Thursday, March 18, 2010

When Satellite Goes Mainstream

Of all of the meetings I lined up at the Satellite 2010 conference this week perhaps the one I looked forward to most was my sit down with Toni Lee Rudnicki, iDirect’s Chief Marketing Officer.

My firm – Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) -- had found great success working for Toni Lee at a prior company where she also served as the executive marketing leader. She is well qualified in strategy and tactics, and has the remarkable ability of building a strong sense of team spirit among employees and external consultants.

Soon after joining satellite broadband infrastructure vendor iDirect, the company was sold to Singapore Technologies Engineering in a $165M transaction. Admittedly, I thought iDirect’s freedom to execute entrepreneurially would be consumed by this global conglomerate.

It was quite clear during my catch-up with Toni Lee that my assumption was quite inaccurate.

So, what’s new at iDirect?

This past January the company announced its own acquisition of network management software vendor Parallel Limited. Parallel’s SatManage solution is delivered via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and provides iDirect with a high value piece of intellectual property.

“The hardware and infrastructure that comprises the network continues to become more of a commodity,” Toni Lee said. “The addition of SatManage to our portfolio is part of our strategy to differentiate iDirect from other vendors.”

Toni Lee also explained that iDirect has focused its marketing and messaging at business decision-makers (rather than a technical audience) with the goal of making satellite and its applications more mainstream.

She cited the federal government market as an industry where the company has gotten considerable cut-through. “US federal is now nearly 33 percent of our total revenue,” she said.

Much of this government business has been driven by the introduction of new solutions such as a portable backpack-based “Manpack” VSAT system. It allows military personnel on the ground to have communications access anytime and in any location.

This post was first published in Strategic Communications Group's (Strategic) "What's New at Satellite 2010" blog.

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