Marketing is made for human beings by human beings – even if it seems to be about businesses at first glance.
MEDIA 7: In 2017, relayr was crowned the hottest IoT startup, and the company hasn't looked back since. What do you believe is your driving force behind your proven track records and achievements?
MICHAL KRAUS: I see two main factors that have led to our success. The first one is our people. At relayr, we have almost 300 highly talented individuals from different backgrounds (corporate world, start-ups) who add value to our company culture. Our people are our "how" - how we are doing things is always highly influenced by our teams.
Our second major factor - our "why" we do what we do - is mentioned in our purpose statement: We are enabling industrial companies to stay relevant. This mission is our drive - whatever we do, we do it for our customers and their advancement, recognizing where they are at, understanding their individual needs, and identifying their potential. That is why we call them partners. Relayr uses a collaborative partner approach to help onboard and guide companies through the challenges of their business transformation journey. The fact that we are combining our thorough comprehension of the apt usage of technology and data with the ongoing development of innovative business models certainly adds big time to the value we have for our partners.
M7: What product marketing-related challenges do you meet every day at Relayr? How do technology and collaboration tools encourage you to defeat these?
MK: One of the key challenges of modern marketing is to target the right audience at the right time. We are operating in a relatively small market - the quality of our marketing, contacts and touchpoints is much more important than its quantity.
Normally, face-to-face contact and personal interaction play a relevant role, especially in B2B marketing. Of course, it is a bigger challenge when personal contacts are limited, and events and trade shows are untenable. But reinvention is one of relayr’s strengths, and there is definitely no shortcoming of creativity in using digital means within our team.
Essentially, we are not positioning ourselves as a company that is trying to sell anything. Rather, we are onboarding and supporting our customers on a journey to higher and much more wholesome, sustainable business outcomes. For that, we use a great variety of tools and skillsets - starting from a consultative approach through collaborative workshops to revenue sharing models.
We have been witnessing a clear trend in recent years: marketing strategies have generally moved towards a clear online focus.
M7: There's a lot of buzz around EaaS (Equipment-as-a-Service) model. Could you please tell us a little bit about that?
MK: Serving as the foundation of the modern subscription economy, the recurring revenue model has become an appealing solution for companies across industries. In simple terms, Equipment-as-a-Service (EaaS) is like Netflix for manufacturing or industrial car-sharing.
EaaS describes a model in which production systems, machines, or equipment are not purchased but are provided by a third-party company for a certain period of time and in exchange for a type of leasing fee. The industrial EaaS model has one decisive advantage compared to the traditional purchase of machines: There are no upfront investments in equipment needed!
By moving away from the limitations of capital expenditures (CAPEX), businesses can benefit from the flexibility of the operating expenses model (OPEX). This leads to stable and predictable financial reports combined with greater cost transparency. With upfront investments being dispensable, the risk of failed investment ceases completely.
Additionally, production companies stay flexible to alter certain aspects within their production chain or products. This is and will be a major benefit, also with regard to growing unpredictabilities in the market, supply chains and demand or other economic, political or societal changes. Normally, such changes would have forced companies to exchange their equipment; with EaaS, they can rely on machine manufacturers to provide exactly the up-to-date machinery they need. I firmly believe that the 'as-a-service' model is the future of industries.
By moving away from the limitations of capital expenditures, businesses can benefit from the flexibility of the operating expenses model.
M7: With your vast experience in developing and implementing marketing strategies - what is the paradigm shift you see in marketing practices today?
MK: We have been witnessing a clear trend in recent years: marketing strategies have generally moved towards a clear online focus. Besides its advantages, this change in focus also creates certain challenges. For example, how do you build strong relationships in a virtual-first environment?
The second shift that I am observing and supporting with pleasure is that more and more marketing teams finally realize that B2B marketing doesn't need to be boring. Attractive design, branding, storytelling, and content are rightfully being recognized as the undeniable asset that they are. In the end, marketing is made for human beings by human beings – even if it seems to be about businesses at first glance.
M7: Last but not the least, few years down the line, how do you see industrial IoT changing the world around us?
MK: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is already changing the way we live thanks to the power of sensors and collected data. Soon this will become even more evident within our homes, the health industry, the transportation industry, etc. Beyond its freshness and current newsworthiness, the IIoT is here to stay.
There are many reasons for this development, but a few things stand out. First of all, the IIoT enables industrial businesses to gather and analyse large amounts of data from and about their equipment's performance. It has already taken predictive maintenance to a new level and allows for an optimization that has never been possible before. Its advancements lead to more efficiency, flexibility, and predictability.
The minimization of risks and maximization of efficiency allows companies to expand or even reinvent their business models altogether. Thus, they become less dependent on suppliers’ performances or market movements in different sectors. Being the source that enables all these possibilities, deciding for IIoT today will be crucial in making companies viable and sustainable for the future.
For me, it is hard to imagine any lasting innovation today, especially when looking at business models for the industry, that doesn’t rely on IIoT. In a way, IIoT will be and is already changing how we define and think about manufacturing.