The growing need for digital transformation across industries is driving market growth, primarily for consolidating technologies. Global cities are making use of cutting-edge technologies to drive economic growth and sustainable developments, transforming themselves as ‘smart cities.’ The growing adoption of connected and managed services is likely to further propel areas of engagement in smart cities, helping them to realize reduction in the digital divide. Smart Connections Consulting, a global strategy consulting and technology solutions firm, has targeted to implement strategies and solutions to serve this need. Bill Pugh, Co-Founder of Smart Connections was with the CEOViews team to share details about how they are accelerating the journey of smart cities.
Idea of Inspiration and mission
Bill Pugh, Co-Founder of Smart Connections has a strong background in delivering Smart Grid, Smart City and loT innovations for more than 25 years. Having worked for Silicon Valley start-ups focused on Smart Grid and Smart City solutions, he realised a clear gap in the approach to enabling these groups to transfer their services to citizens and end customers. This set the ball rolling for Smart Connections. Smart Connections fills the gap of digital transformation by understanding the problem the agencies, cities and utilities are trying to solve and partnering with them to leverage the appropriate technologies to help them realize the desire outcome.
Having its roots firmly planted in delivering solutions in various areas of technology and solution innovation, Smart Connections has a concise yet challenging mission of improving operational efficiencies and creating secure, ethical strategies for all clients and customers.
We look specifically for passion, technical and business capabilities along with a real sense of humor.
‘Smart’ Journey towards success
It has been quite a rewarding journey for Smart Connections so far. Working with standard bodies, consortiums to help shape the delivery of technology has been hugely important. Speaking further about their business journey, Bill said, “Early on we needed to establish a trusted reputation as ethical thought leaders, and I feel that we have done a good job so far. We have implemented solutions that have enabled cities to realize operational efficiencies, leverage data to improve decision making and embarked on campaigns to help bridge “Digital Equity” conditions by partnering with organisations like Elevate our Kids and Global Cities Team Challenge. Ultimately, we recognized that this is not a sprint, it is indeed a marathon, you can’t have a “Smart City” without having a “Smart Grid” and all other areas of interest are derived from that, like, electrification, sustainability, resilience, underserved and unserved communities. As citizens these “Smart” initiatives are things that should not happen TO you rather it should happen FOR you.”
Solutions that add value to client’s outcome KPI’s
Smart Connections Consulting is heavily focused on baselining the goals of our partners/customers. Understanding what problem they are trying to solve, we execute solutions that are measured through holistic KPI’s that are not siloed. This has resulted in Smart Connections finding a number of core areas we have developed solutions for.
Security- Solutions for securing the critical infrastructure as well as data sharing which enables vertically integrated organizations to have control of their respective datasets and share with other organizations.
Single Pane of Glass for network monitoring and management irrespective of the type of networks being used. Smart Connections helps reduce the cost to bring on the next interoperable application and apply rules and policies to reduce the risk of security threats.
Digital Twins for just about any streaming data that requires high levels of visibility and insight.
Connectivity solutions to help solve digital equity initiatives.
Software for utility grid resilience.
Having done this for the last decade, Smart Connections has spun up a full services business that delivers 24*7 monitoring and management for customers.
Innovations with a smarter approach
The approach is to help clients/partners realize their “Digital Transformation” goals. It is not so much about the technology but about understanding the challenges needing to be solved. Our Innovation is in the use of technology, establishing interoperability and flexibility. Smart Connections customizes their core solution elements to deliver on the specified KPI’s with a focus on reducing friction as the partners/clients’ needs, change and growth.
This type of framework requires the understanding of several methods to drive ‘Interoperability’ at a cost that will not break the bank, but inspire further adoption because of the efficiencies gained. Innovation comes from several areas and not just in pure technology.
Inclusive work culture
Smart Connections Consulting is a minority owned company with an inclusive work culture. From the beginning it has been a founding principal of the company to bring on the best talent for any position. Adding to that, Bill said, “We look specifically for passion, technical and business capabilities along with a real sense of humor. Building a great team is about transparency, open communication and allowing all to contribute.”
Smart Connections has spun up a full services business that delivers 24²7 monitoring and management for customers.
What’s different about Smart Connections
Smart Connections Consulting is heavily engaged and working with current and new standards bodies which are pertinent to the market. It is not much of a traditional consulting or service company but brings together a strong mix of technologists, developers and market experts with a broad partner ecosystem. This provides a larger systems approach and sets them apart market wise. Smart Connections is more of a standard based solution delivery organization, actively taking part in industry conferences, looking at new startups and new solutions being offered. The team measures themselves by industry standard implementations, RFC’s and framework best practices. Apart from that, Smart Connections Consulting does not accept proprietary options and all elements of compliance are made part of the delivery KPI’s.
Speaking about the challenges the company face to meet the demands of the dynamic market trends, Bill said, “The largest obstacle we had to overcome was related to navigating lengthy procurement processes, budgets and overall cross departmental communication. These digital transformation programs need to be far more cross departmental and that along with the introduction of new processes, technologies and training takes time. We are in it for the marathon!
Smart Connections Consulting has plans to extend their solutions into several other areas, especially higher education institutions, targeting the use of Open Standard, their own API’s and SDK’s. The company also plans to drive more engagement through their partner ecosystem to create stronger Public Private Partnerships (PPP) for utilities, cities and communities. Adding to the overall vision, Smart Connection will be increasing awareness through training for the new and existing customers and will work to engage in a healthcare digital transformation initiative.
With years of experience in broad areas of technology and solution innovation, Smart Connections Consulting understands the initiatives and objectives of its clients/partners and develops a realistic strategic plan that cut across as many organizations as possible leveraging existing critical infrastructure, process modification and data to deliver the desired results.