Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

Cherie Howlett

Cherie has over 15 years’ experience in IT marketing and was promoted to Head of Marketing for MDNX post purchase of Griffin. She was Marketing Manager for 5 years and Head of Marketing for Griffin for 2 years setting up a marketing department and strategy for connectivity, data networks and cloud-hosted solutions. During her time at Griffin, the company won 7 Channel ISP of the year awards, 5 Sunday Times Tech Track 100 awards, 2 Deloitte Fast 500 EMEA awards, 1 Deloitte Fast 50 award and 1 Channel Expo award. Cherie built brand awareness in the channel from 0% to 95% using an integrated strategy consisting of online, print, electronic and face to face marketing. Cherie had previously spent 2 years in a Marketing Manager’s role at Pipemedia before it sold to Business Serve in 2006. At Pipemedia she built a VoIP brand called PipeCall using a combination of PR, direct marketing and an online ordering and provisioning portal with plug and play hardware and electronic point of sale units. Cherie’s early career was in International Marketing working for software house AceCad Software and IBM in the European sales division.

Recent Posts

What is the LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area) opportunity?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 16-Dec-2020 11:23:25

MSPs specialising in transport, logistics, utilities and the public sector already have strong relationships with well-known brands in these sectors. They could also be meeting the LPWAN requirements for metering, tracking and monitoring by working with the right wholesale partner.

LPWAN enables IoT connections for remote battery-powered devices such as smart meters, containers in logistics, or critical infrastructure like fire hydrants in cities. IoT Analytics report that in 2020 this market reached 423 million IoT connections and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 43% to reach 2.5 billion IoT connections by 2025.

NB-IoT is a low power wide area network (LPWAN) technology. Narrowband Internet of Things is one of the new breeds of Low Power Wide Area Network (LP-WAN) standards.

It has been developed for devices which have a long battery life. It provides long range communication, with the ability to connect a wide range of assets.

Gas and electric companies are installing hundreds of thousands of smart meters, which require a low power SIM on a long-term contract. Usage is minimal, costs are a few pence per SIM, however the contract length is typically 5 years plus.

To win the business MSPs need to be able to control vast numbers of cost-effective data SIMs over long periods of time.

Jola

Jola is an award-winning, channel-only supplier of business communications, specialising in mobile data SIMs. We are a global eSIM MVNO, providing innovative IoT and mobile data solutions to MSPs, ISPs, IT Support companies and Telecommunications Resellers.

Mobile Manager is our online management portal for ordering and managing estates of mobile data-only SIMs, as well as Voice and Data SIMs. This white label portal communicates in real-time with multiple 4G networks and can be used by both resellers and their end users. Mobile Manager handles SIM activations, ceases, suspensions, reports, alerts and bolt-ons.

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Topics: LPWAN

LPWAN - what’s the opportunity for the channel?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 09-Dec-2020 13:21:49

LPWAN opportunities are hidden mobile data SIM gems nestled in the customer bases of resellers and MSPs. End-users are going to the networks directly for LPWANs instead of going to their trusted MSP but are disappointed by the lack of control MNOs give them over their SIM estates. These deals can be to supply thousands of devices on long-term contracts and are low-hanging fruit for MSPs with existing relationships and control panels.

Who uses this technology?

It is being used in street lighting, smart bins, smart parking and traffic monitoring, as well as parking sensors. Their devices don’t need much power and have a long battery life. The SIMs required for these smart solutions are low-cost, long-life SIM cards, which can be activated and controlled within a central portal.

This technology is also being used in the consumer space with smart metering. Gas and electric companies are installing hundreds of thousands of smart meters, which require a low power SIM on a long-term contract. Usage is minimal, costs are a few pence per SIM, however the contract length is typically 5 years plus.

Warehouses are adopting smart technologies and there are opportunities for resellers to supply LPWANs in warehouse monitoring, within safety devices such as cameras in lifts used by lone workers washing windows at height and in cranes.

In agriculture, LPWANs SIMs are being used in monitoring devices for animals, crops and soil. They need a SIM card with the same lifespan as their device.

What are LPWANs? 

LPWAN stands for Low Power Wide Area Network. LPWANs are used to deliver IoT connectivity at low cost, over wide geographic areas, often where there is no local power source, so battery life becomes key. LPWAN deployments are often simple and cost-effective, due to device design and long battery life. With efficient power consumption and battery lifetime of up to 10 years, management costs are low.  It also delivers the added benefit of deep penetration into areas such as basements and underground car parks. The protocols used in LPWANs provide much better wireless penetration so it is possible to get a signal where a standard 3G or 4G SIM wouldn’t be able to.

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Topics: LPWAN

Making Connections

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 09-Dec-2020 13:11:49

Generating leads and winning new business is a challenge, made harder by current market conditions and strong competition. There is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy, but there are things you can try, to develop a strategy that works for you.

The Dream Scenario

A unique proposition which meets a growing need, better than the competition, that cannot easily be copied and can be easily promoted. The reality is that in most growing markets there are global brands competing for business, who have bigger advertising budgets, larger development teams and better pricing. Your job is not to compete head-to-head, but to find your own niche, targeting business not well served by your competition. The companies who require a personal service and who want to build long-lasting business relationships. To do this you need a strong proposition, pricing, service wrap and an excellent team.

Continuous Process

The first thing to consider is a continuous strategy. Successful lead generation campaigns cannot be achieved overnight. It takes hard work, dedication and conviction. New business should not be something you think about when times are hard and ditch for the next new idea.

Knowing your audience

This is the key to success. It is easy to buy a database and throw out a few campaigns, easy to pick up the phone and cold call a few new prospects or send bulk connection requests on LinkedIn. The challenge is understanding who you are talking to, their needs and your ability to meet them. By spending time, not just cleaning your database, but researching your contacts, you can tailor your approach. By ‘knowing’ instead of ‘guessing’ what their current issues are (and they are different at different times and levels), you will be more successful crafting your messaging and planning a strategic campaign to highlight your own unique solutions.

Working together

By joining up your sales and marketing strategies and getting your teams to work together, you will be much more successful. Marketing conduct desk research to understand prospect profiles, but sales actually talk to the audience and have a better understanding of customer needs. By feeding information back into the business you may be able to change your approach. If you share a CRM system with other teams and implement a strict process on documenting market intelligence in the system, each department has the information they need to craft competitive propositions and compelling campaigns.

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Unlimited Mobile Broadband for Homeworkers

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 02-Dec-2020 11:33:51

Unlimited data SIM cards have been available for a while. They are great for homeworkers, who don’t want to worry about how much data they are consuming each month. MSPs prefer to buy wholesale packages fit for purpose, they can control.

Jola

Jola supplies unlimited data packages, fit for purpose on 30-day contracts that will work on 5G, where available. They are keenly priced and designed to work in routers and M2M devices.

Jola offers a range of affordable, intelligent routers, available to order in Mobile Manager. Devices arrive pre-configured with the Jola App, allowing auto-configuration. The premium models also feature Smart Roaming Technology.

Suitable for mobile broadband and large scale IoT roll outs, our routers run a unique operating system allowing Apps to be installed alongside the core routing software. There is a range of off-the-shelf Apps that add additional capabilities. A Software Development Kit is available and open to enable third-parties to develop their own applications. To help accelerate IoT projects, Jola can develop Apps on a consultancy basis.

In Demand

Demand for unlimited data SIMs is high at the moment, as is demand for 4G routers. Jola resellers enjoy an uplift in revenue and margin.

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Topics: 4G, JolaMobile, mobile broadband

4G for Back-up

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 02-Dec-2020 11:26:59

Retailers like supermarkets, department stores, restaurant chains and petrol stations are creating private networks to carry financial transactions over IP, from multiple POS systems, often favouring SD-WAN networks with 4G back-up. Depending on their size and the complexity of their requirement, they typically choose a trusted supplier, with experience rolling out and managing solutions in their sector.

 

Customers

They are not sure which network is best in each location, when the 4G back-up will be used and how much data they will use. Sending engineers to site to establish the strongest signal is a time consuming and expensive exercise. In addition, they regularly receive high data overage bills, which can be as much as tens of thousands of pounds a month.

MSPs

Managed Network Providers are experienced at designing, rolling out and managing solutions however many have struggled with managing multiple in-country 4G suppliers, with multiple manual ordering processes and a lack of visibility across the SIM estate. They have no direct control over SIM assets and cannot aggregate data across countries.

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Topics: 4G, 4G Back-up

Why are there so few female MDs in the channel?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 25-Nov-2020 13:43:15

As a Director of a channel-only business, I am often asked why there are so few females in senior positions in our sector. It is a hot topic and something I have wondered about many times.

Some say the problem starts at school with fewer females being encouraged to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. According to recent UCAS data provided by HESA, 35% of STEM students in higher education are women and only 15% are studying computer sciences.

Others say recruitment is a problem, that not enough females are applying for advertised roles in our sector. 2019 Workforce statistics state that there are now over one million women in STEM in the UK, however the proportion of tech roles filled by women has flatlined at 16% since 2009.

So, what is going wrong? Why are we attracting fewer women than other sectors? Is it our recruitment policies? Or is it something else entirely?

Is there a myth surrounding our industry that you have to be a techie to be involved in it? Or are other sectors more appealing to women?

Maybe we should also look at promoting the opportunities available in our sector to students, apprentices, graduates and professionals in other sectors? Could we do more to mentor and promote those we attract? By working closely with CEOs/MDs/CFOs/CTOs/CMOs could we develop a more diverse management team?

The channel is made up of technical and sales professionals growing their own businesses. Many developed their careers at large telcos, others have only ever worked for themselves.

Looking at the marital status of individuals running organisations across all sectors, many are married with families. The majority have someone at home they can rely on to support them.

Maybe we should be looking at work/life balance and shared responsibilities at home to achieve equality at work. Maybe this shift would help avoid burnout and improve decision making, resulting in more profitable businesses and happier home lives across all sectors?

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Topics: Business

Digital Signage

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 25-Nov-2020 13:31:09

Demand for digital signage is increasing in the run up to Christmas, with many supermarkets investing in digital advertising solutions in their stores. Digital advertising boards require 24/7, reliable connectivity that can be rapidly deployed. Typically the advertising screens belong to a third party who are unable to use a fixed broadband connection. MSPs are looking for mobile broadband solutions they can control and manage across multiple sites.

Jola’s Solution

Jola offers a unique solution for MSPs which includes intelligent routers with a wide range of data connectivity options. Jola’s portal, Mobile Manager, gives MSPs the ability to order and manage mobile SIMs and eSIMs globally.

Jola is a global IoT MVNO, providing the UK’s first multi-network eSIM to the channel, offering the best possible service in any location. Our eSIMs offer value for money and have a UK IP address.

Jola’s Intelligent 4G Routers are designed for mobile broadband and large scale IoT rollouts. Devices are pre-configured with the Jola App, allowing auto-configuration. As a result, there is no need for manual configuration on site. Routers can be delivered to store, ready to install, saving valuable time and set-up costs.

To bolster security, Jola can add additional safety measures, to prevent a third parties accessing the routers. Firewalls can be implemented to restrict WiFi connected devices from reaching router management interfaces, whilst leaving the router able to reach the internet. Secondary Ethernet interfaces can be enabled for router management, so the only way to access the router GUI can be via a connected LAN cable. We can also hide the SSIDs to ensure routers are not receiving constant connection requests by third parties over WiFi.

Jola has partners deploying pre-configured, intelligent 4G connectivity for digital signage in stores all over the UK and Europe, negating the need for site surveys and manual configuration.

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Topics: 4G, Intelligent 4G Routers

What is the Internet of Things Market (IoT Market)?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 04-Nov-2020 14:10:29

The Internet of Things is an innovative automation and data analytics operating system that captures networking, sensing nodes, big data, and artificial intelligence, to deliver complete orders for service. IoT systems have applications across industries through their unique flexibility and ability to be suitable in any environment. They enhance data collection, automation, operations, and much more through smart devices and powerful enabling technology. The IoT key features are the use of Artificial Intelligence, Connectivity, Active Engagement, and Small Devices.  The core benefits offered are improved security, flexibility and compliance. The potential is not just allowing multiple devices simultaneously but leveraging the enormous volumes of actionable data that can automate different business processes.

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Topics: IoT

Physical versus Virtual Events

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 04-Nov-2020 13:57:24

As a channel, many of us are missing the personal contact we are used to with colleagues, suppliers and customers. Some of us are really missing our exhibitions and awards evenings, as they are a chance to network and celebrate together.

The reality is that due to current local restrictions, many of our events are now virtual.  

From a marketing prospective there are pros and cons of both virtual and physical events for organisers, sponsors and attendees.

Physical Events

Attendees commit their time and expenses to attend. They have a reason to attend, something to research, people to meet and plan their time accordingly. Exhibitors know this and make themselves as visible as possible to meet as many prospects as they can, to recruit new partners and win new business. Organisers put the work in to bring this all together, providing educational seminars and sponsorships to deliver on requirements for both parties.

The great advantage of physical events is the face-to-face time spent with new resellers. Resellers can provide a quick overview about their requirements, get a feel for products and pricing and even see a quick demo of a portal. Suppliers can quickly establish needs and the size of the opportunity and decisions to proceed or dis-engage are made there and then. These face-to-face meetings can also happen over coffee, lunch or even in the bar, where direct questions are posed and answered, saving time on both sides.

The exhibition environment provides resellers with an education on current opportunities and the ability to compare potential suppliers in one afternoon in quick succession. Exhibitors get a chance to showcase their USPs and to talk more around the current opportunities and successful use cases they have been involved with.

Virtual Events

These events require less commitment and can easily be missed if something else comes up, especially if they know recordings may be available post-event. As attendees have not travelled and left the office for a day, they can easily get distracted with other business.

That said, virtual events are a great way of learning about market opportunities and comparing suppliers without leaving your laptop. You don’t need to worry about travel time or lunches, you are able to arrange quick meetings virtually, without leaving space in-between to find your next meeting.

For suppliers, the obvious difference with a digital event is costs. Physical events tend to cost more, but don't underestimate the cost of hosting a digital event.

You can speak to your audience without leaving home and don’t require an exhibition stand or merchandise. You also have the opportunity to gather further information from your attendees, such as engagement and can track poll question results and questions posed.

From my prospective, both types of events have their place but there is no comparison to being in a room full of your industry peers. The relationship building you can do face-to-face is valuable and much more difficult to achieve in the same timescales virtually. I look forward to getting back to live events but in the meanwhile am grateful for the opportunities to speak and meet with resellers virtually.

With any event, the more you put in, the more you get out.

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Topics: marketing

The importance of maintaining good company values

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 14-Oct-2020 11:36:15

Having clear company values helps to ensure that employees are working towards the same goals. Corporate values shape company culture and impact business strategy. They help to create a purpose, improve team cohesion, and create a sense of commitment in the workplace.

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Topics: Business

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