Is Landers Ready to Steer the Multi-Tech Ship?

They say change is good. And sometimes change at the helm is very good. At least that is what Patricia Sharma is saying as she steps down as Multi-Tech Systems’ CEO immediately and is replaced by former Spectrum Design Solutions founder Rodney Landers. Sharma will move into the role of chairman.

This transition is somewhat bittersweet for Sharma who only took the reins at Multi-Tech after the unexpected passing of her husband Raghu in 2007. At that time, Sharma knew she had to take control to keep the company going even though she knew she didn’t have the innovative vision of her husband. But what she did possess was the determination to make the company that her husband founded continue to succeed. So she kept Multi-Tech in the family.

So in turning the reigns over to Landers, “It’s time,” she says, “for Rod to build the company where we would all like to see it go. We are going back to being an innovative company. The way we were before my husband died,” explains Sharma, who was named one of Connected World‘s Women of M2M earlier this year.

Landers has the credentials, knowing a thing or two about M2M and the Internet of Things. He successfully sold Spectrum Design Solutions to Digi Intl,. in 2008 for $10 million after founding the firm only three short years earlier. Back then, Spectrum’s basic mission was to address problems customers encountered with GSM, CDMA, GPS, WiMAX, Wi-Fi, propriety RF, and other wireless technologies, so it’s no wonder the board and Sharma have given Landers the nod to head up Multi-Tech.

As Landers sees it, “I have a passion for technology and I plan to apply the people to the business problems here at Multi-Tech … This is at the center of my being and I’m in complete harmony.”

Multi-Tech Systems got its start in 1970 by the late Raghu Sharma who had an unique technology vision that has since led the company to be a very impressive M2M and unified communications solutions story that encompasses more than 22 million devices deployed worldwide and more than 80 patents.

The timing of this move is perfect as the industry is ripe for change. This is just one is many market shifts that have been occurring as of late. The market shifts are very dramatic as the M2M space needs to make big moves for all the top 100 companies to remain competitive and to gain marketshare, or else each of these companies will begin to lose serious competitive ground. There is no question Multi-Tech was feeling the ground shaking underneath it and this move will help to strengthen it with partners and customers.

The industry has already witnessed other M2M companies feeling the pressure. For instance, one platform player that had a strong play in the manufacturing segment has already succumbed to market pressure after seeing the writing on the wall, and was eventually acquired by one of the industry’s largest module companies.

So now it will be interesting to see if Landers can live up to all the hype after invigorating employees and partners with his new vision. Part of the new vision includes improving customer service/channel focus, increasing its global presence, and modifying current products while introducing some new ones.

He says, “We will experiment. We will have an experimentation culture …” Only time will tell, but you have to give Landers credit for one thing, he does have everybody talking, at least for now.


Choosing an OS (operating system) is a tricky predicament. Will the OS be relevant for the long term? Are there a large number of apps built for that particular OS? Is the system secure? This is especially the case in the world of M2M and IoT (Internet of Things).

I recently came across a report that points to Android as a leader in the embedded and M2M space. The report from VDC Research—Android in the Embedded Systems & M2M Markets—points to improvements in performance and power consumption, UI capabilities, integrated connectivity, royalty-free licensing models, and lower price points as key drivers for Android in M2M.

Android certainly offers an interesting value proposition for M2M, as it doesn’t have quite as many constraints as Apple’s popular iOS. What’s more, the development community for Android is beefing up as of late, and giving Apple a run for its money. VDC predicts nearly one million developers will be working with Android for embedded and M2M applications by the end of 2015. That prediction certainly points to a greater positioning for Andorid going forward, with Microsoft having the most to lose. But I think Apple might still be a contender.

Let’s look at one market in particular—automotive. Automotive manufacturers face the challenge of determining what type of technology to put in the car, as they need to ensure the technology remains viable throughout the life of a vehicle. And Android is quickly becoming the OS of choice for many connected-car systems. VDC even suggests that while smartphones and tablets will remain the greatest areas for Android-based systems, medical devices and connected-car systems will generate the highest annual growth rates through 2015.

Don’t count Apple out of automotive just yet though. The company has its eye on the connected-car space. The tech giant’s iOS in the Car is a system that integrates iOS devices with the in-dash system. Not yet available, this system could shake up the automotive space, as Apple looks to get in cars. ABI Research even forecasts iOS in the Car will be in half of all in-vehicle infotainment systems by 2018.

Chevrolet already sees Apple as a player in the market, announcing vehicles with Chevrolet MyLink will be available with Siri Eyes Free Integration beginning on the 2014 models. And Chevy isn’t alone. Still, there are others in the space concerned about the challenges that Apple’s iOS presents to M2M and IoT. For example, many of the connected-car features such as navigation would likely be controlled by Apple—something some car makers aren’t willing to give up.

Automotive manufacturers have some tough decisions to make regarding the connected car going forward. These decisions will not only impact internal revenue streams, but also how consumers interact with data in cars for years to come.

And so the question remains: Is iOS or Android best for M2M and IoT? The answer might not be a one-size-fits-all type of solution. Rather, decisionmakers need to keep an eye on the horizon, understand the pros and cons of each operating system, and make decisions for the long term.

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