Vlog: Plextek at Mission Critical Technologies 2018

Nicholas Koiza - Head of Business Development, Security

By: Nick Koiza
Head of Security Business

13th June 2018

Home » Business Development

We’re at Mission Critical Technologies on the 13-14th June 2018. Speaking at the event, Nick Koiza discusses the themes of our stand and his presentation titled, “Developing a strategy for maximising user benefits with critical mobile broadband solutions”. You can catch Nick delivering his talk on the second day of the exhibition (June 14th at 14:30).

Transcript

Hi, I’m Nick Koiza and I’d like to tell you about our plan for Plextek to exhibit at Mission Critical Technologies at the Excel in London on the 13-14th June so hopefully we’ll see you there.

Our plan for the show will be the secure critical communications market, a sector that’s currently transitioning from traditional PMR to embrace the latest in LTE technology. We’ve been addressing this market from several perspectives. Firstly, we’ve been focusing on our customer’s needs in developing next generation LTE devices to enable the users to benefit from broadband data. Secondly, we’ve been designing and supplying safe city IOT solutions, an area where many of our customers from across the globe have benefited from Plextek’s heritage in smart sensors as well as in communications.

Finally, our growth has been accelerated recently as a result of the work we have been doing on disruptive technologies for unmanned systems and automation. For example, we’ve been developing and integrating sensors for UAV platforms for detection and surveillance purposes. We see this area as being hugely significant to the public safety community, particularly with broadband data enabling the emergency services and counter-terrorism officers to gain rapid access to intelligence to enhance their decision-making.

So, we’ll be showcasing all of these areas on our stand, at Plextek stand number 210 and I’ll be speaking on the second day of the conference so we look forward to seeing you there.

We’re at Mission Critical Technologies on the 13-14th June 2018. Speaking at the event, Nick Koiza discusses the themes of our stand and his presentation titled, “Developing a strategy for maximising user benefits with critical mobile broadband solutions”. You can catch Nick delivering his talk on the second day of the exhibition (June 14th at 14:30).

Transcript

Hi, I’m Nick Koiza and I’d like to tell you about our plan for Plextek to exhibit at Mission Critical Technologies at the Excel in London on the 13-14th June so hopefully we’ll see you there.

Our plan for the show will be the secure critical communications market, a sector that’s currently transitioning from traditional PMR to embrace the latest in LTE technology. We’ve been addressing this market from several perspectives. Firstly, we’ve been focusing on our customer’s needs in developing next generation LTE devices to enable the users to benefit from broadband data. Secondly, we’ve been designing and supplying safe city IOT solutions, an area where many of our customers from across the globe have benefited from Plextek’s heritage in smart sensors as well as in communications.

Finally, our growth has been accelerated recently as a result of the work we have been doing on disruptive technologies for unmanned systems and automation. For example, we’ve been developing and integrating sensors for UAV platforms for detection and surveillance purposes. We see this area as being hugely significant to the public safety community, particularly with broadband data enabling the emergency services and counter-terrorism officers to gain rapid access to intelligence to enhance their decision-making.

So, we’ll be showcasing all of these areas on our stand, at Plextek stand number 210 and I’ll be speaking on the second day of the conference so we look forward to seeing you there.

micro-radar

Vlog: Micro Radar for Unmanned Aerial Systems

Peter Doig

By: Peter Doig
Business Manager, Defence

21st May 2018

Home » Business Development

For a number of years now, we’ve been researching the uses of high-frequency mm-wave micro-radar for a number of different applications.

In 2017, we were awarded funding in DSTL’s newly formed Defence and Security Accelerator competition, in which we were able to develop our micro radar system further to enable an Unmanned Air System (UAS) to autonomously provide resupply of equipment from up to 30 km away.

Peter discusses how the technology has developed over the years, our progress within the program and the capability the technology brings.

Transcript

So Plextek have been researching and developing millimetre-wave 60 gigahertz micro-radar technology for the past four years predominantly working with DSTL, starting under their autonomous systems underpinning research program where we developed a radar testbed to prove the utility of the radar to enable small drones to operate in complex urban environments.

This enabled Plextek to then design and build a low-cost compact micro-radar prototype which could be included within the autonomous last-mile resupply program. So under DSTL’s autonomous last mile resupply program, a defence and security accelerator competition, we wanted to assess the performance of the micro-radar mounted on a drone so we undertook a number of trials to measure the performance of the radar against a range of terrain types and objects, including trees, hedges, powerlines and buildings and vehicles.

We successfully demonstrated the ability of the radar to detect powerlines out to 60 metres and vehicles out to 300 metres.

Moving forward, we are keen to work with partners either who are providing a UAV or an unmanned ground vehicle to optimise the radar and its various parameters for the chosen platform and then advance the radar processing to successfully demonstrate the various concept of operations that are required, for example the autonomous sense and avoid, or possibly the need and desire for accurate landing capability where we would look to link the radar with a passive radar retroreflector which could act as a beacon for the solider with regards to his resupply requirement.

However, ultimately there are lots of exciting exploitation opportunities for the radar into different defence requirements and we’re really excited about listening to those requirements from people and working with them to meet it.

For a number of years now, we’ve been researching the uses of high-frequency mm-wave micro-radar for a number of different applications.

In 2017, we were awarded funding by DSTL’s newly formed Defence and Security Accelerator competition, in which we were able to develop our micro radar system further to enable an Unmanned Air System (UAS) to autonomously provide resupply of equipment from up to 30 km away.

Peter discusses how the technology has developed over the years, our progress within the program and the capability the technology brings.

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Transcript

So Plextek have been researching and developing millimetre-wave 60 gigahertz micro-radar technology for the past four years predominantly working with DSTL, starting under their autonomous systems underpinning research program where we developed a radar testbed to prove the utility of the radar to enable small drones to operate in complex urban environments.

This enabled Plextek to then design and build a low-cost compact micro-radar prototype which could be included within the autonomous last-mile resupply program. So under DSTL’s autonomous last mile resupply program, a defence and security accelerator competition, we wanted to assess the performance of the micro-radar mounted on a drone so we undertook a number of trials to measure the performance of the radar against a range of terrain types and objects, including trees, hedges, powerlines and buildings and vehicles.

We successfully demonstrated the ability of the radar to detect powerlines out to 60 metres and vehicles out to 300 metres.

Moving forward, we are keen to work with partners either who are providing a UAV or an unmanned ground vehicle to optimise the radar and its various parameters for the chosen platform and then advance the radar processing to successfully demonstrate the various concept of operations that are required, for example the autonomous sense and avoid, or possibly the need and desire for accurate landing capability where we would look to link the radar with a passive radar retroreflector which could act as a beacon for the solider with regards to his resupply requirement.

However, ultimately there are lots of exciting exploitation opportunities for the radar into different defence requirements and we’re really excited about listening to those requirements from people and working with them to meet it.

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Creating the right culture to unlock innovation

Creating the Right Culture to Unlock Innovation

Adam Roberts - Marketing Consultant

By: Adam Roberts
Marketing Consultant

4th April 2018

Home » Business Development

Having a customer-focused mindset is essential in business today. We all know that if you build differential and customised customer service plans you can increase your loyalty, increase revenues and grow your market share.

However, the most successful brands in the world are doing more than this to stay successful and market leading. Companies like Google, Apple and IBM are applying the same customer-focused mindset to building superior employee experiences (EX). So is having the right employee culture the new competitive edge?

Let’s start with some research. In a recent study by Accenture, companies with highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable than those with poor engagement. Furthermore, leading companies are already realising the striking comparisons between CX (Customer Experience) and EX with 51% of business leaders surveyed planning to create individualised employee experiences comparable to consumer experiences in the next two years.

So employee experiences are important, what does this mean to me?

In order to remain competitive organisations must have employee engagement plans that enhance employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. In doing so, you’ll also promote brand equity, competitive advantage, and sustainable growth. A big part of this, I believe, is creating a culture that unlocks innovation and the keys to accomplishing this are threefold.

Tools to collaborate

Have you ever noticed the technology we use and enjoy at home (in our personal lives) doesn’t always help us carry out the roles and responsibilities of our jobs? Many people find that when they get to the workplace, every app that they have on their phone becomes an unwanted distraction that actually hinders and/or slows them down. Using the right tools enables an open and transparent environment for employees to effectively communicate and work together.

This principle is fully embraced by Google as every employee can view the personal goals and objectives of every other employee. On a similar note, software engineers at Google also get access to almost all of Google’s code on their first day. This might sound a little extreme but by valuing an open and transparent company culture, Google teaches its employees that it believes them to be trustworthy and have good judgment. That, in turn, empowers staff to collaborate as a team to deliver their best work.

Tech SMEs can start to embrace this principle of openness and transparency in their processes by adopting a number of technologies that aid communication, such as open calendar access and/or use of an intranet site or forum. One of the ways we communicate project success at Plextek is through a bespoke project management system where all engineers and project managers can access each other’s workloads. This aids collaboration in meeting deadlines and ease of communicating progress to the rest of the consultancy.

Culture to Collaborate

Create an environment that sparks creativity and innovation. Having rooms and offices that are decorated with pictures and painted with vibrant colours does more than just impress the visitors at the reception desk. There is actually some science behind the layouts of offices and how they can be the catalyst for creativity in the workspace. I’d like to demonstrate this with an office that I’m fairly familiar with – the Plextek office.

We have a completely flat organisation. Directors, Executives, Managers, Consultants, Engineers and Graduates all sit at desks just beside everyone else. There are no pop-up office walls or offices with assistants or secretaries standing guard outside. This means that there are very few barriers to stop people from going to talk to the exact person they need at that moment in time.

It sounds simple I know, however, this physical equalisation, this physical democratisation, makes people at any level feel like their ideas are just as important as anyone else’s ideas. Everyone feels comfortable to speak up and share. We also have a kitchen/coffee point (with a whiteboard) that is placed between different engineering groups. This is another intentional effort to encourage great spontaneous conversation between staff where different ideas and different solutions can take form.

Some of you might be thinking that it is too difficult to implement some of these things into what you already do but the principles are quite simple. Have monthly socials between working teams (we have a Chinese Cook Off and the food is always incredible!), host a running or walking club, whatever the activity may be, it is about creating and having a spontaneous environment for people to come together and cross-pollinate ideas.

Embedding Change

Whatever change your organisation or team is going through it is important to actually make change stick. Teams and organisations not only need to survive with this change but they also need to thrive in it. At the beginning of this blog, I posed the question “What does this mean to me?” and that will be one of the first questions employees will be asking when accepting your change. I believe you must communicate your change to the head, the heart and the feet of your employees to ensure that it becomes part of the new routine.

Head

    Make your messaging for these changes very clear and simple to understand. Customise this message to the different user groups the change will involve and have specific logical reasons that the user can easily consume.

Heart

    Have a carefully picked executive sponsor who is well known and make sure this person is trained on the change, understands it, and leads by example. Promote the desired result in overall company vision and culture with emotion. And if the change is coming from you, make sure you walk the talk!

Feet

    Do they have the behaviours they need? Do they have the training and knowledge required to walk the walk in the new world of your change?


So is having the right employee culture the new competitive edge? Yes, I believe that it plays an integral part (but only a part) of a much bigger shift for businesses in the future. Deloitte are calling this shift “The rise of the social enterprise” and ultimately summarises the need for building superior employee experiences in order to succeed in this new landscape.

“Organisations are no longer assessed based only on traditional metrics such as financial performance, or even the quality of their products or services. Rather, organisations today are increasingly judged on the basis of their relationships with their workers, their customers, and their communities, as well as their impact on society at large — transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises.”

Having a customer-focused mindset is essential in business today. We all know that if you build differential and customised customer service plans you can increase your loyalty, increase revenues and grow your market share.

However, the most successful brands in the world are doing more than this to stay successful and market leading. Companies like Google, Apple and IBM are applying the same customer-focused mindset to building superior employee experiences (EX). So is having the right employee culture the new competitive edge?

Let’s start with some research. In a recent study by Accenture, companies with highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable than those with poor engagement. Furthermore, leading companies are already realising the striking comparisons between CX (Customer Experience) and EX with 51% of business leaders surveyed planning to create individualised employee experiences comparable to consumer experiences in the next two years.

So employee experiences are important, what does this mean to me?

In order to remain competitive organisations must have employee engagement plans that enhance employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. In doing so, you’ll also promote brand equity, competitive advantage, and sustainable growth. A big part of this, I believe, is creating a culture that unlocks innovation and the keys to accomplishing this are threefold.

Tools to collaborate

Have you ever noticed the technology we use and enjoy at home (in our personal lives) doesn’t always help us carry out the roles and responsibilities of our jobs? Many people find that when they get to the workplace, every app that they have on their phone becomes an unwanted distraction that actually hinders and/or slows them down. Using the right tools enables an open and transparent environment for employees to effectively communicate and work together.

This principle is fully embraced by Google as every employee can view the personal goals and objectives of every other employee. On a similar note, software engineers at Google also get access to almost all of Google’s code on their first day. This might sound a little extreme but by valuing an open and transparent company culture, Google teaches its employees that it believes them to be trustworthy and have good judgment. That, in turn, empowers staff to collaborate as a team to deliver their best work.

Tech SMEs can start to embrace this principle of openness and transparency in their processes by adopting a number of technologies that aid communication, such as open calendar access and/or use of an intranet site or forum. One of the ways we communicate project success at Plextek is through a bespoke project management system where all engineers and project managers can access each other’s workloads. This aids collaboration in meeting deadlines and ease of communicating progress to the rest of the consultancy.

Culture to Collaborate

Create an environment that sparks creativity and innovation. Having rooms and offices that are decorated with pictures and painted with vibrant colours does more than just impress the visitors at the reception desk. There is actually some science behind the layouts of offices and how they can be the catalyst for creativity in the workspace. I’d like to demonstrate this with an office that I’m fairly familiar with – the Plextek office.

We have a completely flat organisation. Directors, Executives, Managers, Consultants, Engineers and Graduates all sit at desks just beside everyone else. There are no pop-up office walls or offices with assistants or secretaries standing guard outside. This means that there are very few barriers to stop people from going to talk to the exact person they need at that moment in time.

It sounds simple I know, however, this physical equalisation, this physical democratisation, makes people at any level feel like their ideas are just as important as anyone else’s ideas. Everyone feels comfortable to speak up and share. We also have a kitchen/coffee point (with a whiteboard) that is placed between different engineering groups. This is another intentional effort to encourage great spontaneous conversation between staff where different ideas and different solutions can take form.

Some of you might be thinking that it is too difficult to implement some of these things into what you already do but the principles are quite simple. Have monthly socials between working teams (we have a Chinese Cook-Off and the food is always incredible!), host a running or walking club, whatever the activity may be, it is about creating and having a spontaneous environment for people to come together and cross-pollinate ideas.

Embedding Change

Whatever change your organisation or team is going through it is important to actually make change stick. Teams and organisations not only need to survive with this change but they also need to thrive in it. At the beginning of this blog, I posed the question “What does this mean to me?” and that will be one of the first questions employees will be asking when accepting your change. I believe you must communicate your change to the head, the heart and the feet of your employees to ensure that it becomes part of the new routine.

Head

    Make your messaging for these changes very clear and simple to understand. Customise this message to the different user groups the change will involve and have specific logical reasons that the user can easily consume.

Heart

    Have a carefully picked executive sponsor who is well known and make sure this person is trained on the change, understands it, and leads by example. Promote the desired result in overall company vision and culture with emotion. And if the change is coming from you, make sure you walk the talk!

Feet

    Do they have the behaviours they need? Do they have the training and knowledge required to walk the walk in the new world of your change?



So is having the right employee culture the new competitive edge? Yes, I believe that it plays an integral part (but only a part) of a much bigger shift for businesses in the future. Deloitte are calling this shift “The rise of the social enterprise” and ultimately summarises the need for building superior employee experiences in order to succeed in this new landscape.

“Organisations are no longer assessed based only on traditional metrics such as financial performance, or even the quality of their products or services. Rather, organisations today are increasingly judged on the basis of their relationships with their workers, their customers, and their communities, as well as their impact on society at large — transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises.”

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What start-ups can learn from street food vendors

What start-ups can learn from street food vendors

By: Collette Johnson
Director of Medical & Healthcare

14th June 2017

Home » Business Development

Last year I visited Vietnam and it was a truly captivating country with diverse culture, a great sense of community and phenomenal food. The food and street vendors particularly fascinated me. It was some of the most flavoursome food I have ever experienced, but beyond this, what really struck me was how each vendor ran their business. This made me think of agile start-ups and the difference between those who are successful and those who are less so.

A Vietnamese street food vendor has a basic business model; which is to do one, maybe even two things well and be widely known for these foods alone.  This is one of the golden rules for a successful product business.

Many businesses fall into the trap of thinking ‘more is better’ and within a couple of years of building their platform, they are marketing several other different products with a somewhat mixed message. The customer then loses sight of what the organisation is driving forward and the relevance it has to them.

A company that has not made this mistake is uMotif. uMotif have developed a patient-centred data capture platform for modern research and through investing in significant clinical studies and establishing key relationships, they have now become reputed for this product in their industry. They have also now started to strategically roll out their platform to other clinical service providers on an as-needed basis.

For start-ups out there at the moment, my advice would be to do one thing well, become recognised for this and build your business from there – driving your business in a scattergun approach will lead to a confused message and slow uptake of your product.

When the street food vendors prepared their food for sale, each person carried out a specific role, which they did with efficiency and to perfection. For instance, one would prepare the food, another would be cooking the food and the third person would serve and take the money. Every day these people would take their places and perform their specialist roles in the business – never once deviating from their responsibilities or taking on other roles.

In a similar fashion, some of the most successful start-ups I’ve seen employ specialists to drive the business forward, such as employing a Chief Commercial Officer to drive forward a business’s commercial prospects and actions.

Many start-ups that struggle tend to only have one person that covers multiple specialist roles. Once significant investment and growth are occurring, employ a specialist as they will be worth every penny spent. Without one, your business can feel the strain of becoming too general and not reach its maximum potential.

The most striking thing to me about the street vendors was that every person in the business knew their customer well and, in return, their customer loyalty was outstanding. From what I had seen, I’d say on average 80% of the street vendor’s sales were from repeat business. This funnel of regular customers led to vendors producing their orders before they even reached the front of the queue. It was some of the best relationship management I have seen in a long time and is a really good example of truly understanding your customers’ requirements.

As a start-up, opportunities can come in from all directions and this can sometimes confuse and dilute who the end target customer actually is. It can also distract from the business at hand and disengage those who support the business the most. Focussing on your key customers first will make your business successful in the long-term.

To end on a piece of advice once given to me when I was in Silicon Valley, “Imagine the business is a lion. In order to get a good meal, you need to chase the gazelles and not the mice. The mice will keep you going but they will not keep you full”. It’s the same in business. You need to chase those gazelles, they may take more time and strategic management but they will sustain you as a business for longer.

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Last year I visited Vietnam and it was a truly captivating country with diverse culture, a great sense of community and phenomenal food. The food and street vendors particularly fascinated me. It was some of the most flavoursome food I have ever experienced, but beyond this, what really struck me was how each vendor ran their business. This made me think of agile start-ups and the difference between those who are successful and those who are less so.

A Vietnamese street food vendor has a basic business model; which is to do one, maybe even two things well and be widely known for these foods alone.  This is one of the golden rules for a successful product business.

Many businesses fall into the trap of thinking ‘more is better’ and within a couple of years of building their platform, they are marketing several other different products with a somewhat mixed message. The customer then loses sight of what the organisation is driving forward and the relevance it has to them.

A company that has not made this mistake is uMotif. uMotif have developed a patient-centred data capture platform for modern research and through investing in significant clinical studies and establishing key relationships, they have now become reputed for this product in their industry. They have also now started to strategically roll out their platform to other clinical service providers on an as-needed basis.

For start-ups out there at the moment, my advice would be to do one thing well, become recognised for this and build your business from there – driving your business in a scattergun approach will lead to a confused message and slow uptake of your product.

When the street food vendors prepared their food for sale, each person carried out a specific role, which they did with efficiency and to perfection. For instance, one would prepare the food, another would be cooking the food and the third person would serve and take the money. Every day these people would take their places and perform their specialist roles in the business – never once deviating from their responsibilities or taking on other roles.

In a similar fashion, some of the most successful start-ups I’ve seen employ specialists to drive the business forward, such as employing a Chief Commercial Officer to drive forward a business’s commercial prospects and actions.

Many start-ups that struggle tend to only have one person that covers multiple specialist roles. Once significant investment and growth are occurring, employ a specialist as they will be worth every penny spent. Without one, your business can feel the strain of becoming too general and not reach its maximum potential.

The most striking thing to me about the street vendors was that every person in the business knew their customer well and, in return, their customer loyalty was outstanding. From what I had seen, I’d say on average 80% of the street vendor’s sales were from repeat business. This funnel of regular customers led to vendors producing their orders before they even reached the front of the queue. It was some of the best relationship management I have seen in a long time and is a really good example of truly understanding your customers’ requirements.

As a start-up, opportunities can come in from all directions and this can sometimes confuse and dilute who the end target customer actually is. It can also distract from the business at hand and disengage those who support the business the most. Focussing on your key customers first will make your business successful in the long-term.

To end on a piece of advice once given to me when I was in Silicon Valley, “Imagine the business is a lion. In order to get a good meal, you need to chase the gazelles and not the mice. The mice will keep you going but they will not keep you full”. It’s the same in business. You need to chase those gazelles, they may take more time and strategic management but they will sustain you as a business for longer.

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Cambridge, UK – 23rd November 2016 – Plextek are proud to announce the appointment of Nick Koiza as our new Head of Business Development for the Security market. Nick will be responsible for strategic development and management of this key area of Plextek’s business.

Nick has a long and successful track record across worldwide security & public safety sectors and has held senior management positions in public and private companies spanning IT, technology and communications. During recent years, he worked at Sepura Plc, Portalify Oy and Simoco Group, where he developed a strong reputation as a leading authority in secure critical communications.

“I am delighted to be joining Plextek at this very exciting time and look forward to building on the company’s incredible achievements in the Security sector. Plextek has enjoyed huge success across a wide range of technologies applicable to my market; in areas such as communications, radar, sensors and imaging & surveillance.  It’s my mission to ensure that customers across the globe enjoy the full benefits of Plextek’s multi-disciplinary approach to highly innovative product conception, design, manufacturing and supply.”

Nick’s role at Plextek will focus on government and commercial security markets. He will also forge alliances with organisations that desire to innovate from concept to commercial readiness, in order to gain significant advantage when taking products to market that meet the highest standards of robustness, reliability and ease of manufacture.

Cambridge Wireless, a leading technology community, has welcomed Nick into his new position by awarding him the title of “Special Interest Group (SIG) Champion” for Security. As a SIG champion, Nick will be providing thought leadership and chairing CW sessions that lead the discussion in identifying new areas of innovation for security technology.

Nicholas Hill, CEO, Plextek commented: “We are delighted to have secured Nick to lead our security business going forward.  His strong background in secure critical communications, both in the UK and overseas, will be immensely important as we grow our presence in this area. I look forward to working closely with Nick as we continue to develop our unique capabilities in bespoke solutions for the security sector.”

Notes to editors

Based near Cambridge, UK, electronic design and product innovation consultancy, Plextek specialises in solving complex engineering challenges for customers in a range of key markets including defence, security, medical and IoT.

In business for over 25 years, Plextek’s capabilities range from innovation and concept development to product and system design and equipment manufacture and supply. Other core areas of technology expertise include embedded solutions; sensor systems; RF systems; signal processing; and artificial intelligence and data analytics. By efficiently using a broad range of skills, Plextek delivers innovative solutions that meet the highest standards for robustness, reliability and ease of manufacture.

Trusted by organisations worldwide, Plextek’s team deliver maximum value and competitive advantage from its clients’ investments in technology.

For more information call us on 01799 533200 or email: press@plextek.com