In the Corriere delle Comunicazioni, in the section "Protagonists of the digital economy", the interview with Mario Ciofalo, Chairman of Tiesse S.p.A.
Tiesse routers are increasingly gaining ground in the market despite competition from the American giants Chairman Ciofalo: "Excellent prospects". And after Brazil the company is looking to China and Japan but also to the US and Europe "We are aiming to expand".
It is the mix of connectivity features, certified and approved by TLC operators, and "customised" applications, i.e. developed case by case taking into account the different contexts, which make Tiesse routers unique in Italy.
The company chaired by Mario Ciofalo, also Chairman and CEO of the holding New Venture Development (NVD), the Industrial Development and Management Consultancy company he founded in 1996 - continues to push the accelerator on innovation and research and development and is getting ready for the big challenge of the Internet of Things.
And in the pipeline there is also an internationalisation plan which, after entering Brazil, is focussing on the East Asian markets (primarily China and Japan), but also on the more "traditional" markets of Europe and the US. “The development prospects are excellent", Chairman Mario Ciofalo told Corcom. And indeed it is the "curriculum" of the company which speaks for itself: its customers include Enel, Eni, Lottomatica and a number of other names that cannot be disclosed for policy reasons but which are of great significance and "substance".
"Of the over 400 thousand routers installed in Italy more than 200 thousand are of the machine-to-machine type".
Mr. Chairman, how did you manage to cope with the crisis and above all to affirm yourselves on a market, that of routers, which is dominated by the American giants?
Our history is one of continuous work. We never stopped, and since ten years now we have a well-established corporate customer base. Our offer has been gradually expanded, not only from the point of view of connectivity and technological updating, but also in terms of the content and functionality of our routers, designed for mission critical applications and therefore for large national networks. Our solutions are certified by the Telcos and that's no small achievement because it means that they recognise us as a reliable partner. It is no coincidence that we are often the partner of excellence in many public tenders involving Telcos and systems integrators.
"This year we have made major investments in smart grids and won a big contract"
The Internet of Things is hailed to be the next revolution. You are in fact already working on it.
Certainly, we are very present in the machine-to-machine market, alias the Internet of things. In practice we are able to equip our routers with a specific application functionality that allows equipment and devices of various kinds to be controlled, such as smart meters but also other remote control and remote management platforms. In 2015 we made major investments in the field of smart grids: our devices, in addition to sophisticated connectivity functions, are able to ensure the functionality of controlling immission of electricity into the grid, thus unifying the whole process. In this regard, we have been awarded a major contract: at the moment I cannot reveal the details but I can say that it is a strategic contract in the smart grid field that will make people talk about us.
"As was the case with the other standards, we will be the first to arrive on the market with 5G routers"
What kind of developments do you expect on the M2M front?
The machine-to-machine market is expanding, especially where there are networks of equipment, devices and functionalities that need to be managed and controlled in the manner typical of their application. Bear in mind that of the over 400 thousand routers installed in Italy, more than 200 thousand are of the M2M category, i.e. they combine connectivity with specific functionalities.
Of these, about half concern the control of video games, a good part the energy world and the remainder areas such as industrial plants, but also aqueducts and other situations in which control activities are crucial. And, by the way, we are now in the second generation of M2M routers: customers who had installed our solutions in 2004 have re-awarded the contracts to us and we have won new tenders, competing with the big, typically international players, demonstrating that ours are high quality solutions.
With regard to the financial results, what is the situation?
Turnover is constantly growing and EBITDA, for the past 10 years, has been oscillating between 15% and 23%. The company has a solid equity and is financially self-sufficient, thanks to our long-standing policy of reinvestment of profits".
You are preparing to expand abroad, what is the roadmap?
For now our expansion plan in South America is continuing: we have a partner in Brazil that operates in several countries and is working to disseminate our solutions throughout the area. We are looking with interest to China and Japan: we are discussing with potential distribution partners on which we are counting a lot, but we are still in the initial stages. Subsequently we will look to Europe and the United States, because it is important to consolidate our presence globally and operate in the most important and competitive markets.
And on the technological innovation front, what are you working on?
We are working with the Politecnico di Torino on certain advanced technologies on which they have excellent skills. We have put together a joint team that is dedicated in particular to software solutions defined as next-generation networks. We invest heavily in research and this has always allowed us to be the first to launch new routers: this was the case with 2G, 3G and 4G. And with regard to LTE, we have carried out trials simultaneously with those of the Telcos.
Will you also be the first with 5G?
Certainly we are aiming at this goal and I am sure that we will be ready at the time, as happened with the other standards. We interact with the suppliers of the basic components in order to be ready when the time is ripe.
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