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The winners of the 2015 M2M Pioneers are:

 

PhotosWinning Individuals (click here to learn more)
Pioneers_cawesEngineering Telematics Success Expands
Neil Cawse
Neil Cawse
CEO, Geotab

In the technology space, without constant driving innovation, a company will quickly stagnate and die. This fate is not in the cards for Geotab, especially while Neil Cawse is at the helm as CEO. Cawse is on a mission to make a difference in the way companies operate, to improve the efficiency of running fleets, to generate people’s accountability, and to save lives.

What’s more, Cawse wants to help create telematics technology that’s more than just a flavor-of-the-day solution. “I want to be proud of the technical work we have done and (create) something that I know will still be used in 20 years,” he says. “I want to continually … grow as a leader and to make the company the most successful and solution-oriented telematics provider across the globe.”

Cawse is an entrepreneur and an engineer at heart. He was also an early innovator in digital security. In the 1990s, Cawse developed Vircom, a computer software solution that continues to protect email for businesses across the globe. He sold his software-development company to Datatec in 1998 and, since then, has helped grow Geotab from infancy to one of the largest telematics companies in the world.

As CEO of Geotab, Cawse is involved in day-to-day engineering decisions and continuously works toward reinforcing the company’s integrity and its forward-thinking ideals—including putting the customer’s needs ahead of company profits. While much of his focus is on continuous and innovative product development in telematics, Cawse says he is also strategically focused on developing a vast ecosystem of partners that will last the test of time.

“As both an engineer and CEO of Geotab, I apply problem-solving thinking and a long-term focus for the company, making decisions based on the betterment of employees, company, and partners down the road,” he says. “This balance between short-term and long-term decisions is difficult, but I make it a priority to place principle and thorough research over the quick and easy dollar.”

Cawse’s background as an entrepreneur helps him approach and solve business problems in effective ways. His leadership has helped Geotab adapt, evolve, and succeed in the ever-changing GPS (global positioning system) technology industry for more than a decade. In the future, Cawse envisions steady, solid growth, continued strong partnerships, and more subscriptions. He says: “I estimate that Geotab will reach 500,000 vehicle subscriptions by the end (of) 2015 and can reach a goal of 1 million subscriptions by the end 2017. These numbers are something that I excitedly anticipate as we continue our innovation in the telematics marketplace.”

To meet these lofty goals, Cawse will need his team. “Doing well is never about one person’s achievement,” he says. “It takes one person to light the spark, but many hard-working and dedicated people to rally around.” Many Geotab team members are also stakeholders, adding to—or at least proving—their level of commitment.

Cawse sees his team as disruptors in the telematics space and in the IoT (Internet of Things) at large. “Telematics is a poster child for what IoT can do to change the world,” he says. “Every single fleet should have telematics and we plan on being at the front of this change.”
Pioneers_hagertyPerfecting the Consumer Experience Even More
Robert Hagerty
Robert Hagerty
CEO, Icontrol Networks

Early in Bob Hagerty’s career, he had the opportunity to be part of not only a company transformation, but also an industry transition. Working in the broadcast equipment division at Signal Corp., Hagerty helped expand tape recorders into broadcast solutions, driving the industry transition from analog to digital. Looking back, he says, “That experience was the most inspiring event in my early career, and something I always reflect on as I tackle similar challenges and opportunities in the M2M/IoT space.”

Today, Hagerty serves as CEO of Icontrol Networks, a position he has held since 2011. Thanks to his experience gained at Signal Corp., alongside executive roles at companies such as Polycom, Logitech, and Conner Peripherals, Hagerty has learned the importance of accommodating consumers’ technology expectations, in addition to their wants and needs. This understanding has helped Hagerty effectively build product strategies that optimize future growth.

At Icontrol, Hagerty’s focus is on product strategy with existing customer and partner networks, in addition to growing the company through new market and partnership opportunities. He’s also dedicated to growing the smart-home space by perfecting the user experience. “Both Icontrol and I are focused on the end-user consumer; we realize we must deliver the best, most seamless experience possible to stay a leader in the smart home industry,” he says. “Our deployment customers expect this from us, and their end user customers expect it from them.”

In practice, this means offering an easy-to-use UI (user interface) and, since consumers aren’t one size fits all, allowing consumers to pick and choose the devices they want. Hagerty’s goal is to help Icontrol provide an easily customizable connected home solution so that households and families worldwide can have a safer, healthier, and happier environment.

While the smart-home industry is still in its infancy, Hagerty points out that Icontrol has been perfecting its technology for longer than most other IoT companies have been around. “I believe it’s my job to leverage this first-mover advantage and inspire the company to advance mass adoption, both in the U.S. and abroad,” he says. “Smart home will ultimately hold more opportunities than we can imagine, and I can’t wait for my team be a part of something that helped changed the world.”

Also a board member for Smart Technologies, Plantronics, and eyeIO, Hagerty is active in the technology community and feels strongly that the M2M/IoT space is an industry with incredible opportunity. However, he warns that success is about more than just finding the next best thing.

“I’ve watched a number of companies develop incredible technologies over the years that have unfortunately failed in the marketplace,” he says. “What I learned from many of those case studies is that innovation alone isn’t transformative, but more so a means to be disruptive. Nowadays we’re seeing that consumers aren’t as open to adopting technology just because it’s new; they need to see a logical use or realistic solution that makes sense for their daily life. Without a strong go-to-market strategy technology companies can over-innovate. This can put them in a situation of having great innovations, but no market for them. These cases help me focus my efforts on developing technology to address consumers’ everyday needs, something that will be a critical component to our current and future success.”
Pioneers_bill-logmein'Skating to Where the Puck Is'
William Wagner
William Wagner
President, LogMeIn

If you think we live in a connected world, Bill Wagner would like to argue that we’re not. He says rather than viewing society through a lens of what is currently possible, we should look instead to the world in the near future. “I’ve heard many people comment about what a connected world we live in,” Wagner says. “I couldn’t disagree more; counting the computers, phones, tablets, and a few connected products, we may have 10 billion or so devices that are connected. The vast majority of items we interact with every day are not connected—my contact lenses, my clothes, my chair, my coffee maker, etc. Within the next 10 years, a product that isn’t connected will be the exception, not the norm.”

Wagner bases his opinions on a 20-year track record of driving growth at public and privately held technology companies. After serving as CMO at Fiberlink, an enterprise mobile device management company that was eventually acquired by IBM, as well holding various sales and marketing leadership positions at AT&T, and spending six years in executive leadership at Vocus, a cloud-marketing software company, Wagner joined the team at LogMeIn in 2013 as its first COO. Brought in initially to help implement strategic initiatives, including LogMeIn’s IoT strategy, Wagner was promoted to president in January 2015 and is now in line to succeed LogMeIn’s founder Mike Simon as CEO at the end of the year.

So far in his career, Wagner has presided over, and contributed to, tremendous growth. For instance, last year, LogMeIn reported 34% growth with $222 million revenues. During his six-year tenure at Vocus, the company grew more than 300%. “It’s fair to say I enjoy growing companies with SaaS (software-as-a-service)-based business models,” Wagner jokes. “While I enjoy all aspects of functional leadership, I especially like to dig deeply into the go-to-market and customer-facing side of a business. I believe this experience has helped accelerate LogMeIn’s growth over the past several years and will be especially relevant as markets in which we compete, like the Internet of Things, become more mature.”

Currently responsible for LogMeIn’s worldwide operations and go-to-market activities, Wagner aims to help set the company up to be a leader in three key markets—identity and access management, collaboration via LogMeIn’s join.me product, and the IoT with its Xively platform—all within the next three to four years. Through organic growth and strategic M&As (mergers and acquisitions), Wagner believes he and his team can make it happen.

Wagner credits chairman and founder Mike Simon for creating a culture at LogMeIn in which it’s easy to become inspired and that promotes being a positively disruptive force in the markets the company serves. Wagner also applauds Simon for “skating to where the puck is” and spearheading the company’s move into the IoT several years ago.

“While I hope to be a leader that can inspire people to do great things for our customers and our shareholders, a big part of my success is based on the company’s vision and mission,” Wagner says. “At LogMeIn, we believe possibilities increase with connectivity and our mission is to simplify the way people—and things—connect to each other and the world around them. The potential is endless and our mission helps create an environment that frankly makes it easy to be inspired.”
Pioneers_lindvallInspiring Positive Transformation
Stefan Lindvall
Stefan Lindvall
CEO, MultiTech Systems

Stefan Lindvall believes positive transformation in this space comes from combining technology with business understanding—and doing so in such a way that all stakeholders in a business realize value, including customers, partners, suppliers, shareholders, and, most importantly, the team. With experience in the successful establishment of new businesses, revenue growth and margin improvement, and the ability to expand customer and partner relationships, Lindvall is helping to create this type of positive transformation as CEO of MultiTech Systems.

In preparation for this role, Lindvall has had 20 years of high-level experience in the wireless industry, having worked across multiple business disciplines, including general management, sales, business development, and marketing. Previously, he served as Wavecom’s president of the Americas and held various leadership positions at Sony-Ericsson and Ericsson, including vice president of M2M sales for the Americas. In the past five years at Connected Development, a MultiTech subsidiary, Lindvall is proud to have created one of the leading M2M/IoT design services companies in the U.S.

As CEO of MultiTech, Lindvall brings a lot to the table through his management style. “I hope to foster a culture of entrepreneurship, creativity, and accountability amongst the team,” he says. “I am pleased to report (that) I already see the team beginning to step out of their comfort zones, and the organization flourish as a result.” When asked about his vision, Lindvall first responds: “I’m glad you asked.”

Under Lindvall’s guiding hand, MultiTech’s vision is to be the preferred provider for innovative connected technology destined to transform the world. The company’s mission is to make connected technology easy to adopt and use by focusing on customer needs, developing innovative solutions, outpacing market change, leveraging best-in-class processes, and empowering its team to achieve and grow.

From a strategic point of view, Lindvall is putting MultiTech in a position of growth and profitability. He’s working with his team to grow revenue by getting closer to customers, emphasizing the importance of having the right people in the right places within the organization. He’s also implementing a few tweaks to the go-to-market strategy and pursuing the right mix of exciting new products. This includes taking a close look at where the company invests and where it doesn’t.

From expanding internal communications for better transparency and engagement to transitioning from a channel-dependent model to more of a hybrid approach and reinvigorating its marketing messaging for vertical markets, Lindvall says MultiTech’s new communications strategy in 2016 is designed to address customers first. When it comes to technology innovation, Lindvall says: “We are committed to continuing our legacy of firsts—and you can expect to see us get more aggressive in rolling out both new technologies … and product enhancements. The focus is to help our customers navigate the technology landscape and identify the most appropriate solution for their specific applications.”

Lindvall finds it inspiring to be part of this ever changing and growing industry that leverages technology to solve important issues. He is especially thankful to be a part of an organization filled with great people who strive to deliver excellence. “Wouldn’t it be nice to look back at retirement and know that, in some small way, you’ve left the world a better place?” Lindvall asks. “If I can have a transformative effect on this organization and, as a result, on the industry, I will consider myself successful.”
Pioneers_eisenbergTrailblazing in M2M
Marc Eisenberg
Marc Eisenberg
CEO, ORBCOMM

It’s not always easy to be a trailblazer. In fact, new ideas are not often very popular … until they succeed. Marc Eisenberg, president and CEO of ORBCOMM, wants to make sure he’s a trailblazer and not just a follower. “There are a number of players in the industry that follow the leads of others, and they are late to the original idea,” Eisenberg says. “I look for new opportunities, many of which might be unloved by others. This approach may not be popular in the short run, but many of these opportunities have been very successful for ORBCOMM.”

Eisenberg began his career at ORBCOMM in 2001 when he and a group of investors purchased the company after it had run into financial troubles. He started as CMO, moving to COO in 2006 when the company went public, and then became CEO in 2008. Prior to ORBCOMM, Eisenberg served as senior vice president at Cablevision, where he helped the company deploy video and Internet services through retail channels.

Since the 2001 takeover, Eisenberg and team have turned a stagnant little satellite company into a powerful force in the M2M industry. “We took a small company with just over 10,000 subscribers to today where we have 1.3 million subscribers and growing,” Eisenberg says. “We created a great employee base, multiplied the revenues 20-fold, and are well positioned for our impending next-generation OG2 satellite network that will take the company to the next level.”

One of Eisenberg’s current focuses is on converting ORBCOMM’s business model from a network operator to a full service provider that can deliver all or specific aspects of an M2M solutions offering. “While there are other companies that offer ‘a la carte’ services such as hardware, cloud, device management, network connectivity, sensors, Web services, or third-party integrations, ORBCOMM today offers all of these things … at unparalleled price points,” Eisenberg says.

As the market evolves, businesses that do not keep a watchful eye on the market will find their technology surpassed and obsolete. However, under Eisenberg, ORBCOMM will not suffer this fate. He says: “I try to understand the market and create a vision and a path to execution that can be shared and used to inspire my employees, my board of directors, my shareholders, and my customers.”

As a hands-on leader, Eisenberg personally manages the global sales group and the M&A (merger and acquisition) functions at ORBCOMM. He spends a good amount of time working with employees to craft the company’s product and service offering for its broad range of vertical and geographic markets, pitching products to some of the largest corporations in the world, and relaying ORBCOMM’s vision to its shareholders.

Eisenberg has also learned the importance of surrounding himself with the right people, recognizing that a great idea—or the execution of a great idea—requires teamwork. He also strives to live a balanced life by making time for work, family, and personal wellbeing—and he wants all other “ORBCOMMERs” to do the same.

“I’d like my legacy in the industry to be that of a leader that blazed a trail and built a company that thrives long after I’m gone,” Eisenberg says. “I want my employees to remember me as a great boss that advanced their career and cared about their future. I want my shareholders to remember me as a straight shooter that was deserving of their faith. If people made a few dollars on ORBCOMM, that would be pretty cool as well.”
Pioneers_rondolatInnovation in Illumination
Eric Rondolat
Eric Rondolat
CEO, Philips Lighting

At Philips Lighting, the company vision goes beyond illumination and energy efficiency. According to CEO Eric Rondolat, Philips Lighting creates new experiences, provides special moments, and relaxes or energizes people. It can make urban spaces safer, reduce accidents, revitalize communities, and help businesses improve productivity and efficiency. Simply put, Rondolat and team are out to provide the best lighting experience in the connected world.

As the market shifts rapidly from LED to connected lighting technologies, Philips Lighting will be in the thick of it, driving innovation forward, with Rondolat at the helm. “We are doing this during the greatest period of change in the lighting industry since the invention of the electric light bulb,” Rondolat explains. “We see a day when every light bulb and luminaire we sell will be connected or network ready. We also foresee great value in the information provided by sensor-rich connected lighting systems—information such as room occupancy data, way finding, etc.”

As CEO of Philips Lighting, Rondolat manages the world’s largest lighting company, a business of more than 38,000 people with sales last year of 6.9 billion euros. His role is to strengthen the company’s leadership position and successfully grow the business, in part by communicating its vision and fine-tuning its strategy.

Having worn many hats in business, including in R&D (research and development), operations, finance, and marketing, Rondolat brings adaptability and business understanding to the table in his current role as CEO. He provides a steady guiding hand, even through rough waters. In one example, Rondolat says: “While working as a manager in South America, the Argentinian economy crashed. I had (to) think on my feet and make tough decisions for the business to survive. We bounced back stronger than ever, becoming one of the company’s most profitable geographies and gained marketshare.”

Rondolat touts the need to develop, nurture, and encourage talent; to innovate continuously; and, as an underpinning to everything, to serve and even “delight” customers and partners through innovation and top-notch customer service. For Rondolat, innovation is what will extend his company’s leadership position in lighting for the IoT. “To achieve (our) goals we must continue to improve on all fronts. You never stop. It’s a process of constant improvement,” he says. “Being second best is not an option.”

Being CEO of a leading company also means maintaining a sense of social responsibility, according to Rondolat. “There are 1.1 billion people on the planet without electricity who light their homes with candles, wood fires, and kerosene that result in 1.5 million deaths every year through fires and respiratory illnesses,” he explains. “This is not acceptable when technologies like solar-powered LED lighting (is) available.” By working with governments and entrepreneurs, Philips Lighting is committed to eliminating light poverty by 2030—a goal Rondolat believes the socially minded founders of Philips would fully support.

Rondolat is most proud of Philips Lighting innovations that have proved positively disruptive in space while simultaneously improving people’s lives. “To be disruptive, to be transformative you must be driven by customer user cases. So always innovate with customer needs and desires uppermost in your mind,” he says. “Also, appreciate that in the connected world you cannot be an island. You need to partner and choose those partnerships with care. At the same time speed is essential. Don’t delay. Don’t let fear of change paralyze you. Embrace change and make things happen. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes as long as you learn from them and improve.”
Pioneers_heppelmannComfortable with 'Creative Discomfort' in the IoT
James Heppelmann
James Heppelmann
CEO, PTC

Jim Heppelmann grew up in the country, where there was endless work to be done and all kinds of equipment and machinery to operate, repair, and sometimes even customize in the field. “I learned to dig in, get my hands dirty, and figure things out,” Heppelmann says. “And I learned to work hard and try to get things accomplished so I could check them off and move on. I think these are skills that I’ve used nearly every day since in my professional career.”

After earning a university degree that blended engineering and computer science, Heppelmann became a successful entrepreneur and a builder of new software businesses. In 1998, after PTC acquired Windchill Technology, a company he cofounded, Heppelmann stayed on as CTO of PTC. Later, he was promoted to president and CEO with full responsibility for business strategy and operations. At this point in the company’s history, the rate of change accelerated as it moved aggressively to reinvent itself.

One of Heppelmann’s key moves at PTC so far has been surrounding himself with a great team. “When I became CEO, I established a strategy department who in turn presided over a cross-functional ‘strategy council,’” he says. “This group has done wonders to help PTC move beyond day-to-day tactics and think more strategically about what our true opportunities might be, to cause us to fund and launch key new products, and to pursue and land several really great acquisitions. Their fingerprints are all over our reinvention of PTC.”

Heppelmann offers an experience base that helps him understand what customers are trying to accomplish in their businesses and then envision how things might work differently in order to create more value. He also has a sense of “creative discomfort” in which he can identify problems and is motivated to find solutions and implement changes. Finally, he has the drive necessary to help a large organization reposition itself so it can pursue interesting new opportunities. One such opportunity, of course, is the IoT.

Heppelmann believes PTC surprised many people when it entered the IoT space. “PTC was a huge disruptor circa 1985 to 1995 when we pioneered 3D CAD and had the only game in town. But that faded, and while for many years we did well, our innovations grew more incremental and less dramatic,” he says. “I think fundamentally, PTC is becoming a disruptor again. We’ve made bold and surprising moves, the type that first surprise customers, but later amaze and delight them. I think we are doing things that nobody expected or even understood initially, but many now wish they could replicate or leverage.”

Heppelmann has 6,000 people at PTC helping him do his job well. He says one of his responsibilities as CEO is to be out near the front of the battalion “waving a flag and urging everybody onward.” He hopes he can create a great technology company with bold innovations that are as well known to the world in 2020 as they were back in 1990.

“I think that if we remind ourselves to push back on the forces of inertia that try to make tomorrow the same as yesterday, to make sufficient room for bold new ideas and approaches and be open to change, and to complement all of that with a big dose of hard work and drive, it can be done,” he says. “Change is hard, but if we at PTC can transform a perfectly good company into a truly great one, then my goals will certainly have been achieved.”
Pioneers_karamA 4G Vision for IoT
Georges Karam
Georges Karam
CEO, Sequans Communications

To lead a company in today’s fast-changing M2M and IoT marketplace, an individual needs to have a clear understanding of what’s going on in the space and what forces are driving change. For Georges Karam, this can be as simple as watching and listening carefully. As an individual in the role of leading Sequans Communications, Karam saw that 2G was fading and it seemed inevitable that all 2G spectrum would soon be re-farmed and replaced with 4G. How he responded to this observation has helped make him a pioneer in IoT.

As a founder, president, CEO, and chairman of the board at Sequans, Karam not only helped build the company from scratch, he has played an integral role in creating a top global provider of single-mode LTE chipsets for the IoT. After earning a PhD, Karam started out working for big companies, including Philips, Sagem, and Alcatel.

In 2000, Karam launched his first startup company, Pacific Broadband Communications, a Silicon Valley-based developer of cable modem termination systems that was sold to Juniper Networks in 2001. After a couple of years as vice president of the cable modem division at Juniper, Karam cofounded Sequans in 2003 alongside six other founders. Karam’s combined experience at big companies and startups taught him how to take an idea from concept to reality with real products generating business and sales, and how to finance a business for the long term.

Since the beginning, Sequans’ vision has been to be a pure-play 4G chip company that enables 4G on all kinds of devices. “We started with the first flavor of 4G—WiMAX—and we became the company that enabled the world’s first 4G smartphone,” Karam says. “(Then) the 4G world evolved quickly from WiMAX to LTE, forcing us to reposition ourselves and rebuild our technology and product lines. But our strategy and our vision—to take 4G everywhere and to make it available to everybody—remained the same. We positioned our LTE technology, not for the smartphone world that needs 2G and 3G fallback, but for the much bigger world of the Internet of Things that needs 4G only.”

Karam describes this crucial moment in company history—when the bottom fell out of the WiMAX market—as the biggest obstacle he and his team have faced yet. “We had been very, very successful in WiMAX,” he says. “We grew the company to close to $100 million in annual sales, we went public, (and) we raised our market cap to close to $1 billion. And then, suddenly one day we woke up to see our revenue falling to almost zero. I don’t believe there is anything more challenging than this. We were a public company and we had to rebuild the company almost from scratch.”

Karam is most proud of Sequans’ role in not only pushing LTE for M2M and IoT, but driving down the costs and making it happen by creating a viable Category-1 LTE solution for IoT. “No one was talking about Category-1 LTE until Sequans started the conversation, and now, wherever in the world there is discussion about Cat-1, Sequans is involved,” he says. “I was convinced that it is the right approach, which made it possible to convince Verizon, and then to convince other operators in the world that this is the right approach, and now everyone is talking about it. It was right there in front of everyone, but we brought it to the surface and gave it life, transforming the LTE-for-IoT world.
Pioneers_berglundStronger Positioning in IoT
Steven Berglund
Steven Berglund
CEO, Trimble

Having a technology vision and delivering on it is key. In the 16 years since Steven Berglund has been named as president and CEO of Trimble, he has taken the company in a direction that proves he is focused on the IoT (Internet of Things)—and this is having a big impact on agriculture, transportation and logistics, geospatial, government, utilities, and construction, to name a few.

When Berglund joined the company in 1999 as president and CEO he brought 20 years of industry experience, having previously served as president and CEO of Spectra Precision, a survey, construction equipment, and machine control company with 1,300 people.

At the time, Trimble was also heavily focused on surveying as a primarily focus, and had just put GPS (global-positioning system) and cellular communications on a single board. However, since that time, under the leadership of Berglund, the company has made some key moves to position itself as a leader in the IoT. For example, in 2000, the company developed a GPS architecture that uses the host product’s CPU (central processing unit). What’s more, in a not-so-surprising move Trimble acquired Spectra Precision Group, which helped Trimble gain significant resources in positioning technology complementary to GPS, including other lasers and optical devices.

Another huge announcement that helped position the company squarely in the IoT space was Trimble’s acquisition of ThingMagic RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology on Oct. 25, 2010. Since that time, the company has been making big moves in the area of RFID, creating new opportunities for the vertical markets it serves. And this is certainly just one example. Since his time heading up the firm, Trimble has made more than 75 acquisitions. Some might say Berglund has an inclination toward acquisitions, but the moves have generally been strategic in nature.

For example, many of the acquisitions come in the construction industry, as the company looks to piece together a complete field-to-office strategy for the market. The acquisitions have enabled Trimble to provide complete “BIM (building information modeling) to field” solutions for mechanical and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) contractors to automate project estimating, detailing, layout, and construction.

In fact, the company says ‘acquisitions have played a key role in its strategy, principally as mechanisms to establish beachheads in new market spaces, fill in product line gaps, or add new technologies to solutions portfolio. More importantly, continued innovation and industry domain experience are the primary drivers which allow Trimble to focus on organic growth as our principal strategy in our core market segments—engineering and construction, agriculture, the mobile and field workforce, and advanced devices.’

In addition to his experience at Spectra Precision, Berglund’s business experience also includes manufacturing and planning roles at Varian Associates, and he began his career as a process engineer at Eastman Kodak.

Today, Berglund is a member of the board of directors of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Belden Inc., and a member of the board of trustees of World Educational Services. He has transformed a company that began focusing on offering surveying technology to one that has a greater vision for advancing IoT in today’s connected world.
Pioneers_gustafssonBetting Big on Mobility
Anders Gustafsson
Anders Gustafsson
CEO, Zebra Technologies

Sometimes, the biggest risks equal the biggest opportunities. Anders Gustafsson says even though the Internet of Things was a relatively unknown concept in 2011, he and his team at Zebra Technologies recognized its potential to help businesses gain complete visibility into their operations. For this reason, they believed the IoT was clearly the future of the technology industry. In fact, they bet on it.

First, Zebra created an IoT-focused division and IoT cloud platform called Zatar. Then, in 2014, the company acquired Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business—a brave move considering the business division was three times the size of Zebra’s entire company. “Many called this risky,” Gustafsson says. “But I saw an opportunity to break into the enterprise mobile computing space and embrace the connected enterprise.”

Currently Zebra’s CEO, Gustafsson previously held executive positions at Spirent Communications, Tellabs, Motorola, and Network Equipment Technologies. Gustafsson has always seen Zebra’s strong potential in the enterprise and believed in the company’s ability to jump on industry trends to solve existing and potential customer and industry problems. He says: “By coupling Zebra’s legacy barcode and RFID (radio frequency identification) business with the Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business line of mobile computing devices, Zebra can provide businesses with the tools to have complete visibility into their operations.”

So far, the risk has paid off. Zebra is now positioned as one of the leaders in the IoT market, supporting 95% of the world’s Fortune 500 companies with products and services that increase visibility into products, assets, and people. Gustafsson aims to help Zebra help its customers drive new value by taking advantage of three key trends: mobility, cloud, and the IoT. “Our world is changing and there is a great opportunity for us to contribute,” he says. “At Zebra, we help our customers gain enterprise asset intelligence so that they gain better visibility into their operations, improve customer experience and productivity, and most importantly, survive future demands.”

One of Gustafsson’s personal goals is to lead and innovate with perseverance while also building reciprocity and trust. “You can reach a certain level with talent and you get achieve a particular level with perseverance. In order to truly succeed, you have to have both,” he says. “In business, one never has a career or a business that executes flawlessly, so having the ability to dig down deep and persevere is vital.”

A big proponent of teamwork and getting behind the company’s vision to provide visibility, Gustafsson finds his greatest inspiration and motivation is in building teams and growing businesses. He says doing this well requires collaboration, openness to change, and a deep customer focus.

“I am proud of Zebra’s focus and traction around being a leader in enterprise asset intelligence and the first contact for CIOs to call when they need a partner to help transform their business,” he says. “Our solutions today are helping hospitals understand accurate times for critical treatment, enabling retailers to gain insights into their inventories and customer requirements, allowing manufacturers to identify faulty parts to prevent work disruption, as well as realtime tracking of NFL players on the field to enhance the fan experience.”

Thanks in part to Gustafsson’s leadership and innovative thinking, Zebra has become a respected global leader in the enterprise visibility space. His foresight and courage to bet big on mobility and the Internet of Things has helped positioned Zebra among the giants in the technology space.

View the 2014 Winners