KORE’s new CEO unveils solutions and skills strategy to grow customer confidence in IoT
In his first major interview with any IoT media, Romil Bahl, the newly-appointed CEO of KORE, tells IoT Now’s editorial director, Jeremy Cowan, why KORE has transformed itself from a connectivity-only vendor to an IoT solutions provider. He describes how clients can avoid the disappointing failure rate of IoT pilot engagements, and focuses on upcoming innovations in connectivity, lifecycle and application management, data-as-a-service, security, and reporting and analytics
IoT Now: What was your background in enterprise technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), and how did you come to this role at KORE?
Romil Bahl: I have enjoyed nearly 30 years in the information technology, analytics and professional services industries, which have been invaluable in setting the stage for my work in IoT – especially at KORE, as we work towards delivering comprehensive, strategic IoT solutions supported by end-to-end connectivity and device management offerings. Earlier in my career, I held leadership roles at Deloitte Consulting, A.T. Kearney/EDS and Infosys, leading to my first CEO position at a data analytics-focused public company.
Next, I served as EVP and GM of Global Industries for CSC, leading the industry go-tomarket strategy across its approximately US$9 billion commercial business unit, creating global growth strategies and expanding CSC’s footprint in cloud, cybersecurity and big data. Most recently, I was president and CEO of Lochbridge, a technology and solutions provider in the IoT and connected car space.
I am excited to join KORE and play a significant role in leading the company through its current transformation. Our new growth strategy changes the trajectory and complexion of our company and ensures we are holistically focused on achieving unprecedented results for our customers and partners. This is an inflection point in our history, and I am proud to be leading the organisation through this next chapter, which we have internally labelled KORE 3.0.
IoT Now: Can you describe KORE’s transformation from a connectivity-only vendor to an IoT solutions provider? And how has KORE aligned its consultative and technical offerings?
RB: Secure, managed connectivity is a foundational part of KORE’s end-to-end offerings, and always will be. But KORE has done more than this for a number of years now, especially in the device management and related service areas. Now, we are building on this core business by more effectively integrating our location based services (LBS) and fleet management capabilities, and formalising other value-added offerings that go well beyond connectivity. We fully recognise that while connectivity is essential to IoT, what our customers need are successful business outcomes, gained from data-driven insights from their IoT applications.
As the world’s largest independent network services provider for IoT and M2M communications, we have earned our excellent reputation as a trustworthy, carrier-agnostic partner. Customers benefit from our nearly two decades of experience in M2M and IoT, and we deliver proven network availability with the largest number of carriers globally in a single platform, across a range of different technologies. We are especially known for our expertise in complex enterprise deployments such as those that are multinational and multicarrier.
We have now transformed to reorient KORE into more of a one-stop global IoT solutions provider to create unparalleled business performance for our customers, serving as a trusted advisor and partner-of-choice to help them navigate the increasing complexities of IoT deployments. One of our key assets, having served over 6,200 customers in this market, is our knowledge of the IoT ecosystem, and so we can effectively leverage partners to seamlessly deliver the solutions our clients need, while also serving as a key channel and enabler for growth for them, as they focus on their business and their key differentiators.
To this end, we have paired our recognised IoT connectivity and device management capabilities with the insights learned from almost two decades of developing IP, engaging top-tier partner organisations and hiring what we believe is the best global talent.
We have, in essence, re-aligned every aspect of the business to more comprehensively meet the current and future needs of our customers and serve them as a true strategic partner.
IoT Now: What are the key factors in KORE’s expansion? What skills do your customers look for in a complex and evolving IoT landscape?
RB: We are making a significant investment in future growth. We are leveraging our experience as an IoT pioneer and our global scale to become the dominant IoT enabler with the knowledge, expertise and solutions to solve the most complex customer challenges.
Our refreshed, customer-centric approach has resulted from evaluation and investment across almost every aspect of our business, from our product offerings to our support services, and everything in between.
The most significant technical innovations will come in the areas of advanced connectivity including eSIM and iSIM leadership, endpoint lifecycle management, application management and data-as-a-service (DaaS), security management, as well as reporting and analytics.
We have a strong understanding of what our customers seek in the complex and evolving IoT landscape. Business and technical leaders struggle to navigate the complexities of IoT, where common challenges include a lack of internal expertise and experience, insufficient resources to manage multiple vendor relationships, the complexities associated with unfamiliar logistics management and coordination, and the frustration and lost revenue associated with delayed time-to-market releases. These factors are driving a disappointing failure rate of IoT pilot or proof-of-concept engagements – and by helping our customers look around the corner to see what challenges are coming, we are ensuring return on investment and importantly, meaningful steps forward on their IoT and digital enablement journeys.
Simply put, to alleviate these challenges, we ensure our customers stop guessing at solutions. KORE removes uncertainty and helps our customers make the right decisions, the first time.
Our deep IoT knowledge and experience, global reach, purpose-built solutions and deployment agility accelerate IoT investments for proactive performance management, improving business outcomes. By guiding customers through the complexity of their environments and myriad IoT market choices, we replace friction with results. In addition, since KORE serves as a single global solution for our customers, we eliminate the complexity of multiple contracts with individual carriers, hardware vendors and application providers.
IoT Now: What lessons has KORE learned from its almost 20 years of experience in carrier relationships, technology and services? And how do these benefit your customers?
RB: We have learned – and you will start to notice a theme here, if you haven’t already – that customers in every industry struggle with the complexities of planning, deploying and managing IoT solutions. The struggle often results in delayed time-to-market, missed revenue opportunities, competitive disadvantages and issues surrounding customer loyalty.
Through our deep connection with customers, we have been able to understand these pain points – from technical challenges to logistics services surrounding endpoint devices – and provide real solutions that reduce friction and produce measurable results. The more we can simplify, the better.
This approach is informed by our years of experience, related insights and strong partner relationships. Each engagement begins with formulation of a comprehensive strategy, followed by a security assessment, technology selection and development, solution deployment, ongoing operational management, and sustainment and support services – all guided by ongoing analysis and optimisation capabilities, which we are continually expanding.
By offering this broad set of capabilities, we are able to work as a trusted advisor and partner to organisations of varying levels of IoT maturity – enabling us to serve more than 6,200 customers and their approximately nine million devices around the world.
IoT Now: Some companies have a horizontal view of the IoT sector, serving customers in all industry verticals. Can you elaborate on KORE’s strategy of addressing the IoT needs of industry verticals?
RB: The IoT is not a one-size-fits-all concept, so a horizontal approach doesn’t really meet the full, nuanced needs of today’s solution providers and enterprises. Each vertical – and more, each individual customer within that vertical – requires custom, purpose-built solutions, shaped by a detailed understanding of the environment, to specifically address and unlock the endless possibilities of IoT technology.
For example, some industries have highly complex regulatory requirements. In the U.S., healthcare customers have tremendous responsibility to meet security and privacy guidelines such as HIPAA and HITECH. These regulations vary in different countries, increasing the complexity for global businesses.
For transportation and fleet customers, the recent ELD Mandate presents another set of requirements and opportunities that are vastly different from those that affect healthcare organisations, or any other vertical. We would be remiss not to deeply understand these nuances and provide strategic counsel and appropriate technical recommendations. And our customers do not have the time to spend bringing us up to speed from square one.
These unique needs demand industry-specific IoT solutions, and that is why I genuinely believe KORE is better positioned to serve customers than a horizontal provider.
IoT Now: The company is known for its focus on fleet management, healthcare, and logistics/asset tracking. Why do you particularly target these industries?
RB: Fleet management, healthcare and logistics/asset tracking have historically been successful verticals for KORE, although we also provide specialised solutions for many other industries, including retail, financial services, industrials, insurance, and auto, among others.
In the healthcare industry, for instance, KORE works with application service providers to help deliver integrated, connected healthcare solutions and accelerate those deployments. Some examples of our healthcare IoT solution offerings include our location tracking solutions that provide peace of mind for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers, mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) enablement for seniors or the physically challenged, and our fully managed remote workforce management offerings that enable more efficient home healthcare delivery.
KORE’s capabilities in the space are also welltimed, as MarketsandMarkets predicts a 30% CAGR growth in the healthcare IoT market from 2017 to 2022. We provide the comprehensive IoT solutions healthcare organisations need to effectively adopt IoT and deliver innovations that will result in high quality care and improved patient outcomes. The value-focused partnership works well at this stage, and it is one we will look to replicate elsewhere, moving forward.
IoT Now: How does KORE attract and retain top global talent in the Internet of Things?
RB: I have a personal passion for engaging, developing and empowering great talent, so this is an important part of my mission at KORE. We have been methodically working to build a strong team with the right mix of complementary skills, supported and driven by a high-performance culture. This is reflected in the new members of our world-class senior leadership team and the current open positions across the organisation.
We are very fortunate that KORE has become a magnet for global talent at our many locations across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Great candidates come to KORE, given our heritage of market leadership, to write their own chapter of the IoT revolution we helped to spark and to work with other likeminded, forward-thinking professionals. This builds even further momentum, as each new hire makes our organisation a more desirable place to work. Our people are energised and inspired by our transformation and what is surely yet to come.