, the cost of the modules, the cost of that infrastructure is a pretty significant jump from 2G. And so we’re telling our customers if 2G works just fine for you, great, we’re here to support it. If you need a higher speed of bandwidth, you should go straight to HSPA or ultimately to LTE when it’s ready

M2M Now: Yes. And finally, I’ve heard you say, ‘We couldn’t be having any more fun growing a business’.

JH: Yes, you know, we just love what we’re doing. I think one of the reasons that our team has been together for almost a decade is we enjoy what we do, we enjoy working together, we enjoy the excitement of all the new solutions that are coming to the marketplace.

One thing that I said in the past is, ‘I feel like a kid in the candy store’, because we get to see all the newest, latest, greatest technologies that people are developing each and every day. And these technologies are changing industries and the way entire verticals within industry are being managed.

So it’s a lot of fun and the fact is we’re growing, and we’re seeing not only growth in our headcount, we’re seeing growth in our customers, growth in the overall business. And that’s exciting at a time when there are a lot of industries that are struggling out there. So we’re having lots of fun.

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