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How Qualcomm’s Aware Platform Helps Customers Tackle Supply Chain Challenges

In this Futurum Live! From the Show Floor at Mobile World Congress 2023, I am joined by Rod Forter, Senior Director, Business Development with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. for a conversation about one of Qualcomm’s latest releases: Qualcomm Aware Platform.

Qualcomm Aware Platform, released the week before MWC 2023, is designed to address ecosystem fragmentation and empower developers and enterprises to harness real-time information to accelerate their digital transformation programs. So, what do teams need to know about this new release? That’s exactly what Rod and I discussed.

The conversation covered:

  • A general overview of Qualcomm Aware
  • How organizations can benefit from the platform
  • Key challenges that Qualcomm Aware is looking to solve
  • What industries or use cases Qualcomm anticipates working with after the initial launch
  • How Qualcomm is working with hyperscalers like AWS and Azure

It was a great conversation, and one you don’t want to miss.

Want to learn more about the platform? Check out this article that I wrote, here or read the press release from Qualcomm.

You can view the video of our conversation here:

Or grab the audio on your streaming platform of choice here:

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Transcript:

Shelly Kramer: Hello. I’m Shelly Kramer, principal analyst at Futurum Research, and I am here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which is not a bad place to be. I’m here today with Rod Forter from Qualcomm, and we are going to have a conversation about supply chain management and some of the challenges that a global pandemic has wrought in all things related to supply chain. I think I always look for silver linings arising out of the global pandemic. And one thing is I think that we know that we had some challenges before that now we have no choice but to solve.

So Rod, Qualcomm, one of the things that we’ve seen from Qualcomm is that the company continues to diversify very rapidly, and one big area of focus is on opportunities arising out of the connected intelligent edge. So our conversation today is going to be centered on one of Qualcomm’s latest releases, and it’s the Qualcomm Aware platform, and that is designed to help customers tackle supply chain challenges. So thanks so much for spending time with me today. Talk with us a little bit, if you would, about the Qualcomm Aware platform.

Rod Forter: Yeah. As you mentioned, IoT is a great growth area for Qualcomm as we continue to diversify our revenue base. And as we look at the IoT space, one of the differences from other areas that Qualcomm is in is that it’s highly fragmented. We deal with tens of thousands of customers and we’ve sold hundreds of millions of chipsets in the IoT arena in the last few years. And when we look at our customers, we understand that there’s a significant amount of complexity in just beginning on their digital transformation journey. And you mentioned the pandemic, and I think what that highlighted was companies that are further along in their digital journey dealt with that a lot better-

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely.

Rod Forter: …because they were able to understand where their goods were at any given time, what the condition of those goods were, and to really plan, generate insights based on data, and take action. And so when we look at all of this, the fragmentation and complexity of the ecosystem and the need to diversify and to digitally transform your business, we realize that it was just too complex for folks. And so what we’re trying to do with Qualcomm-

Shelly Kramer: Certainly for an Excel spreadsheet, right?

Rod Forter: Yes, absolutely. And I think too many people still manage their supply chain through an Excel spreadsheet.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely.

Rod Forter: And so what we are introducing at MWC is the Qualcomm Aware platform, which aims to simplify that digital transformation journey for our customers by providing everything that you need to get started. So from a chip set and a device that can help you track and provide real-time visibility, connectivity out of the box, and a whole set of solutions that are tailored to particular segments and industries that allow our customers to understand where their goods are at any given time.

Qualcomm Aware is, while we’re starting in the supply chain place, and that’s what we’re talking about today, Qualcomm Aware to us is much broader. The IoT touches retail, it touches energy and utilities, it touches industrial automation, warehousing.

Shelly Kramer: Cities.

Rod Forter: Smart cities. So for us, Qualcomm Aware is a foundational building block for us to bring solutions to our customers that help them to transform.

Shelly Kramer: Now, I think that, correct me if I’m wrong, I think one of the key parts of the value proposition of Qualcomm Aware is that it’s designed to meet customers where they are on their journey. So you don’t have to be this huge company to be able to use the solution. It really is designed to meet customers where they are. So I think that’s really important.

Rod Forter: It is really important. Folks are at different places in their journey. Companies are of different sizes and have different capability sets. And really, Qualcomm Aware was built to be flexible. It was built to be interoperable with other systems that companies are using today. So a very much an API first infrastructure in that device to cloud mode.

Shelly Kramer: And very developer friendly, which I think is incredible.

Rod Forter: Very developer friendly. So if you think about supply chain modules, for those folks who have moved beyond the Excel spreadsheet and maybe using Microsoft D365 or an SAP implementation, the Qualcomm Aware infrastructure and architecture is designed so that you can seamlessly pull information that is generated by the devices, the Qualcomm Aware devices, into those modules, into that software. So it really provides an easy way for folks to get a complete 360 view of their supply chain.

Shelly Kramer: And isn’t that really what everybody’s looking for?

Rod Forter: Yeah. That really is, and it’s just today, they don’t know where to get started and they don’t know if you think about the complexity of designing a device, getting a chip set, finding maybe a module or getting an ODM to build it, and then you’ve got to get a location service, you’ve got to get connectivity, you’ve got to find an MNO and then a SIM card. So there’s just so much complexity and Qualcomm Aware is trying to abstract that complexity and say it just works.

Shelly Kramer: Right, right. Well, and I think too, part of the smart strategy for businesses today, and not only as it relates to supply chain, but its strategic vendor relationships and partnerships, and you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to build it yourself from the ground up. There are solutions in there that are designed to be integrated and interoperable and all of that sort of thing. And I think that’s the smart path forward.

Rod Forter: Right. Yeah, absolutely. And that applies to Qualcomm Aware from both the product perspective. It’s very flexible and interoperable with what you’re doing. I think it also applies from a go-to-market perspective. We’re very much scaling through our partners and very much anticipating that we’re leaving a lot of room for our partners to capture value. That could be in real time visibility platforms. That could be in the enterprise software space. That could be for our SI partners, for system integrators who need to help folks get started and provide professional services and integrations. So it’s very much the type of platform where that is encouraged.

Shelly Kramer: Got it. So are there some key areas that we’re focusing on today for Qualcomm Aware? So share that with us.

Rod Forter: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We’re focused in the first instance because we need to start somewhere. We have this broad vision for Qualcomm Aware that will touch all aspects of the IoT, but we need to start somewhere. And so we’re starting today in supply chain and logistics and in particular, within in-transit shipments. And why are we starting there? Well, it’s an area we know really well. It’s an area where I think in 2001 to ’22, we sold over 70 million chip sets that made their ways into asset trackers. So it’s an area we know really well. We also know, as you said, with the pandemic, that it’s a key driver today.

Shelly Kramer: When the supply chain is messed up, everybody-

Rod Forter: Right. Everybody saw the pictures on TV of container ships-

Shelly Kramer: The Ever Given.

Rod Forter: …sitting off port. Yeah. So it’s a problem that’s at the top of mind and that really, I think, folks are saying we need to solve this problem, but where do I start? And so we’re focused on that in-transit shipment. And in order to get started, we are actually going beyond just the chip set and we’re actually building some form factor devices. In fact, I’ve got one today, which is a very thin tracker, which is designed for package shipments. And this provides location, regardless of the type of location environment you’re in. Whether you’re outdoors, whether you’re indoors, whether you’re in an urban environment, whether you’re in a suburban environment, we own that entire location stack from the GNSS module to Wi-Fi location, cellular location, all different types of techniques and flavors of that location so that we’re able to basically deliver to the customer the best location at the best power profile in any environment. So we’re really focused on that supply chain and solving that problem as a first step.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah, that’s very cool. Very cool. So talk with me a little bit about your relationship with the hyperscalers.

Rod Forter: Yeah, absolutely. So I think we talked a little bit about how this is a very flexible and interoperable platform. So we’re very excited to have a number of large cloud companies as launch partners, Microsoft, Salesforce, for example. And we really view those, again, as complementary partners for us. Take Microsoft’s D365 product for example. We really see that as a critical piece of the overall puzzle here for the eventual enterprise customers. So we’re working very closely with them, and the system is designed to, very easily via web host, connect to those systems so that if you have a subscription to D365, you can easily view the data off the sensors that’s coming off the devices and sensors in that platform. And it allows you that seamless end-to-end view into your supply chain.

We’re working very closely with the hyperscalers to design all of that interoperability and to ensure that really, whatever you choose to use for managing your actual supply chain in terms of software, that this just works with that. So we’re really excited about that and I think it provides an opportunity for us, as I said, not just on the product side, but on the go to market side. So we’re very focused on working with the hyperscaling partners to help bring this solution to market.

Shelly Kramer: And I think that that’s all part of meeting customers where they are. You don’t have to use this platform or this cloud. I think that’s really an important part of solutions today, is being able to make it easy regardless of where you are, regardless of what other technology you’re using. That’s pretty significant.

Rod Forter: Yeah. I think the key pieces: simple, scalable and secure. So it’s really important to have these simple connections to all of these tools that folks are already using, but you also need to ensure that it’s secure. All of those connections are secure, and you don’t want to exacerbate the fragmentation by having it be completely a free-for-all. You need to control the flow of information very closely. So I think from our perspective, it is about meeting customers where they are and delivering that end to end view.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah. I don’t think there’s any better place to wrap this conversation, Rod, than right here.

Rod Forter: Yeah, absolutely.

Shelly Kramer: I think the only last thing I’ll ask you is if you were talking with somebody who was listening to this, watching this video and going, “Hmm, that makes sense,” where do they start?

Rod Forter: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think an easy way to start is to reach out to a Qualcomm representative, learn more about Aware. You can go to aware.qualcomm.com to learn more about it. There’s a whole landing page, a video, frequently asked questions so you can learn more. And I think it’s really important to think about the IoT market is a very fragmented space, and Qualcomm, I think, is uniquely situated to solve this problem. Leveraging the 70 billion dollars in research and development we’ve done over the years, leveraging all of those technology investments and bringing the scale to solve this problem, and that’s really key. We’re bringing together a huge ecosystem of partners. If you’ve seen the press release, you know just across the board from enterprises to system integrators to ODM partners who can help build the hardware form factors that you need. So yeah, definitely a good place to start is aware.qualcomm.com, but yeah. That’s-

Shelly Kramer: Awesome. Well, Rod Forter with Qualcomm, thanks for joining me today on the Futurum Tech Webcast, coming to you from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In the show notes for this episode, I’ll be sure to include links to get more information. I’ve also written an article that’ll publish later today that will have a whole bunch of information and some of the ecosystem partners and everything else. But with that, thank you so much for spending time with me-

Rod Forter: Thank you.

Shelly Kramer: And to our viewing audience and our listening audience, always great to have you. Thanks.

Author Information

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”

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