The last two years have been pivotal for MOBOTIX, the German IP surveillance manufacturer. In 2016, the company entered into a share transfer agreement with Konica Minolta, a provider of advanced imaging and sensor solutions. More recently, the company has welcomed new CEO Thomas Lausten, who joins MOBOTIX with a wealth of experience from companies including Siemens, ADI Global Distribution and Milestone Systems. The changes have been accompanied by an updated look for the MOBOTIX brand, with a simpler logo and more unified branding across solutions and regions. caught up with CSO Dr. Tristen Haage and CEO Thomas Lausten [pictured left-to-right] to find out what we can expect from the new-look MOBOTIX.

High-quality IP solutions in a commoditised market

With a new CEO and Konica Minolta on board, MOBOTIX is set for expansion on a global scale. But how much growth can we expect for a company like MOBOTIX in an increasingly commoditised surveillance market, where many of the larger players compete on price as a key differentiator? While MOBOTIX respects those players, says Lausten, the German manufacturer wants to tell a different story. Rather than competing as a camera hardware manufacturer, MOBOTIX is increasingly positioning itself as a specialist in high-quality IP surveillance software – camera units are just one part of an intelligent system. When MOBOTIX succeeds in telling this story, partners understand that it’s not about the price. "They stop selling boxes,” says Haage, “and start selling IoT devices."

To this end, the company is deliberately moving away from promoting individual products and features, and instead concentrating its efforts on complete vertical market solutions where IoT devices can add the most value. These vertical markets include retail, transportation, perimeter protection and industry – although the list is set to expand with the addition of Konica Minolta’s expertise.

When you look at companies like
MOBOTIX where there are people
who have been on this ride for years,
it’s clear they are passionate people

MOBOTIX has the potential to stand out in these markets; not only because of the company’s advanced IoT and sensor capabilities, but also because of its famous robustness. In challenging environments such as transportation and industry, MOBOTIX devices are ruggedised to withstand motion and shock, all the while providing reliable image quality and detection with fewer cameras. In the retail sector, MOBOTIX is already working on integrations with Point of Sale (POS) technologies, and hopes to add value for end users by partnering with experts in the fields of analytics and facial recognition. As Haage explains, “Driving innovation is not just about finding the best image resolution. It’s about finding new ways to innovate.”

What makes MOBOTIX unique?

Lausten sees MOBOTIX as distinct within the industry. This is due to the unmatched passion and longevity within the MOBOTIX community. “The passion in this company is unique,” says Lausten. “When you look at companies like MOBOTIX where there are people who have been on this ride for years, it’s clear they are passionate people.” The company has kept this enthusiasm from the beginning, through MOBOTIX’s continuing transformation to its new-look incarnation today. “It comes back to what [Dr. Ralf] Hinkel made: A community of partners.”

According to Haage, this enthusiasm boils down to MOBOTIX’s mission to provide integrators with high-quality, smart products: “The people on the sales team appreciate they are not selling a commodity – not just a camera – but a smart IoT device with German quality, and this is what drives people in the company.”

While MOBOTIX is 65% owned by Konica Minolta, with many other shareholders, it remains an independent company
MOBOTIX is increasingly positioning itself as a specialist in high-quality IP surveillance software – camera units are just one part of an intelligent system

Developing MOBOTIX on a global scale

Might the majority acquisition by Konica Minolta alter MOBOTIX’s distinct “Made in Germany” DNA? No, says Lausten, who wants to reassure partners. While MOBOTIX is 65% owned by Konica Minolta, with many other shareholders, it remains an independent company. What Konica Minolta brings to the table is a financially strong owner who can advise on technology development. By leveraging MOBOTIX’s existing IP technologies and Konica Minolta’s advanced optical systems, the companies can work together to develop Intelligent solutions for specific vertical markets, including perimeter security and healthcare, according to Lausten.

The challenge is to take what is
already great about MOBOTIX –
proven quality, made in Germany –
and develop this on a global scale

In addition to technology advances, the deal aims to broaden the distribution of MOBOTIX products by leveraging Konica Minolta’s global direct sales network and support systems. Although there are no “open doors” between the two companies, there is ongoing collaboration between Konica Minolta and MOBOTIX channel partners. Konica Minolta has a customer-centric approach and good relationships with end users in Europe and beyond, and can share this experience with MOBOTIX and its partners. While MOBOTIX has traditionally had a headquarters-centric approach, says Haage, the introduction of Thomas Lausten and Konica Minolta allows the company to cater to the individual needs of various regions, including the US.

One might expect this increasingly global focus to mean that MOBOTIX will be varying its approach to products from region to region. On the contrary, explains Lausten, the challenge is to take what is already great about MOBOTIX – proven quality, made in Germany – and develop this on a global scale. Unifying the company’s approach globally is the best way to ensure customers’ needs are met efficiently. “When we do something,” says Lausten, “we do it properly.”

Cybersecurity concerns drive innovation

The company’s focus on innovation and quality is increasingly important in a market beset by cybersecurity concerns. Whereas two years ago end users were choosing products based on price, they are now asking whether devices have a back door to cyber threats. "The biggest concern for C-level people is cybersecurity,” predicts Lausten, “This will be a key driver moving forward."

MOBOTIX's quality-driven focus means the company is well-prepared for this change: One hundred percent of software is programmed in-house, with frequent firmware and software upgrades to fix weak points. In the case of a software reset, this can only be carried out by sending the device back to MOBOTIX, which may seem less convenient from an end-user perspective, but significantly increases the security of the process.

In light of cyber security threats, should users be concerned that MOBOTIX is becoming increasingly open to integrations with other video surveillance partners? The company is aware of the concerns, says Haage, and can therefore take countermeasures. While the market today is based upon open systems, MOBOTIX does not take partnership lightly. By integrating with key players only where there exists a synergy with MOBOTIX’s own technologies, the company can work on new aspects such as IT systems and processes, while taking MOBOTIX’s core products to the next level. “You have to comply with industry trends,” concedes Haage, “but that’s not the whole story.”

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