Q&8 with Cradlepoint
Q&8 is a recurring series on Blackfoot's blog where we interview our expert partners and employees, asking 8 questions to provide unique insights.
8 Questions & Answers with Dillon Lukehart
Q1: Will you please introduce yourself and your role?
My name is Dillon Lukehart. I am the Partner Account Manager at Cradlepoint for our strategic service providers. And really what that means is my primary focus is our MSPs and our MSOs in the Western United States and helping to enable them and build a practice with Cradlepoint.
Q2: Can you provide a general overview of what Cradlepoint does?
Cradlepoint is the global leader in cloud-delivered 4g, LTE, and 5g wireless WAN networking solutions. So essentially connecting people, places, and things via the wireless WAN to create a reliable, secure, and agile connection for the enterprise.
Q3: What is the relationship between Cradlepoint and Blackfoot?
We are really excited about this new partnership. Cradlepoint's been working the last 18 to 24 months to enable and build out our MSO partners and our MSP partners, and that's where Blackfoot fits. We've been working to help package and provide a turnkey solution for partners like Blackfoot to repackage and sell. And there is no question that there are a ton of synergies between Cradlepoint and Blackfoot, and we think that there's tremendous potential in this new partnership that we're getting off the ground in that space.
Q4: When we talk about the different technologies, what is a common question you hear from your clients and how do you respond?
I kind of have two answers to this question. In terms of a common question that Cradlepoint hears from our clients today, one screams and comes to mind that maybe wouldn't have if you could rewind 24 to 36 months ago. Something very prevalent in today's conversations in the wake of the pandemic and supply chain issues is “when can we receive products?” That is a question that a lot of us are dealing with, and our operations team has done just a first-class job in navigating through this issue for the past few years. And our management team has done a great job of being very transparent and staying ahead of it with our partners and customers.
We have stayed focused on delivering products within a few days. We know there are a few of our competitive products out there being delayed 6, 9, or 12 months. And at times Cradlepoint just, frankly, had to be scrappy to get our hands on components and be able to build. Forecasting's been another big thing for us. All the different organizations within Cradlepoint are working together to stay ahead of the supply chain constraints, to ensure that we're staying on pace and meeting the expectations of our partners and customers for when they need products. I would say that is one common question that's very prevalent in today's conversations.
But maybe more to the technology, we see a lot of questions around 5g, right? That's the shiny new object if you will. The carriers have done a fantastic job of marketing and advertising that. And, if you look at the coverage maps, you’d think 5g is everywhere—in every nook and cranny of the earth—but, there's certainly some more conversation that can be had around that. And that is a conversation starter with a lot of customers and clients out there, talk to me about this 5g thing. What is it going to enable for my business and my organization? What type of speeds are we going to see on the cellular network via 5g?
It's an exciting time and there's certainly a wave being created and a few technologies coming to a head in the wireless WAN, 5g being one of them. And so, like surfing, you want to time the wave right. You want to paddle into the wave. And I think that's absolutely where Cradlepoint is—in a great position to paddle into that wave. And, for any surfers out there, we're at the top of the lineup and it's our turn.
We're really excited about that. And we have set ourselves up for a great conversation with a world-class portfolio of 5g products and solutions that we can speak to. But with that, 4g isn't going anywhere. And so that's also part of the conversation because 4g and 5g connectivity will run concurrently for years to come. Cellular is the future of the internet. The Internet of Things and connectivity is ever important for organizations to function, and cellular connectivity is at the forefront of that.
Q5: How do you go about assessing the needs of a business?
I think something that has aided our ability to assess the needs of a business or of a customer is the structure in which Cradlepoint goes to market. We're a channel-based organization. So, the model is that we have distribution relationships, and then we have partner relationships for our go-to-market. And that has helped us to harness the knowledge and identify best practices across a wide gamut of customer and partner needs to identify the business challenges and efficiently address them. So, through that model, it's kind of helped us to rinse and repeat the right questions to ask or maybe the right indicators to look for when speaking to customers and partners.
I think one example that would be worth sharing is Pandora Jewelry. Pandora is a franchise nationally and is a large retailer out there. We were working with them. They were opening a few different sites and they ran into a problem with one site where fiber wasn’t going to be installed for six to eight weeks. So, a common problem in the retail space, especially, is waiting on fiber circuits to be trenched in—and it takes time, right? It doesn't happen overnight. So, what is the stop gap if they need internet now? They need the ability to connect their organization and run their business.
Cradlepoint was able to step in, in this scenario, and provide what we call Day-1 Connectivity. And we think this is going to be a very relevant and big part of our partnership with Blackfoot and Blackfoot's customers—having this solution ready to assist customers with this sort of problem. In this scenario, being able to deliver internet day one within hours resulted in the store opening immediately and processing orders. And the net for the customer was significant cost savings, just opening on time. And not just the revenue that was generated while open, but also avoiding potential fines. There were contractual agreements with the building that they needed to be open at a certain date. So, the cost savings over that two-month period were very significant.
That scenario happens very commonly. And we are talking with Blackfoot’s sales team to make sure that we're offering this and value to their customers with this scenario.
One more thing I would add is the cool part about Day-1 Connectivity is when Blackfoot gets a circuit in that site, Cradlepoint can be pivoted very seamlessly to failover. So now fiber's primary, and we can pivot the cellular connection, the Verizon or AT&T or T-Mobile network, as a backup. If the site loses connectivity, at times it happens, you seamlessly switch over to the cellular network and then fail back to fiber when it's back up. So, it is transitioned to a different use case—an insurance plan, if you will.
Q6: In your opinion, what is unique to Cradlepoint's approach?
It's a great question and I'm passionate about this one. I think for Cradlepoint it's all about the customer experience. What that means for partners like Blackfoot is it's all about partner relationships. You have a partner account manager—me, right—and a solution architect assigned to your account. And that trickles down to our customer relationships when needed.
At Cradlepoint, we take pride in our management support, our product development, and our customer support. In fact, all our support teams sit in our headquarters in Boise, Idaho. It's not a call center. It's not a third-party support team. They all sit on the same floors of the building as our engineering and product teams that had a hand in designing Cradlepoint’s solutions. Our marketing team is the same. We take pride in really designing our solutions, hearing and valuing customer feedback, and implementing that into the future and into our roadmap. I think it's helped us to tailor our offerings to what the customers need, not to what we think they need. We hear straight from the horse's mouth as to here's the problem that we're seeing, this is what we're running into, and this is what we need a solution for—and that's what Cradlepoint is focused on developing and implementing.
Cradlepoint is committed, to leading the evolution of the wireless WAN—that’s 4g, LTE, and 5g—and we're both the first and the best choice for customers in this space.
Q7: What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is really the people. I have a heart for people, and I have something kind of special to say about Blackfoot because I also really see them in this special realm. I've been a part of Cradlepoint for eight years. And our CEO for the entire time has been George Mulhern. His motto is: Stay hungry and humble, or you will be. Cradlepoint continues to embrace that philosophy. It's not just a cute phrase; it's a vibrant light that shines through from the top down within our organization and creates a collaborative work environment that is focused on helping not just our employees, but our partners and our customers to elevate one another.
There's something special about being a part of a winning team. And there's more to winning than just wins and losses in those columns. Winners have a certain attitude, right? There's a standard that they hold themselves to. And it was undeniable as we began our partnership with Blackfoot that from the top down, from the CEO down, it is the same culture.
It's a very special feeling and it's undeniable as soon as you walk in the door. That blue-collar mentality is not about pointing a finger, it's about lending a hand. It's about elevating each other within an organization, elevating your customers, and your partners. That's what makes it fun to come to work and what makes it fun to work in partnerships like the one that we're beginning with Blackfoot. It's just an exciting place to be.
Q8: What’s the single most important takeaway from our chat today?
I think the most important takeaway for me from today is just a lot of excitement. There's a lot of energy behind this in the marketplace. The technology refreshes, that trend that's happening right now, it's one of the biggest in the last decade! The wave of 5g and the data plans that carriers are coming up with behind it as 5g continues to build momentum, and the wireless WAN connectivity component—these are the three legs of the stool, all working together in creating a very big movement. There's a lot of momentum being generated, and I think that Blackfoot’s customers, for instance, will continue to expect continuous connectivity to run in all aspects of their business and their organization. Wireless WAN will continue to become more prominent. It’s helping companies stay agile and secure and it’s going to become ever-important to stay ahead of—and Cradlepoint is committed to assisting in that.
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