Canopy's Co-Founder, CTO Predicts Game Changers in Proactive Connectivity, Remote Device Visibility
Q/A highlighting the rapid growth of remote, self-service devices and advances in connectivity that offer opportunities for businesses to expand.
- Co-Founder and CTO Webb Morris joined forces with CEO Steve Latham in 2013 to launch Canopy, formally Banyan Hills Technologies to address a need in the market for a product and platform that could help businesses oversee, manage, and operate remote devices essential to business.
The rapid proliferation of remote, self-service devices and advances in connectivity present businesses with an opportunity to expand and scale services like never before. Remote device management is becoming easier, more customizable, and increasingly proactive, allowing businesses to anticipate issues that can disrupt device operation and resolve issues faster.
We sat down with Webb Morris, who oversees the architecture and development of the Canopy platform, to get his take on big trends in connectivity and industry developments that present game changers for remote device management.
Q: What are some of the biggest trends in connectivity on the horizon?
A: The pervasiveness of connectivity, thanks in part to advances such as 5G and the increasing number of mundane devices now connected to the internet, has opened up an incredible array of device capabilities. We would never have imagined our refrigerators connected to the internet, but now it’s commonplace to have a host of home appliances and devices, from heating systems, doorbell cameras, alarms and electronics connected. That connectivity brings with it new flows of information that can allow businesses to be so much more informed. The amount of information can also be overwhelming. Our Canopy platform plays in a space where we can pull together information from edge technologies, and devices our customers have deployed, and offer a single pane of glass to view how all devices are performing and react quickly to needed changes or issues.
Increased awareness is also driving a more proactive approach to remote device operations. It is easier to see and understand issues that are preventable, like outdated software or life cycle limits. The ability to spot issues before they occur is further decreasing the need to ever roll a truck for a repair or trouble shooting, for example.
Q: How do you stay up to date on industry trends? Any good reads you can share?
A: I am definitely a news junkie and I enjoy understanding what other companies are doing in this space. The miniaturization of computer capabilities, for example, I find fascinating. “General Magic” is a great story of the creation of the first smartphone. I am also huge fan of works of fiction. I love introducing my kids to science fiction, like Isaac Asimov.
Q: How does the Canopy platform address trends in the remote device monitoring space?
A: The challenge many of our customers face is managing unattended devices that are not part of their core business. Self-help kiosks, bill paying systems, clinical equipment, digital signage, and other types of devices that amplify a business or allow a company to sell or deliver services present the benefit of added services, but the complication of management. Canopy monitors and manages those devices at scale. The company’s Canopy platform was created to allow customers to centrally monitor, manage and control connected devices at scale, offering real-time dashboards, advanced features and configurable KPIs that deliver complete visibility into an entire network.
Often customers are presented with situations they need to solve for when things go wrong with devices. Canopy leverages the latest advances in connectivity to not only take care of issues remotely, reducing the number of truck rolls needed, but can also be trained to find solutions and proactively anticipate problems. Take the example of a self-serve kiosk where maybe there’s a paper jam or the receipt paper has run out. Instead of an onsite worker having to notice the issue and then make a call to find out how to fix it, the Canopy system can alert the business when the paper has run out and tell them how to replace it quickly.
Q: Why is automation becoming a key differentiator for the Canopy platform?
A: It is now possible to automate so many processes. Repeatable tasks, like software and hardware updates and remote device fixes, can be fully automated. One of the coolest things about the Canopy platform is its ability to be trained to understand the unique situations our customers find themselves facing and to create automated workflows. We are constantly amazed at how our customers can use this capability to customize solutions for such a wide variety of detailed issues. For example, Canopy can help automate lifecycle management. Or, let’s say a company ships blank computers to the field and, once the computers are fully network connected, they can be linked to Canopy and automatically configured to handle a specific workflow, like a manufacturing process or a quality control check. Before automation, each computer would have to be manually serviced. Automation over Canopy can vastly improve efficiency and save time and cost.
Q: What are some of the ways digital transformation can scale business and even improve quality of life?
A: Dental clinics are a great example of digital transformation at work. Because of connectivity, dental clinics are increasingly able to offer more cutting-edge technology and services. New medical devices that can take better imaging, for example, or be used for various procedures no longer require an onsite technician. Dental clinic staff may be trained to use devices, but most will not know what to do if something goes wrong with the device. For many years the only solution was to call in technical support, but medical devices connected to a platform like Canopy can be repaired or updated remotely, allowing for less device downtime and fewer headaches for busy dentists focused on expanding their practices.
Q: Are there more developments coming from Canopy?
A: One of the next steps for our Canopy platform is offering enhanced visibility into device streams and greater customization. We will provide customers not only with individualized device data streams, but aggregated information to help them gain a wider view across all devices and available information. Customers will not only be able to manage fleets of devices remotely, but segregate the management of different groups of devices. This will essentially allow our customers to build their own information and user experience and customize the use of available information to create and manage solutions unique to their business.