Pipeline Profile: Lind Hutton
SCTE member since 2005 Title: Executive Vice President and COO, Mintek Mobile Data Solutions Broadband Background: Hutton has been with Mintek, founded by his father, since 1991. He has 15 years of sales experience in the cable industry. How difficult is it to focus on three different industries: lodging, government and cable? It is not necessarily that difficult. Our solutions address asset problems, and they are not specific to any one industry. That said, we do have experts in our company who specialize in each industry because there are some differences in each vertical. Are they so different? Is any of the technology duplicated across the industries? No, from our perspective, the industries really are not that different. Yes, the technology is duplicated. We use the same hardware and software. How did you get into the cable industry? We were initially a vendor that sold hardware to a local cable company. We supplied them with hardware for an application they developed. That local company was acquired by Time Warner Cable, which asked us to develop an application to help them manage converter boxes entering and leaving their warehouses. That application, now known as SETS (Subscriber Equipment Tracking System), has been installed in more than 370 warehouse locations across North America. Those locations feature more than 700 SETS installations. Today, in addition to converter boxes, SETS also tracks modems, telephony equipment and much more. Does cable still have a problem with disappearing assets? Yes, it does, but not in warehouses that use SETS. Industry studies have shown that those warehouses not using SETS generally experience an 8 percent to 10 percent inventory loss each year. In those using SETS, loss rates can be as low as zero to 1 percent. We have no competition when it comes to SETS. The large majority of cable companies—Time Warner Cable, Adelphia, and Comcast—all use SETS. What kind of wireless technology do you use? We use 802.11 and Wi-Fi. SETS is a real-time wireless application that uploads information in a batch process. We are exploring new and different ways to use wireless technology. Have cable warehouses become more efficient over the past five years? I can only speak for warehouses that use SETS, but they certainly have. Operations definitely have become more efficient. Those companies that have used SETS would have a difficult time going back to a manual operation. What’s the latest in bar code technology? What is new are the various products that utilize and scan bar codes. Numerous pocket PC platform devices that scan bar codes and collect data have entered the market. There is a lot of talk about RFID tags replacing bar codes, but cost, for the most part, is still prohibitive. How critical are tap audits to cable’s technical operations? What’s your role? Tap audits are essential. They are directly related to monitoring unauthorized hookups. Our tap audit solution enables companies to get through far more audits per day than manual systems. One of our new customers is in a market with 10 percent unauthorized users. When we implement our tap audit system there, we anticipate that many of those unauthorized users will become customers. Our role is to provide an application that enables a company to efficiently monitor unauthorized hookups and create new sales opportunities at the same time. What are the industry’s biggest challenges from your perspective? There are a lot of challenges on the security side. Cable theft has become more sophisticated. Our tap audit system goes a long way in reducing active and passive cable theft. In addition to security, the industry’s biggest challenge is to keep up with the rapid growth of technology. Our challenge is the same. At one time, we were big advocates of devices using Palm OS technology. Now we have to be aware of all of the competing technology available as well. Our goal is to offer the industry the most cutting-edge technology available.