Keeping Complex IOT Subscriptions Simple for Customers With Samsara CPO Jeff Hausman

Subscriptions are going beyond software, content, and community, and increasingly are providing access to the physical world. The internet of things lends itself well to providing subscribers’ ongoing benefits, blending data from sensors and cameras with sophisticated software. This type of subscription can be complex to build, but has to provide value that is simple for subscribers to understand.

My guest today, Jeff Hausman, is the Chief Product Officer at Samsara.

Samsara provides an integrated subscription-based platform to increase safety, efficiency, and sustainability in the physical operations world. Think trucks, cargo, oil fields, and construction sites.

I invited Jeff to talk about how his team uses customer input to develop his product roadmap, how they bundle hardware and software to deliver on their forever promise, and how they’ve partnered across the ecosystem to keep things simple for their subscribers.

Listen to the podcast here

 

 

Keeping Complex IOT Subscriptions Simple for Customers with Samsara CPO Jeff Hausman

 

Subscriptions are going beyond software, content, and community, and increasingly are providing access to the physical world. The internet of things lends itself well to providing subscribers’ ongoing benefits, blending data from sensors and cameras with sophisticated software. This type of subscription can be complex to build, but has to provide value that is simple for subscribers to understand.

My guest today, Jeff Hausman, is the Chief Product Officer at Samsara.

Samsara provides an integrated subscription-based platform to increase safety, efficiency, and sustainability in the physical operations world. Think trucks, cargo, oil fields, and construction sites.

I invited Jeff to talk about how his team uses customer input to develop his product roadmap, how they bundle hardware and software to deliver on their forever promise, and how they’ve partnered across the ecosystem to keep things simple for their subscribers.

 

 

Robbie Baxter: Jeff, welcome to the show.

Jeff Hausman: It’s so great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Robbie Baxter: Let’s jump right in. Talk to me a little bit about what Samsara does and what problem they solve for their customers.

Jeff Hausman: It’s great, Robbie. What Samsara is doing is we’re trying to digitize what you call the world of physical operations. Our goal is to help those types of customers operate more efficiently, sustainably, and safely.

And what do I mean by the world of physical operations? Because this isn’t necessarily an area that’s been served often and well over time by technology. This involves organizations that provide critical services like transportation, construction, waste management, and field services. A lot of times, these are businesses that kind of keep the world of operations and sort of the physical plant of the world running. And by the way, they make up about 40% of US GDP. Our goal is to help make them more efficient. I can get into that maybe a little bit about what do we do and what aspects of things that we do. We are helping our customers with three things. One, we have what we call a connected operations cloud, and this is a suite of solutions that our customers access via web or mobile interfaces to help them understand and get value out of things, such as vehicle, telematics, driver safety solutions, or equipment monitoring.

Samsara’s Vision to Digitize Physical Operations: We collect trillions of data points annually through our IoT hardware sensors, which feed this information to the cloud. Here, we analyze the data, extracting valuable insights for our customers.

 

Then what we’re actually doing to help serve those solutions is having a whole set of IoT hardware sensors that are collecting data in real-time and they are providing all of this data. This is trillions of data on an annual basis. Then they get up to a cloud where we can then analyze that data, provide insights and actual insights on that data. So the customers can take that data and then use it to make those better types of decisions.

Robbie Baxter: I’m interested because you talked about garbage, cars, and trucks. Can you give me a couple of examples of how you’re making them more efficient? Where are they inefficient? What would be an example of a problem that one of those very large groups might be having?

Jeff Hausman: Sure. In fact, I’ll go back a little bit to the history of the company to answer that question, which is kind of interesting. Our founders and co-founders, Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket,  started looking at how you could take IoT devices and data and help customers. And so they came out with a temperature control sensor. And they took that to a local food company, and they thought, “This is going to help the food company ensure that all of their food is properly refrigerated and transited to stores and whatnot.” It’s going to help maintain sort of the temperature of what they call the cold chain of custody.

We rely a lot on the customer feedback loop and one of the things we realized was that a bigger challenge was not necessarily maintaining the constant temperature of the vehicles, in this case that were transporting the food, it was actually reliably tracking where those trucks were and how they were being run. For instance, could we actually help them be able to interface and share with their customers? When are deliveries going to show up, or what route are you taking? And how are you running the vehicle? Are you running the vehicle while you’re idling the vehicle for excessive amounts of time and wasting fuel, which is a very large expense in a lot of these physical operations environments? So things like helping them find ways to cut and reduce costs with waste, helping them find ways to understand how to operate things more safely. Those are some of the key examples of types of things that we’re helping with.

Robbie Baxter: Okay, these organizations have a lot of assets out there, and they don’t necessarily know where they are or how they’re being used. Kind of from point to point. What’s so interesting about that story is that it sounds like Samsara’s first product was not the right product, and Samsara is a very successful company.

You talked about customer feedback. How did they find out that the cold chain wasn’t as difficult? They said, “No, that’s actually not the problem. The problem is, where’s the truck?”

Jeff Hausman: First of all, we still sell temperature sensors. But I think one of the most important points and the question is we really pride ourselves on digging deeper, asking the customer, and understanding how do they operate.

Are they using pen and paper processes? Do they have blind spots, how are they running, and where can we help them by getting and collecting information and turning that information to gold for them to make better decisions? That’s what this is all about.

We may talk about this later, but it’s been a bit of an underserved market. So going in and literally taking the first solution to that customer, watching them, and going in and seeing, we can actually monitor the temperature. That’s great, and seeing that it didn’t have a lot of variation, and sort of variability when it was being delivered says that’s maybe not their biggest and hardest problem. But then, when you saw the fact that customers would call and say, “Where’s my vehicle?” Then you start to think, “Wait! Actually, that may be a bigger customer satisfaction problem.”

We just make sure that we understand and learn about how customers operate then use that to go figure out how we can unlock with data. Basically, the sort of outcomes that are going to give them value. Click To Tweet

Not only do you know where these vehicles or these various different assets are, but, to your point, how are they actually being run? Do you know how much you’re spending on maintenance, on preventative maintenance as opposed to letting things get to a point where it becomes a major issue, or, as I mentioned, on fuel costs? So we just make sure that we understand and learn about how customers operate then use that to go figure out how we can unlock with data. Basically, the sort of outcomes that are going to give them value.

Robbie Baxter: You said you do that with sensors and technology.

Jeff Hausman: We have a wide variety of different types of IoT devices. We have devices that we call gateways that you can put on. You can put them on assets, trailers, or vehicles.

We have cameras. Those cameras can be one-way or bi-directional cameras. Those can be put in vehicles. We have cameras that we call site gateway that can be physically mounted cameras, and so much more. We have probes that help you understand whether doors are open, what the temperature is, etc. We have a whole host and a whole platform of different kinds of hardware devices that are being used to collect the data that is then ultimately delivering what the real value is, which is using that data to make better decisions in whatever various different use cases the customer has.

Robbie Baxter: Okay, so you have a lot of different elements to your solution. How do you sell it? Are there parts that people buy outright for the hardware? Or do they subscribe to the whole thing based on usage? What do you think about that? Maybe I can expand that a little bit and say, are there other ways that you considered, or that you are considering for different types of customers when it comes to the business model?

Jeff Hausman: I’ll start with, what do we do today? We sell on a software subscription model. So customers will typically sign up for a 3 to 5-year contract and they receive a variety of things with that license. They get access to what we call that connected operations cloud platform. Both the web experience and the mobile application, which are constantly updated. We provide data collection, so that can be done through those devices I mentioned. It also can be done through APIs or through third parties that we can talk about.

Software Subscription Model: We offer data collection options through APIs or third-party integrations. It includes cellular connectivity, a Wi-Fi hotspot, customer support, customer success services, and hardware warranties for a comprehensive package.

 

We provide cellular connectivity and a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows the data to actually be transmitted, if you will, to us and allows our customers to benefit by being more online and connected themselves. It comes with customer support, customer success, and a warranty with the hardware devices. We package all of that up.

We do sometimes have new types of releases and new SKUs that we would provide as some form of an add-on but the whole goal is to make it a little bit easier for customers. Instead of you asking what else might have been considered at one point, there were considerations. Should we sell the hardware, then the software, and then the services?

One of the things we realized again, going back to that customer feedback loop, is that it’s very complex, and it’s harder for a customer to both predict and kind of budget, and manage. They like simplicity. So that led us to, “Let’s just provide a subscription model.” Make this a lot easier for customers to be able to get what they need and really focus on. How do we help serve them and drive the outcome and the experience in a better way?

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, it’s so interesting, because to me, this seems like the next big frontier for subscriptions is this integrated hardware-software solution, which I think does a better job of aligning the outcome with the pricing.

I don’t know exactly what sensors I need. I don’t exactly know what gateways I need. I just want to know if I could know the data I need to know so that I can make better decisions. I bet they would say if I could just snap my fingers and have better decisions be made, that would be kind of Nirvana. Solve the problem on an ongoing basis. How do I get the most value out of these very expensive assets? And what’s being carried by them?

Jeff Hausman: Absolutely. If a customer is interested in improving the safety, they may say, “Well, what are all the devices?” We will provide them with the devices that are going to be required to get the right data so that they can analyze it.

Let’s say it’s driver behavior. They can use data on the way in which the vehicle is being driven, everything from speeding to harsh events, harsh acceleration, harsh cornering, etc. All those come together, and then we can create an effective safety score for the drivers. Then you can look at which drivers are the safest drivers, and then the ones that aren’t operating as safely. How do we coach them and give them the tools to actually do better? And so it really is, again, to your point, it’s about the value, providing the outcome to them, and making it easy for them to get what they need.

Robbie Baxter: You’re a product guy, is that how you think about product roadmap or product expansions, sort of following if they need this? And then they need to know how the vehicle is doing. They need to know if it’s being used for harsh turns or stops, then which drivers are doing more or less of that, and then the next step is coaching them so that they can learn.

Is that how you think about your product roadmap, when it comes to your offering to follow the customer’s need all the way through to the solution?

Jeff Hausman: Absolutely. As I said, we have what we call the customer feedback loop or the customer journey, and we are constantly engaging with customers. We have customer advisory boards, we go out, and we do visits. I was at a large chemical industrial facility and plant last week in Texas learning and understanding what the customer is doing, watching, and seeing where there are opportunities, where data could actually help them. Then how do you get that right data to them in the right way, whether it’s a mobile device application, or something that an administrator who sits at a computer is going to be able to access? These are the things we’re constantly looking for and listening for as we talk to customers. They guide us.

Customer Feedback Loop: We are listening to our customers and exploring with them how data can transform the way they do things.

 

We started and we put out a camera, and it was an externally facing camera, and people really latched on to that because then they could see when there was an accident and what happened. They could use the date of the video to exonerate their drivers where there would be an accident, and let’s say it’s between an individual in the public and one of these drivers driving a piece of heavy equipment, the driver could get access to the video and show the responding officers, “Hey, here’s the video of what happened. And actually, I was not at fault. This person cut me off.” It made their life easier. But that was after the fact. And then customers said, “Well, couldn’t you use and help us look at what the drivers are doing? Are they wearing their seatbelt? Are they picking up their phone? Are they distracted? Could you help us figure that out?” So we created a dual-facing camera that leverages advanced computer vision and AI to help solve a problem. We are listening to our customers and trying to explore with them how data is really something that can transform the way they do things.

Robbie Baxter: How do you get your customers to give you that information? Are they eager to partner with you? How do you get the right voices into your voice of the customer?

Jeff Hausman: Well, I think part of it is just having a kind of a culture of recognizing and explaining. When we work with customers, we are a set of technologists. We’re not here just to build technology for the sake of technology, we’re here to build technology that’s going to help them.

By understanding their business that really is actually going to help us unlock what we can do for them, and oftentimes that leads to if I can help with a customer. Let’s say DHL is a customer. If we can help DHL in an area, that’s probably going to be able to help other organizations in that similar industry, etc.

We're not here just to build technology for the sake of technology, we're here to build technology that's going to help them. Click To Tweet

One of the things that we do when we talk to customers and recognize the world of physical operations has been, in our opinion, a little bit underserved by technology over the years. That has dramatically changed in the last 5 to 10 years. The leaders of these organizations are embracing the fact that data can help them change what they’re doing.

They oftentimes are opening up and being very willing, particularly when we’ve helped them in one particular area, to then invite us in and say you’ve helped us, let’s say, reduce the expense of fuel. You’ve helped us reduce the accident costs that we’re having to pay out by virtue of your safety solution. Now we want you to look at the way we’re actually managing all of our assets. What can we do to improve the utilization of our assets? Can you help us figure out a way to do that? And so it leads to an ongoing engagement and discussion with our customers that helps us to help them. That’s what this is really all about, Robbie.

The world of physical operations has been, in, in our opinion, a little bit underserved by technology over the years. That has dramatically changed in the last 5 to 10 years. Click To Tweet

Robbie Baxter: Got it. Last year I had a guest from the company WHOOP that makes the wristbands that track your physical health. They talked about some of the challenges that come when you have a hardware team working with a software team because there are different ways of thinking about the product. There are different ways of building product. And when you layer on top of that, the membership economy, this idea of subscription recurring revenue, it becomes really complicated. How do you balance those things?

Software is all about sending it out there, and seeing if it works. If it’s not working, make it better. Whereas with hardware, you know, you really have to be quite precise.

You know it. Different kinds of people are drawn to those two different areas. What is the culture like for the product team as you’re building out that next offering or that next feature?

Software is all about sending it out there, and seeing if it works. If it's not working, make it better. Whereas with hardware, you know, you really have to be quite precise. Click To Tweet

Jeff Hausman: Sure. And I think we’re pretty proud of the fact that we have world-class and outstanding engineering and product organizations when it comes to hardware and software. Whether that’s mobile, web, or back-end platform, etc. We operate in an integrated way as an R&D team. You’re right, for instance, if we put out a piece of hardware that has to go through a rigorous set of testing. It has to support various different temperature situations. Oftentimes, the organizations and customers we’re supporting, are operating in pretty harsh environments, right? So temperatures, outdoor situations with water, and things of that nature that are hitting these devices. They have to be able to withstand that, and we test them rigorously to make sure that they are of the utmost quality.

The software, obviously, has aspects of what you call firmware as well as software that has to integrate nicely and seamlessly to make it really easy so that our customers, who may be, let’s say, starting with us on a journey where they’re purchasing us for telematics. I want to know, where are all of my vehicles? I want to be able to understand the efficiency of how they’re being run.

Then they expand and say, “Well, we actually now want to add on safety. And we want to drive a safety culture and a safety program. And then they expand on. And they say, “Now we want to expand to all of our assets, maybe all the trailers that we also have in our environment, or the things that go in, and the assets that go in those trailers, or whatnot.”

We have to make it easy for them, and so we pride ourselves in being able to do that in an integrated and well-coordinated fashion across the R&D team. Even though we have a subscription model,  we’re pretty proud of the fact that we’ve been able to deliver very high margin structure. Our gross margin structure, where a public company is in the 70% plus percent range, even though we are shipping out hardware as part of our solution. We’re proud of how we make it.

We have to make it easy for them (customers), and so we pride ourselves in being able to do that in an integrated and well-coordinated fashion across the R&D team. Click To Tweet

Something that will work for the customer has the right sort of longevity, the right quality, etc., and also the ability to adjust and add things. To your point, the software is easier to adjust on top of the hardware. The hardware, hopefully, is staying in place for years and years and years without needing anything other than maybe firmware updates. It’s not a simple problem, but we work very hard so that complexity is masked, just like the subscription business model masks complexity from our customers.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, that seems to be a theme that you’ve brought up several times is this idea of how do we take something that’s pretty complicated and make it easy to buy, easy to use, and easy to maintain when there are a lot of different elements, right?

You talked about, you know, the hardware, the firmware, the software, the mobile apps— all of those pieces sort of integrating together in a way that feels easy and intuitive. I would imagine, for most of your clients, this is not their core area of expertise. This is new for them.

Jeff Hausman: Yeah. As I said, I think technology is increasingly something that our customers are embracing. But for many of our customers, they may be new. I was meeting with an organization that’s one of the world’s leading what we call aggregates companies, they produce cement, etc.

Obviously, their business is all, “How am I producing product? How am I making sure that that product is getting out to their end customers appropriately?” They’re not necessarily focused on IoT hardware or data from that hardware and how it’s consumed. We’re helping to provide that to them and help them focus on their business better. And we’re assisting them in how they do that and run things better.

Robbie Baxter: So you’re part of their ecosystem. You talked about how for many of your clients, technology is becoming more core, more of what they do, and that it sounds like there are other players that they’re also working with. It’s becoming part of this bigger ecosystem. This technology ecosystem. And I know you’ve invested in integrating into that bigger system of providers to help your customers make better decisions. Can you describe what that ecosystem looks like, maybe give an example of how you’ve collaborated?

Jeff Hausman: Absolutely. So we are proud of the fact that we have what we believe is the largest open ecosystem for physical operations. We have over 240 and growing integration partners of different types. We have a marketplace, and increasingly, we see players in our ecosystem and industry wanting to integrate with us, and the integrations are helping our customers get value in a number of different ways. Some of those are tied in directly to Samsara applications, and some of those are across other systems.

Here are a couple of examples to answer your questions. So there are tools that our customers use for maintenance or transportation management. The data we have on where vehicles are, what are the routes? What are the diagnostics? Codes coming off those vehicles, etc. We can pass that data to those systems to help our customers use those in conjunction with us to better design and drive programs that improve vehicle operations and utilization and avoid vehicle downtime or we can integrate with financial systems. So most of our customers use some form of an ERP financial system. We can take information in some cases, we have one customer who takes information on the location and the accuracy of that location of where their vehicles and assets are actually operating. The company is called Liberty Energy. And using that data, they have actually been able to save over 10 million dollars a year, where they are providing the information that then allows them to get accurate tax savings and benefits based on that usage.

We also have integrations with OEMs. The original manufacturers of vehicles or trailers, where we are bringing data that would be complementary to having our own device but coming directly from a vehicle location, diagnostics, etc. The list goes on.

To give you an example of some of the types of organizations that are part of our ecosystem, I’m sure you’ve heard of companies nationwide like Ford, Penske, Navistar, and others you might not be as familiar with Fleetcor, AssetWorks and Thermo King. Our goal is taking that data, unlocking the value and power so that our customers are able to leverage it in so many different ways.

Robbie Baxter: You’ve talked a couple of times about safety. I’m interested in what it is that you do for customers relating to safety and why that’s important. How you got there from temperature control to vehicle location to safety.

Jeff Hausman: Sure, it’s that fall in the customer journey that we talked about and the customer feedback. But we start with when we were helping customers better understand where their vehicles are, what their vehicles are doing, and how do they do everything from tracking compliance with how those vehicles are run, etc. We started to talk with customers about what were some of their other big cost factors.

Safety for physical operations tends to be job number one. Whenever you visit these plants, whether it’s a distribution facility or a manufacturing facility, you will see signs around safety as job number one, and people will probably post the X number of days since they’ve had any sort of violation or a safety incident. They’re all about making sure that their workers are getting home safe every night. When they came to us with that, we felt that we could help from a driver’s standpoint. We’re helping them by taking video-based information combined with the information about that vehicle. What is its accelerometer saying? Is it something where, when we see something that happened with a vehicle as it’s driving, we can tell that I described the notion of a harsh event, a harsh break, or a harsh turn? You can see that in the data, and you can marry that with what’s actually happening outside the vehicle. What’s happening inside the vehicle?

We use video to help determine if Jeff is driving and if he’s holding up his cell phone. Am I driving and I don’t have my seatbelt on? I mean, these are relatively straightforward things. If I’m looking outward, am I tailgating? Or is my following distance appropriate? And by giving those indications, what we’re really trying to do is we’re trying to help our customers.

We have a company called Chalk Mountain Services. It’s an example of a customer that is able to drive a safety program and dramatically reduce costs. Chalk Mountain Services is a company that operates a large fleet of big vehicles. They go out and they do what is called oil field services, utility services, where they’re literally installing various different utilities and digging trenches and putting equipment in place, to put in place the utility and the energy and oil. Kind of field equipment that needs to run in order to make sure that those fields are running properly, or various other organizations have access to those types of services when they’re building and driving construction. They’re a field services organization in that industry.

In operating these big vehicles in all kinds of remote locations, they saw a problem where their drivers were not necessarily always able to understand how their driving behavior was, and they were seeing accidents, and they wanted to reduce accidents and drive that cost down.

By having video-based solutions that would project out and show what was happening while they were driving and inward, they could help drive better coaching of their drivers, and they could also help exonerate drivers when there was an incident, but the incident was not their fault, and they had video-based evidence to prove it.

Using that, they drove accident costs down by over 85%. They also drove a 15% increase in driver retention because drivers realized the company cared so much about their safety. They were investing in technology to help them avoid getting blamed for accidents that were not their fault and helping them drive better, more efficiently, more efficiently and safely. So that’s really a win-win from the use of technology.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, it’s interesting. There was a part of me that was thinking, How do these drivers feel about being monitored? I have this vision of the Lone Wolf driving on the lonesome road with nobody watching them. I was wondering how they responded. There must be ways to help them understand the value that they’re getting, which is driving support and engagement toward the adoption of new ways of doing things.

Jeff Hausman: What you tend to see in this case, talking about drivers but just general users, is that in any physical operation, the environment is helping them see how this is helping them actually avoid issues for them or make their life easier, which is really what wins them over. For instance, I had an experience where I had a construction company based outside of Sacramento. One of the heads of the operations facility there told me a story about one of his drivers who was driving, and an individual tried to make a left-hand turn from the right lane, cut right in front of the vehicle, and didn’t give that driver enough time to react. There was a rear-end collision. When the police CHP showed up, that poor driver was trying to provide their side of the story as well as that of the individual who cut them off. And as soon as the driver could download and show the CHP, here’s the video that exonerated them. They start to realize this technology is actually helping them because otherwise they might be initially thought of as at fault.

I had an even more extreme example in Europe a couple of months ago that got shared with me. One of our customers had a driver who was driving late at night. That driver, unfortunately, was falling asleep and distracted. Our technology actually caught that this was happening and was able to alert the driver as well as the dispatcher, who was then able to contact the driver to get that driver safely off the road. That driver later wrote to the company’s entire management and all of his peers and said, “This technology literally saved my life, because if they hadn’t noticed and had told me to get off the road, I probably would have driven off the road and crashed.” These vehicles, when you get in an accident, could cause really serious damage to not just the driver but the entire community.

As we see, the costs of these things are pretty astronomical. So anything you can do to help them, and once they see that benefit, then they start to be a believer. They use that and they work with each other, and they start to appreciate that it is actually trying to help them. It’s not trying to police them in some way. It’s actually trying to make everybody better.

Robbie Baxter: Thinking about all of the different players that are involved, who’s buying from you and making that decision? And then who else is involved across an organization? And what do you think about that onboarding process for different types of customers?

Jeff Hausman: Sure. Well, we’re often selling to operations leaders and administrators, who are then tasked with driving an outcome in their organization. Whether that is, “Hey! We need a way to be compliant. We operate vehicles that have to be compliant to the Department of Transportation and Regulations, and require logging and things of that nature.” This is their regulation in the US, Canada, Europe, etc. That might be one.

It might be that there’s an individual who’s an operational leader responsible for safety and risk reduction in an organization.They’re looking for how they can understand how workforces are behaving within their manufacturing facilities and depots or how their drivers are operating.

We are typically selling to those leaders and then to the users, whether they’re drivers or workers in a manufacturing setting. We work with those customers to help show them the best practices and ways to illustrate the benefit to those users. I described earlier that our subscription includes customer success resources. We work with our customers to make sure that the hardware gets deployed and integrations are put in place. We make that very easy for them, and then we do coaching and training on how to use the mobile application, and we go through an extensive process of helping them understand and answer questions. Like we have a web interface, we go to the administrator and their teams and say, Here is what you’re able to see, and here’s how you’re able to use it. We can configure and customize the solution the way they want it.

There are different types of specific alerts they want. Are there various different types of reports that they want to emphasize and use? There are a variety of different ways. We can set up what are called tags so I can organize. Let’s say I have an operation that operates in five states. Maybe each state is an entity that I want to set up. We can do all of that. We really try to make it easy for our customers to understand and get that ease of use.

Then we help them appreciate why and how this is going to be helpful for them and what the benefit is, and we work through that with them. We also do what we call a business value analysis, where we give them a before and after. What we expect, you’re actually going to see, and we oftentimes do this with a trial where we take, let’s say, a subset of their fleet. Maybe it’s 20 vehicles or 40 vehicles, and we show what was happening prior and what happens when you start to have a better understanding of what’s happening, and that can drive things like those fuel cost savings, reductions in different types of behaviors that are leading indicators of accidents, etc. We’re helping them basically provide and understand what return they’re going to get, and then make sure that they have the right tools to actually implement it.

Robbie Baxter: You do a beta. You do a small experiment to see what the results are. You customize the interface so that they’re getting the solutions that they want, and that they’re optimized for their unique environment. 

Do you work with the different parts of the organization to roll it out as well? Or is that something that the organization handles? Or does it depend?

Jeff Hausman: It depends. We have a couple of different things. In some cases, we have customers who will take the devices, and they may have large vehicles, and they do install a gateway, a camera, and a bunch of different vehicles. Maybe they have a large maintenance center that is used to implementing and putting in and fixing things within vehicles, and we might give them the tools, and they might say we’ve got it, and they go do it.

We have other customers who say, “You know, that’s not really my forte. I actually outsourced that. Do you have a third party that can come and do the implementation?”

And we have third-party partners that can come in and do the implementation. Or sometimes we ourselves will come and do the implementation for them, so it can kind of depend. The whole point, though, is to really set the hardware in the right place so that the right sensor data is flowing to the back end. Once that happens, then the training on how to use it is oftentimes done by our team from a customer success standpoint. Sometimes it will be done where we train a trainer, and then they take it out and do it internally. But we work with the customer on whatever they need, and however they need it to work. We generally find that a lot of customers nowadays can use self-service tooling and then take that and sort of self-train if that makes sense.

Robbie Baxter: That does make sense. Awesome.

That’s great. So I have lots more questions, but I know we’re running out of time. I’m wondering if I can ask you one more question, and then we can go into a speed round.

Jeff Hausman: Sure.

Robbie Baxter: First question is, what do you see as the next space that’s ripe for subscription and sensors; what’s interesting to you outside of the space where you work right now?

Jeff Hausman: We have such a unique asset in terms of lots of aggregated information and data. How do we help our customers use that data? But what is happening in the world of using things in generative AI.

In AI in general, to take advantage of information that somehow we can better tap into to help serve more insights and more information, both ourselves and how that’s going to evolve, how our customers are operating. So we have one customer called Kong Global. They are pioneering what I’ll call teleoperations. In their yards, they could literally have you sitting at your desk operating a piece of heavy equipment, and you are literally remote. It’s almost like playing a video game while driving a vehicle. That may completely change how organizations are able to run and operate. It may change the type of workforce that they are able to attract and retain. It may make it so much more desirable for somebody. Some of the environments they operate in are in places like the Midwest. In the Midwest, in the dead of winter, you don’t necessarily want to be out in the cold. What if you could do that in sunny Florida?

Does it also open up the opportunity for people who have disabilities to operate these pieces of equipment when before they couldn’t? So there are some really interesting things that relate to our space that we think could be game changers for the industry as well.

Robbie Baxter: That’s fascinating. Okay, speed round. First subscription you ever had?

Jeff Hausman: Personally, probably my cellphone.

Robbie Baxter: Cellphone subscription. Your favorite subscription that you use today?

Jeff Hausman: It’s probably Apple TV.

Robbie Baxter: Favorite road to drive and favorite vehicle to drive in?

Jeff Hausman: Favorite road to drive is probably Highway One on a nice day without traffic. Vehicle to drive. Do I have to own it? Or could it be a wish list? All right, wish list. I don’t know. Maybe a convertible Mclaren, or something that I could buzz down Highway One in on a sunny day.

 

highway one

Jeff Hausman’s Favorite Road to Drive: Highway One

 

Robbie Baxter: That’s a nice image.

And your best advice for other professionals who are working in the IoT space and are thinking about bringing together a lot of disparate parts into a subscription. What would be your advice?

Jeff Hausman: I again would go back to the theme that we talked a bunch about, and that is, think about simplicity, and think about how you can make something that is going to be a delighter and something that’s going to be easy for a customer to get value from, and don’t make it complicated, and then be open to learning. You’re not going to get it right the first time, the second time. Keep working. Customers appreciate your desire to help work with them to get it right.

Customers appreciate your desire to help work with them to get it right. Click To Tweet

Robbie Baxter: Awesome. Great advice. Jeff, thank you so much for being on the Subscription Stories Podcast. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you.

Jeff Hausman: Thank you for having me, Robbie. It was fantastic.

That was Jeff Hausman, Chief Product Officer of Samsara. For more about Jeff and Samsara, go to Samsara.com. For more about Subscription Stories as well as the transcript of my conversation with Jeff, go to RobbieKellmanBaxter.com/podcast.

Also, I have a favor to ask. If you like what you heard, please take a minute to go over to Apple Podcasts or Apple iTunes and leave a review.

Mention Jeff and this episode if you especially enjoyed it. Reviews are how listeners find our podcast, and we appreciate each one. Thanks for your support and for listening to Subscription Stories.

 

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About Jeff Hausman

Jeffrey “Jeff” Hausman is the Chief Product Officer of Samsara, Inc.

In the past, he occupied the positions of Principal at HP, Inc., Vice President & General Manager at Gen Digital Inc., Senior Vice President at ServiceNow, Inc., Principal at Veritas Corp., Chief Executive Officer & Director at Cloud Physics, Inc., Chief Operating Officer for LiveOffice LLC and Consultant at Strategy&.

Jeff Hausman received an undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College and an MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

 

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