Interview with Globecomm CEO Keith Hall
The New Era at Globecomm
- 1. December will mark the one year anniversary of Globecomm’s sale to Wasserstein. You said then that it would be a “year of positive change” for the company. With nearly one year behind you as the CEO, where would you say Globecomm is with regard to its new strategy?
We knew where we wanted to go and fortunately we had a great team and a great foundation built over many years to provide the base to get us on the right path.
The key vision driving the changes over the past year is that we believe firmly in our vision as it relates to the world of ‘Big Data’. We all live in that world now, and it will impact our business. As we continue to move up the value chain from being a provider of global broadband transport to one that can provide a suite of ‘data’ management and logistics services, we needed to carefully align our strengths around growth areas. You will see this reflected in our M2M offerings. It plays to our strengths because we engineer networks that ‘talk’ to each other. This component is only going to grow larger and more relevant in every vertical.
What was new is that we had to take a disciplined approach toward building an organization to execute on our strategy. We are well on the way. That is the good news. The reality is that change is a process and one that does not come easily to most people. So it is my primary responsibility to get everyone onboard and motivated about our new direction. I will be cautiously optimistic here and say, “so far, so good.”
We had a very good start to the fiscal year, remain on plan for the year and I look forward to announcing some major deals in the coming quarters.
- 2. One of your key initiatives has been the development of focused market verticals. How is that going?
Focus is the operative word. We wanted a unified vision of the company with the aggressive development of market verticals at its core. My assessment early on was that there was something missing in the way we performed business development. Over the past year we developed a very comprehensive and aggressive go-to-market strategy. Verticals that are focused on a front-end customer relationship, which also allow us to build a pipeline for additional business is paramount to future success. We are now looking at how the products will perform as they make their way into the hands of the entire group of verticals. Ultimately, Globecomm’s customers will decide.
The cross-vertical strategy is to ensure that we are streamlined and can sell technology solutions; engineering services and whatever products and services we innovate into the market across our entire global organization. This is the key differentiator from the past.
We are currently focused within Media, Wireless, Maritime. Enterprise, and Government but we see how we can expand to other verticals in the future. In fact, the Maritime vertical will be bundled into a ‘super vertical’ called Transportation. It will incorporate other verticals, such as resource extraction, where we can expand.
The Government sector is one I get asked about often. When we look around at the competitive environment and how companies have dealt with the (USA) government sequestration and the contraction of business in theatres of conflict, I like where we now stand. We are coming out of this upheaval much stronger. This was a concern because of the degree of government business that we had. The early results are positive and among the reasons is a focus on products like our interactive video service Tempo, which is getting traction within the Enterprise sector.
- 3. Globecomm has several subsidiaries including ComSource, which many people may not be familiar with. Can you tell us a little about these Globecomm companies and how they fit into the overall picture?
The addition of ComSource has been paramount in our transition up the value chain as a managed services provider. ComSource allows us to add value and create ROI models for our customers. It integrates us more deeply into their business in a positive way. Referring again to the data-centric model, the applications here are quite expansive and varied. They could be a speed variance application for a transport company, for example, or a cyber-awareness app for a utility or a point-of-sale tool for a global retail company. When you consider the data that is flowing across networks, our ability to engineer them with an additional ability to develop customized applications gets us pretty excited.
A key to success is to make sure that we move these offerings and a familiarity of them to existing accounts across the company and our subsidiaries, be they Globecomm South Africa (formerly EVOSAT) in Joahnnesburg and Cape Town, or our Telaurus R&D facility in Germany. We are a global organization and I believe this was something that one year ago we were reluctant to leverage fully.
- 4. On the broadcast and media side there have been some big deals which represent many of Globecomm’s strengths. Can you discuss what Globecomm is doing here?
Because we have such deep expertise as a satellite company, broadcast media distribution was always something we kept a close eye on. We were among the first to see that the media industry was going the IP route. So we were at the forefront with IPTV and OTT solutions. This market is changing quickly. Content is still king, but the “king” must be a modern ruler! With multiple delivery options for video content you have an ‘extreme sport’ for our engineers. They must develop increasingly complex networks and make them work around this market evolution.
Our M2M focus ties to this because virtual machines and the cloud are convergent elements for IP-based content. Being able to provide our suite of data management products, especially in areas such as network security, is a big advantage. Our broadcast expertise allowed us this year to go into areas that are not traditional broadcast areas, but have similar characteristics. We have a range of projects underway worldwide where we not only deliver content, but originate it. For example, we have non-broadcast projects in Indonesia and another at a university in the USA. While the word “broadcast” means something different than before, we continue working on a major project for a blue chip broadcast network that will have implications for years to come.
- 5. You said that despite all of the necessary changes, you wanted to remind people of Globecomm’s legacy. What did you mean?
What makes Globecomm a great company is the degree of talent that runs throughout our 400 plus employees.
We have always had great technical expertise. This is our heritage and remains our pride and strength. I believe that when people hear the word Globecomm they think of this. Our goal going forward is to coordinate all of this and apply it throughout our offices in The Netherlands, Hong Kong and the Middle East. The power of unity and a common vision are what take companies from good to great.
I have been here a long time and I always knew we were talented. Our ability to innovate and re-invent ourselves as the world changes cannot be accomplished without the creative minds of our talented employees. Getting everyone in synch is extremely powerful and important as we head into 2015.
So, to summarize, I will say that one year after the acquisition the overall picture looks good. Very good.