Motorola Wants You to Know It's More Than Just Cell Phones
It’s focusing on developing devices for police.
Greg, when people hear the name Motorola, they think cell phones. But now you're in this business of equipping police and fire departments and first responders with things like body cameras, high-tech telecommunications gear. Is public safety now the new growth paradigm for you? It is. It is. So think Motorola Solutions as mission critical communications. Well, as you know, we live in terrible times. And the public is demanding a lot of transparency and accountability with police and fire departments. And so in some ways, this is a positive trend for a company like yours, right? It is. So people want a more constructive relationship with local law enforcement. You're right. Unfortunately, a lot of the things that are going on in society today are tough. So local law enforcement wants the best communications tools. They want the best things that make them productive. For officers, they want eyes up, hands free, to deal with crime in a constructive and productive way. And we're supplying these products and solutions that allow them to do that. What are some of the new gadgets that are coming through? Because we hear things like smart belts that tell you know when you take a gun out of your holster and smart glasses. I mean, what are the Motorola engineers working on? Body-worn video, sensors on a holster. We just invested in a venture capital company called Neurala, which is edge image recognition. So if we have a composition of a bad guy in midtown Manhattan in a red baseball cap and a blue fleece, we can load that information, have this company search massive big data databases, and bring it back, and isolate that individual, and deliver it to that specific police officer. And just about every company these days-- and not just tech ones-- are using or talking about getting into virtual reality, artificial intelligence. And I know that you've been moving into that area as well. To what extent will that technology make a difference in this whole area of public safety? I think it will be pretty substantial. So if you're a police officer, you don't just have voice recognition of what you're coming into. Maybe you'll have a video feed. Maybe you'll have building schematics. Maybe you'll have situational video that comes on a special purpose device that tells you, even though you're a mile away, what you're coming into. So it's the combination of mission critical communications and mission critical intelligence. And we expect to lead in both. How do the police forces react to all these new gadgets, this new technology? They'll welcome it, if it's easy to use and intuitive. So body-worn video-- we don't have a body camera that's separate. We embed it into the speaker mic. So it's one less gadget for them to manage. Certainly, this is a very fast growing field. And you have competitors coming into it. I know they're a lot smaller than Motorola Solutions. But some of them could be potential disruptors. How are you staying ahead of the competition? That's a great question. I mean, we have the established competitors. But you never know which company is formed out of their garage or which startup comes out of Silicon Valley. So we keep our ear to the ground. We invest a lot of venture capital in startups to capture that ideation that we may or may not be thinking about. We're continually staying close to our customers in ride-arounds with customers, so they identify their trends and needs. And we continually have a healthy level of paranoia. And what are you doing to get your employees behind this innovation push so that they are trying new things and taking more risks? I think employees are coming to Motorola Solutions because we have a new corporate location. We're downtown Chicago. It's much more vibrant, less bureaucratic. We're hiring more software people, less hardware people. And we launched a strategy-- in innovation office where we're spending tens of millions. And we don't expect anything in return. It's OK to take a risk. It's OK to spend money on an idea. And it's embedded within the overall strategy of the firm. How's it working out so far? Fantastic. We moved the company about eight or nine months ago. If I had one thing to do over again, I would have done it sooner. We're getting 7 and 8x the interest on a job application. Marketing, sales, software design-- I think we're hitting our stride in the transformation this company. I really do. It's exciting.