Hello, everyone! Welcome to another #pAutomator interview here at Visaya. This time we talked with Valério Galeazzi, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Novus Automation. He has more than 20 years of experience with automation and instrumentation and will be sharing some of his insights and experience with us.
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How did your career in process automation develop?
I started in the information technology field. I did my first internship at a company called Edisa, which developed computers and bank automation. At that point, I had no knowledge of PLCs (programmable logic controllers).
My next internship was at BCM Engenharia. This company had a structured text language (STL) in Portuguese for PLCs. That was my first real contact with the process automation world. I also developed projects using the Elipse SCADA software. After some time, I started working at Elipse. I entered as a support technician and left as a sales director.
A major change happened in my career in 2015, when I was offered the position of National Market Director at Novus, and I’ve been here ever since.
Would you say that people who work with control systems sometimes don’t understand what’s happening in the field?
I would say so, out of my personal experience. I got a better understanding of hardware only when I started working at Novus. Before that, I knew only about PLCs and connectivity, as I had to set the communication for various instruments. I didn’t have an exact idea of how they worked or any of this side of field life.
And for sales, do you believe you need more technical knowledge than sales skills or a mix of both?
This is a great question, because I’ve worked with all types of sales teams. The more technical person ends up getting lost in the details and sometimes loses the sale. On the other hand, a vendor who has only sales skills can have difficulties when talking to a customer with deeper technical knowledge.
So, I would say that a mix of both is best. And it’s very hard to find this type of professional. The good ones are already employed!
Okay, you were a marketing manager. How is marketing structured at Novus?
Basically, we have 3 main pillars. The marketing intelligence team does the market research. The product team, which are also our product managers, of course, does the product. Finally, the communication team does the publicity, promoting the brand in social media, interacting with customers on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and so on. We also have an external agency for ads in magazines, websites, etc.
While the new generation is used to online sales, B2B today is still very traditional. Do you think we have to find new ways of marketing to address the new generation?
No doubt about it. This is an inbound market. First of all, the new
generation doesn’t like long content. For example, we found out that video content brings more of the younger audience. The traditional sales method has changed.
You can use social media, especially LinkedIn, to understand the type of content that interests your customers. You also have to make use of content marketing, have great articles, etc. Visaya caught my attention for this reason. Your platform has a unique way of presenting technical content.
Vendors in some companies have “number of visits” as a goal. Do you believe that digital marketing will affect offline vendors, regarding number of visits?
Definitely. You won’t have the same volume. At Novus, we still have the visits indicator because the client relationship is still important. At the same time, it’s clearly changing, so we have tools like GoMeeting and Skype. We use them when we can’t schedule a meeting. Here at Novus we are very open to that. It’s not quantity but quality that matters. And it’s important to explore and find new ways to connect with your clients.
How do you see the future of online instrument sales? Do you believe online sales will surpass traditional sales with the presence of advanced technologies like AI?
I believe so. Nowadays, the client has much more information and the ability to buy instruments online with a certain security, even without a technician for support. At Novus, we currently don’t have an online platform, but it is on our road map.
We can’t deny that the digital era has come and online marketing brings advantages. We need to create content that attracts this audience and makes them feel comfortable buying online. However, a lot still depends on the kind of application you use. In more complex processes, nothing can replace a technical consultant.
Where does Novus stand regarding the Internet of Things, a very hot topic at the moment?
Yes, certainly an interesting topic. As a data acquisition company, we are entering this area.
We have a product, the Logbox Connect, which focuses on IoT connectivity. It has WiFi and 3G and supports applications with up to three analogs and one digital input. It stores the data collected and provides it to other applications. One of these applications is the MQTT protocol, widely used in IoT. This device will collect data from sensors and send it to the destination point.
Thus, IoT is present inside Novus. We still have some challenges when it comes to more traditional clients, trying to help them understand that things are changing.
Does Novus have a complete structure regarding application and software analysis, or do you focus on data acquisition more?
We have an outsourced cloud system and a platform hosted on Amazon. Right now we’re more focused on the data acquisition part – instrumentation for IoT with the focus on hardware.
If you notice, many companies focus on the software part of IoT and few focus on the hardware. We’ve had companies such as Huawei and Cisco contact Novus because they have solutions for connectivity but lack the instrumentation. Novus’s strength lies in data acquisition and transfer.
The reality of the industry is that most applications are analog. Do you think that clients understand IoT? Or do you see these companies as just showing off their innovative and modern solutions, when the reality in the field is pretty different?
I would say that a few years ago IoT was a daunting topic. Even now, the majority of clients in process automation still have some resistance to diving into this new world.
Here at Novus we’re hiring IT specialists. Up to this point they only supported the internal company network, but now they help us from the business side, especially in digital security. Having data available anywhere at any moment causes system vulnerability. Therefore, you need to work with professionals in this area to ensure data security.
Do you think that IoT will remain a trend, or does it have a future?
I think it’s real. Every day we have more and more connected devices. We acknowledge that they’re available at any moment and can influence our decision making. So I don’t see IoT as just a trend.
Brazil is looking deep into it. We took part in the IoT Chamber of ABINEE, a chamber working with the Ministry of Science and Technology to create an IoT landmark. The Brazilian government is creating a document that focuses on IoT applications in health, cities, field, and industry. So there are heavy investments in this area.
At Novus, the most common protocol is wireless. How is it being accepted?
In this day and age, it’s well accepted. However, we created our own protocol, which we call ModBus Wireless, similar to ZigBee. It has a robust connectivity and reaches distances up to one kilometer with the 100 milliwatt radio in the 2.4 gigahertz bandwidth. After we broke the paradigm of cables, many applications in the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and other industries have gone wireless.
Do you think Novus should adopt an open protocol? With an open protocol, you could deploy your solutions in networks from other vendors.
We have considered WirelessHART and the ISA100, which I don’t see in many applications. An open protocol is in our roadmap, but it’s not a priority at the moment. Currently wireless is a closed protocol. However, companies such as Siemens and Schneider use our protocol in ModBus, mostly because of costs. We also did an application for Schneider in Jakarta where they use our wireless solution.
What would you say to the newcomers in this segment? Which is the key skill one should have?
Sales professionals in automation should have a good technical background. But pay attention to new sales media, the new commerce formats which big companies use, because traditional methods won’t work anymore.
The professional in the technical field should focus on connectivity and networks to gain good visibility.
In the marketing department, work closely with the audience and understand how to gather data. Also work with inbound marketing, creating content with hidden messages rather than obvious ads.
Follow Valério Galeazzi ,an automation community member,at LinkedIn.