Name: Manny Linhares
Position: Director of IoT Strategy
Company: Legrand AV
SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?
MANNY LINHARES: I serve as the director of IoT strategy for Legrand North and Central America. In this role, I oversee all elements of the company’s efforts to design and develop connected products for power, light, and data applications in commercial and residential applications. In commercial AV, our brands include Chief, Da-Lite, Middle Atlantic Products, Projecta, and Vaddio.
SCN: How long have you been in this position?
ML: I started in the IoT strategy director position in January of 2017. Previously I led Legrand’s strategy for our Data Communications Division, focused on the data center and building network markets.
SCN: How has your background prepared you for your role?
ML: I’ve also previously held positions with Eaton Corp. and Schneider Electric, managing research and development, applications engineering, project management, and many sustainability initiatives.
SCN: What are your short- and long-term goals?
ML: In the short term, we want to partner with manufacturers who share our vision of purposeful design and delivering a valuable user experience. Everyone is familiar with the estimates that our industry will reach somewhere around 50 billion connected devices by 2020. AV integrators will benefit from this growth explosion by leveraging the technology for their customers—but only if manufacturers can work together to help leverage these devices as systems through easy interoperability.
Long term, we want to support integrators as the business model continues to shift. We recognize that integrators need to be ready to build services and find ways to support their customers throughout the entire building, not just in a conference room or other dedicated space. With the proliferation of connected systems, there are many new and exciting opportunities for integrators to manage more of the ecosystem of the building.
SCN: What is the greatest challenge you face?
ML: It really comes down to interoperability. If we are going to realize the full potential of IoT for AV and a variety of other markets, these systems and devices need to work together seamlessly. Interoperability is essential to creating the kinds of experiences we hope to deliver as manufacturers—ultimately ensuring the satisfaction of our customers.
SCN: Where do you see the AV/IoT market heading?
ML: AV integrators have been dealing with the fundamentals of IoT for some time. Deploying products that sit on a network or that communicate with sensors is something this community is well versed in. Where integrators need to do more is in accelerating how IoT systems and devices can expand the scope of their services.
Working with both the residential and commercial sides of our business, it’s clear that the developments in IoT for the home are driving how technology evolves in commercial applications. Customers are already demanding that the same level of usability and functionality they have at home be available in the office. For us in the AV industry, that presents a big opportunity to own the expansion of networked systems.
SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from Legrand AV?
ML: We just announced an expansion of our IoT partner program. Since Legrand launched its global IoT program, Eliot, we have forged over 50 global partnerships with leading companies in the consumer electronics, hospitality, and automotive markets.
Our goal for this year is to grow and strengthen these partnerships to take our integrations to even deeper levels, and work to develop new ways of managing all the available data for the ease and benefit of the user.
SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services you offer?
ML: For success in working with Legrand—or with any AV manufacturer—we believe integrators need to see the AV system as the output to other areas. Every installation today has the potential of becoming a large, multifaceted, “smart” project. Often the AV system becomes the eyes and ears of the entire integration, being the interface and touch point for many operations. The integrators who deeply understand this and the client’s specific needs will generate opportunities to address requirements through integrated IoT technologies and devices.
As mentioned, AV integrators are finding that commercial customer expectations are being influenced by the technologies they experience in their personal lives. Because of this, customers now expect this same level of functionality in their work environment—the line between home and work has blurred significantly. It’s up to us as manufacturers to work closely with integrators to evolve and meet these challenges, and together we will deliver solutions and experiences that wow the end user and greatly exceed their expectations.