Sam Kingston, Mobica: On standing out in a crowded IoT industry


Fin is a former junior editor at TechForge.

Mobica CEO Sam Kingston recently sat down with IoT News for a deep dive into what distinguishes Mobica’s Talent-as-a-Service offering within an increasingly crowded tech sector.

IoT News: What distinguishes Mobica’s offering from a typical tech recruitment firm? 

In today’s fast growing tech space, we’re witnessing a burst of innovations, almost on a daily basis. Companies House figures show a huge 38,200 tech start-ups registered in 2021 in the UK alone. More often than not, the innovations grabbing the tech industry headlines are heavily focused on software or apps but the opportunity for innovation is broader than that – and there is plenty of room for new ‘game changers’. 

This is where Mobica comes in, offering TaaS (Talent-as-a-Service) to an industry where tech is changing at such a pace and with excitement. On-device development can often be overlooked, but the Mobica team is seeing real competitive edge. Our talented engineers help to build and implement software that combines the physical and digital worlds, creating a pioneering journey for our customers and of course, their end user.

We know that on-device development is our sweet spot, it’s a focus we’re proud of. And while it may not be the area of tech that gets the most attention, it has the ability to drive real commercial difference in our clients’ products – whether that’s making their new, or existing, tech work smarter, faster or simply easier to use. Underpinning that is Mobica’s vision to build products and services ready for tomorrow’s world. We know exactly what we stand for, and we will give the same response next year, the year after that and for many years to come. For us, it’s about looking ahead to the future with innovative solutions and services, not just jumping on the latest tech trend. It is this clarity and absolute confidence over how we add value that has given Mobica’s skilled team the crucial foundations to build success, and is testament to the rapid growth we have achieved over the last 12 months. 

As part of the company’s vision, we truly empower our staff. Working with some of the biggest brands in home automation, the automotive industry and social media, each an incredibly exciting sector in its own right, discretion is often key. We’re able to offer our skilled engineers as an extension of our client’s organisation, complementing their in-house talent or taking ownership of the project delivery in its entirety.

Ultimately, it’s about collaboration and responding to client needs. This bringing together of skills and ideas is particularly critical at R&D stage so we can be involved from the very beginning and make informed recommendations. We’re proud to say our talented team thrives on those cutting-edge projects that make a difference to the way we live our lives. A great deal of this comes down to the long-standing relationships we have built with our clients, many of which have been with us for 10 or 15 years. It’s no surprise then that our employee retention rate matches this, it’s a reflection of the team and their continuous hard work.

IoT News: What’s an example of a recent success story in which Mobica helped an IoT company? 

We recently worked with A-SAFE, a family-run manufacturer of industrial-strength safety products based in Yorkshire and over the past 20 years, they had built a reputation for having invented the world’s first advanced polymer safety barrier. 

Fast forward to 2019, A-SAFE identified an opportunity to increase their market share over the next century which is where Mobica came in. We understand the need for an accelerated but also planned digital transformation within a manufacturing business, without causing too much havoc to disrupt teams and systems in their day to day work. This is a common challenge and pattern we see with company’s but it’s the role of TaaS to make sure everything runs smoothly.

The ultimate goal was to provide A-SAFE with faster and more efficient ways of managing their daily needs. This included a robust sales cycle, communication to their global client base and slick operations as well as everything in between. We were able to pull together a core team that worked in an agile environment to support A-SAFE’s technical director. 

We definitely expect to see more of these types of requirements and relationships develop over the coming years within the manufacturing industry, as more companies recognise a need to shift. While this can be approached with some caution, the obvious advice is to at least start to consider it otherwise there is a fear of being left behind as others continue to innovate within their sector. 

IoT News: As a company with its fingers in so many pies, where do you see IoT’s current place in the broader technology stack? 

Broadly speaking, there is an increasing connection between consumer demands and a need for these to be met, or at the very least recognised, by the industry. This has resulted in a boom in Industrial IoT. What this means is that we’re seeing the manufacturing process being continuously refined, with more learning being applied to technology – and that learning being applied far quicker than even just a few years ago. 

Taking the automotive industry as an example, the cycle of car models was typically set at eight years but this is significantly reducing, especially with the introduction of electric vehicles, because an eight-year cycle doesn’t leave much room for agility or responding to consumer desire. Companies are better at recognising innovation and have clear outcomes, which is where Mobica comes in by helping businesses to make this a reality. We are able to provide the software engineering and development capabilities that align, respond and react to the industry by employing digital ingenuity. 

This is part of our business ethos. As CEO, I know we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket, and as an operator within the tech industry, we must be agile and prepare for the movement of goal posts. Mobica will respond to changes and support our customers, while keeping close to the market, particularly pre-empting what clients may ask for in technology skills.

If I had a crystal ball, it would probably reveal that ‘Industrial IoT’ will be supplemented, or possibly even led, by biotechnology in the near future. Why? Because of the speed. 

The increasing use of tech and smart devices on a daily basis subsequently brings a need to be able to manage or provide the necessary functionality too but with minimal intervention from either the company in charge of the device, or the end user, and as quickly as possible. Ways in which we might see biometrics leading the way could see brands or businesses adopting more facial recognition, retina, voice recognition, AI and fingerprint technology within product controls. For example, many cars are now being fitted with Alexa connecting car to home – but it comes down to the software that will deliver it successfully, whether it is voice or fingerprint recognition. Another example is Google Thread, which is bringing connectivity to fashion through clothing where users will benefit from embedded electronics. 

Underlying all of this is the absolute need for security for the end user, which goes hand in hand with the software required to enable any type of connective device. To enhance this, users may be required to verify their biometric data with a complimentary form of unique evidence, acting as a two-step authentication method.

IoT News: How do you anticipate the IoT industry will evolve over the next five years? 

This might sound a bit clichéd, but a great deal of this really comes down to strategy and operational management. At Mobica, if we didn’t have confident leaders, supporters and decision-makers, our business focus could become somewhat confusing especially as there’s always a new and exciting opportunity to consider or coming in our direction. So, we’re not afraid to say no from time to time because it’s more important we get it right. This is how we’ve maintained our customer relationships for several years.

There is always an element of risk vs. reward. As an organisation built on the Industrial IoT, it’s also our responsibility to think ahead. Yes, we live in the here and now, which is changing frequently with many exciting projects to deliver, but it’s the role of our entire staff as innovators to ask questions such as, ‘What’s next?’, ‘Who is the game changer?”. We encourage and empower all employees to bring their ideas forward, it’s never about secret conversations behind closed doors at Mobica.

While we have our sectors of focus, we can see there are ‘ones to watch’. We’re seeing an increased consumer demand for automation wherever possible. Automation is rapidly becoming the fabric of our everyday lives, with focus and discussions already on ‘next generation’ products and services – it really is all about tomorrow. This goes hand in hand with Industrial IoT. 

Home automation is only going to continue to drive demand, with household names bringing even more automation and intelligence to devices that the everyday consumer will benefit from. PayTech is also on our radar. These traditional ‘service industries’ are now taking users into a world of Industrial IoT. Finally, wearable devices – and we’re not just talking about watches. It won’t be long before ‘fashion meets functionality’ as manufacturers offer usability through wearable devices such as sunglasses. 

IoT News: How has holding board positions across numerous global IT organisations shaped your approach to leading a business servicing the tech industry? 

It has made me completely fearless – not being afraid to make big decisions quickly to spur growth. Having joined Mobica in 2020, I immediately pulled together a strong senior management team to drive the business forward and prepare for rapid growth – this was the aim and we have stuck to it. We rebuilt the organisation top-down in a year. While we remained loyal to the original strategy, this was an opportunity to introduce more experienced people to implement the operational elements of that strategy – driving the company forward. As a result, company goals were established and because of this, the execution of the strategy and expansion of the team has been possible. 

Mobica has also responded to market movement within the tech industry. This is not solely based on our services, roadmap and clients but certainly in the people we recruit. Without the team – our ‘Mobicans’ – nothing would be possible. Our team is critical to the overall personality and culture of the organisation, and as CEO, I take a great interest in making sure everyone is motivated and supported by the leadership team. 

Connecting this team has been crucial at board level when it comes to shaping the company both in the physical and remote sense. Similar to many other businesses, Mobica also offers hybrid working but there is no requirement for people to attend routinely. The office space is still available as an option and we have adapted accordingly. We are also fortunate enough to have a globally connected team that operates 24/7 with office spaces in several countries, as well as our own infrastructure and internal comms enabling us to service our clients wherever we are. It’s important to ensure company culture and initiatives are present, and led by employees. A fantastic example of this is Mobicans unanimously and proactively coming together in support of their fellow peers in Ukraine as the conflicts began. Employees across every country we operate in raised money to support our Mobicans in Ukraine and this is a project that is still ongoing. We have a tremendous Mobican community, fully backed by the company. We’re fully invested in our talent by genuinely making Mobica an exciting and thriving place to work. 

Want to learn about the IoT from industry leaders? Check out IoT Tech Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London.

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