Hughes and the IFBTA

Rob Grimes, CEO of the International Food and Beverage Technology Association (IFBTA) sat down with Tim Tang, Product Marketing Director for Hughes to discuss their involvement in the food and beverage industry and why they decided to become a global industry partner of the IFBTA.

(R) Rob Grimes with the IFBTA and I’m very pleased this morning to be with Tim Tang, the Product Marketing Director for Hughes. So welcome (thank you) and also welcome to Hughes as a Global Industry partner of the IFBTA.

(T) Oh, we are very pleased to participate.

(R) So what brings us here this morning?

(T) We wanted to have the opportunity to talk about what’s going on in the market and try to understand how we can help to basically address some of the big changes we see taking place in the restaurant industry.

(R) But I’m going to guess that most people have some assumptions or thoughts about what Hughes is so maybe we should start at the top with, you know, what types of solutions, what type of product placement is Hughes within the foodservice and hospitality marketplace?

(T) Yeah, that’s a great place to start. The world knows us as these satellite guys. We have been the worldwide market leader for satellite communications for over three decades and that is very much a core piece, and continues to be a very big part, of our business. Particularly in the consumer side of the world and that’s another reason why many people, because of the advertising that they see, will also think and associate Hughes with satellites as well. In the restaurant industry, in the commercial B2B space though, so much of what we do extends above and beyond that. We are a managed service provider and we are looking at providing the infrastructure, the internet connectivity, the security, the Wi-Fi, customer facing as well as employee facing applications to kind of help restauranteurs drive their business.

(R) Now I’m going to guess though that most people would have thought of you as a satellite company and then you throw all the rest of those pieces into it and they sit there and go “well, you know, how are you going to manage infrastructure? You’re just doing satellites.” But in reality, I think you’re talking about becoming the backbone and the enabler of all the different pieces.

(T) Yes it is, and one of the great things is, you know, having that 30-year history of doing satellites has really shaped the company to handle and address a lot of the technical challenges as well as the logistics of managing large scale networks, you know, our largest customer has over 90,000 locations and being able to have that backbone infrastructure from an installation, operation maintenance, field maintenance and call center being able to provide those scopes and services to really support a highly technical infrastructure.

(R) And most of those infrastructure pieces are not necessarily satellites?

(T) No, not at all.

(R) They go well beyond it (absolutely). So, somewhere along the way over 30 years, Hughes has transitioned over from what might have been a satellite company to something much greater.

(T) Yes, over ten years ago, actually, we saw, particularly as the internet has evolved with broadband-type options to DSL, cable, fiber, fast Ethernet, LTE Services, we’ve incorporated all of these capabilities over the past ten years into our commercial business offerings.

(R) So you’ve been attending meetings now for almost a year and is there something that surprised you in some of your conversations with other IFBTA members?

(T)  You know, it is interesting. I think the openness of being able to share, kind of, what the problems are, the frankness of the discussions have been rather refreshing. I think what’s intriguing though, is the intensity of what’s going on right here, right now – that there is so much change going on from the business dynamics perspective, from technology, and even with the customer expectation perspective, too. It’s not only the mobilization but like the “uberization,” if you will, of our society and that’s creating dramatically different business models.

(R) Well clearly, Hughes’s place here, bringing it all together and really looking toward the future – spotting the trends and bringing it forward, you know, gives you that seat at the table, in general, in the industry and certainly a very valuable seat at the table for the IFBTA. So, Tim, thank you very much for the support and I’m glad we’ve been able to talk this morning and learn a little bit more about Hughes and also your own views and insights towards the industry.

(T) Thank you very much.

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