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Check back here often for the latest news on our new product releases, awards, recognitions, and other exciting achievements.

Home Automation Podcast Episode #36: An Industry Q&A With JB Fowler

Benefits of Remote Monitoring and Management:

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing JB Fowler. Recorded live on Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About JB Fowler

J.B. has over 15 years of experience in the Audio/Video Networking industries, including several years with Control4, where he managed the Audio/Video and Controller product lines.

In addition, he ran the Business Development organization for Luxul, a Wired and Wireless Networking company that focuses on the integration channels.

He currently is the Chief Product Officer for Domotz, ensuring that Integrators and Manufacturers that leverage Domotz have a great product experience.

Interview Recap

Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with JB:

  • Remote connectivity security concerns
  • Operational efficiency for integrators
  • Strategies for eliminating truck rolls
  • Ease of Installation

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #35: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Joey Kolchinsky


Ron:  Hello out there, Ron Callis with another episode. Episode number 36 of Automation Unplugged. Thank you very much for joining me today. Sorry we're getting started. Just a couple of minutes late. It is Wednesday, February 28th, and today's a very important day. Today's my wife's birthday and I'm taking her out to dinner with my son tonight to a very nice restaurant down in Miami and it's going to be a lot of fun. And she's informed me to announce that she is 21 years old and holding. So good for her. She's figured out that secret. All right, let me bring to you our guest. I've got a fun individual. Let me bring him on camera. Let's see what we got here, J.B. How's it going, sir?

J.B.: Good. Ron, how are you doing today?

Ron:  I am good. If I were any better, I'd be two people.

J.B.: Very nice. I got to tell you. I'm actually excited to hear that it's your wife's birthday. And I hope that everybody listening shows up to that restaurant in Miami and gives her a good happy birthday.

Ron:  You know, nothing would get me in more trouble than if that actually happens. Let's, let's not do that. But you actually met my wife J.B, didn't you? Danielle, you met her a few months ago?

J.B.: I did. I did. Wonderful woman. She obviously keeps you in line, which I can fully appreciate.

Ron:  Amen. As does yours. All right, so JB you are with Domotz not to be confused with dough motts. Mott's Apple sauce, but Domotz. And if you could fill our audience in on what Domotz is and then I want to do a little bit of a deep dive into your background.

J.B.: Yeah, absolutely. So Domotz is a remote monitoring and management company. We monitor networks or we help integrators monitor the networks that they're installing for their clients or their customers. Our primary goal at Domotz is to ensure that the integrator runs a very successful business and that they really provide the best possible customer service for their customers. Right. Our goal is to be a tool for the integrators to run their business more efficiently. Period.

Ron:  Okay. Very cool. By the way, I just verified J.B. That our Facebook stream is live. We've got a few folks hanging out watching us, Winn Walter just said hello.

J.B.: Oh, excellent. You got to love Winn.

Ron:  Gotta love Winn. Thanks for hanging out and commenting if you're out there, please like, share, comment that helps us get this content out to a wider audience, to all your friends and industry peers. So please, please do that. I appreciate that. And if you have any questions as we go for J.B., I'm going to do my best to read those off and give those to him live here so we can field any questions. So J.B. You're with Domotz, you are Chief Product Officer. I want to get into what does that mean? How are you helping your customers? How are you helping your company? But what's a little bit about you, your background? Where do you come from? How did you land in this industry? How did you end up staying in this industry? And can you fill the audience in on a little bit about you?

J.B.: Who J.B. is. I think I can do that a little bit here. First off I'll say that I knew from probably age 10 that I wanted to be an electrical engineer. It started, I'm sure you'll remember these Ron, but you remember the guy, Mr Wizard.

Ron:  Oh, I loved Mr. Wizard. I grew up on Nickelodeon.

J.B.: Yeah, the guy was great. Right? So the thing that fascinated me about Mr Wizard was an episode where he took a hot dog and two forks and he plugged those forks into each end of the hot dog, and then he plugged one end of a cord to one fork and another and or the other wire to the other fork. And then he plugged it into the outlet and cook the hot dog. I was completely fascinated with that. And from that point on I was amazed with, you know, those plugs that were in the wall or the outlets that were in the wall and what I could do with those things. So I knew I wanted to do something electrical. Engineering seemed to have more money associated with it. So I kind of went down that path. Went to the Colorado school of Mines, got an Electrical Engineering degree there, followed by a systems, a Master's in Systems Engineering and then went off to work for Texas Instruments. The small little company based out of Texas. Have you, you've been there actually Winn, who's listening. I appreciate him because I lived in Houston for about 11 years while I was working for TI. When I was there, I started working in the digital signal processing division. I worked on a couple of their digital signal processors that were more focused on media and did a lot of hardware applications engineering and a lot of software development for these media chips that went into various things like video communication systems. In fact, we're talking on Skype right now. I was working on some of the original algorithms that went into video conferencing systems, whether it's for systems like Polycomm or Cisco. All of these things had to do with networking and video compression. And I was fascinated with that. Ended up spending 11 years of my career with Texas Instruments and kind of growing a really large business for very large clients of ours. At the time, it was probably 2011, I decided that I wanted to spend a little bit more time with my family, spend some time in the mountains. I also wanted to do a change in career, which a lot of people want to do. After 10 or so years, I decided to look at the Salt Lake City area and I found, you know, the small company called Control4 that was doing some pretty cool things. I thought I'd, in fact they were a customer of ours while I was at TI, and decided to take up a role in product management with Control4. With Control4 that led into, you know, four years of development and being in this industry, really trying to adapt the new controllers to do some of the things that a lot of the automation world wanted did that for quite a bit of time. I found myself partnering or needing to partner with different companies. Luxal was one of the networking companies that Control4 at the time was a good partner with. And that rolled into a business development role that I had within Luxal. Primary goal there was to make sure that the products that Luxal was doing and the business opportunities that Luxal was finding were going to be successful. And I think that worked well. One of the things that Luxal needed was a remote monitoring and management solution and they needed a strong partner with that. And at the time we were working with companies like ITG, we were looking at what OvrC was doing. We were looking at what Ubiquiti was doing out in the real world. Quite frankly, it came down to the fact that Domotz, a new and up and coming RMR solution or really, excuse me, RMM, I should say, remote monitoring and management solution was there. We looked heavily at them and we decided you know what this is the partner that we wanted to have. That in turn worked itself into a role as a product officer with Domotz. So that's how I find myself in this career and in this path and essentially been working with custom integrators for the last 15 or so years and it's been a great ride so far and I'm enjoying what I'm doing.

Ron:  So when you were at Control4, were you there when they went public?

J.B.: I was.

Ron:  What was that like? You know, when you were inside the company, what was kind of the energy like?

J.B.:  It was a lot It of fun. In fact, this is my own little personal humorous story and maybe Martin playing at Control4 doesn't find it as funny. But the day that I hired on to Control4 was the same day that Martin was announced as the new CEO. And I called my new potential boss there and I said, Hey, what's going on here? What's this mean? And at the time, you know, my boss had said, well, we're, you know, we're redirecting how we're looking at the company and we really want to take it public and you know, this could actually prove to be a good opportunity for you. I'm like, okay, let's make it happen. And so go in there. And we started, I started out working with, you know, the management teams, figuring out how can we build a product that's going to make Control4 more and more successful, not only for the integrators that are out there and what they're doing, but also for the shareholders, right. And the potential shareholders. It's quite a ride to go from being a startup company that was growing quite well to try and to transition it to be a public company. And that was an experience that I personally enjoyed greatly. I didn't mention it, but while I was at TI, I ended up getting an MBA. And so a lot of the things that I was learning through that two year program at Rice University was very educational when it came to what was happening within Control4, as we went from that private to public company.

"To have learned it in school and read case studies and what not about it in business school. And then to go see it firsthand upfront, that had to be pretty fun."

Ron:  So to have learned it in school and read case studies and what not about it in business school. And then to go see it firsthand upfront, that had to be pretty fun.

J.B.: It was fun. It was definitely a good time. And it was one of those things where it's like, okay, that investment in that MBA just paid off, right? So to watch this and be able to help within, quite frankly, being able to ask the right questions about are we focused in the right way? Are we doing the right things we need to do as a company to make this profitable? It was, it was really exciting.

Ron:  So Domotz, I'm going to show my ignorance here. That's a European company. Correct?

J.B.: Domotz was started out of the UK. It was essentially birth by a gentleman by the name of Dominica had worked with Control4 and some other automation solutions out there. And what had happened was, and you hear about this, and I'm sure a lot of integrators will empathize with this, what he found is that his wife who was dealing with the system more than he was, was always calling and complaining about something, right? Either something didn't work the way it should or something fell offline. And so things broke. So Dominica started researching with a gentleman by the name of Silvio. Silvio ended up being our CTO. Our chief technical officer for Domotz. Both of them, started looking at, there's gotta be a better way to manage this. They started looking at remote monitoring solutions that were out there. And they were either too high priced or they weren't positioned appropriately for the home automation market, or they didn't really have some of the features that Dominica and Sylvia were really looking for. They wanted something that was easy to use, that either the integrator could very simply use or that the homeowner could use themselves because they weren't finding anything. They decided to go build it. And that's really what gets us Domotz today and where we are today.

"Many of us find pain in our lives every day and we don't decide, Oh, I'm going to go solve that for the world. A pretty big step."

Ron:  I'm assuming he had some background in building software or running a company or something like that in terms of finding, you know, many of us find pain in our lives every day and we don't decide, Oh, I'm going to go solve that for the world. A pretty big step.

J.B.: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Silvio certainly had the software background. Dominica comes from more of a business and financial background. And Silvio who understand software development, understands process like agile development and can build a solid software team. Did just that. It took 'em six months and a lot of hiring of people that they know hiring new software developers, but they essentially went from ground up taking some open source tools that were out there and really built a company based around user stories that they felt were important to the integration channel. Of course they went out and asked a lot of questions. They went out and looked at competitive solutions that were out there, but it all started from a need, a perceived need, and then asking integrators that are in this space, both for automation, home automation space, as well as professional AV, going and out and asking security integrators what their needs were and how they could solve the problem better. And even IT departments, right? Guys who are running large corporate networks and trying to figure out, Hey, what would make this world easier for you?

Ron:  What are some of the, well, let me back up before I go there. So is Domotz a hardware company or a software company or both?

J.B.: I was going to say, yeah, that's a good question. And a lot of people get confused by that. I'm going to tell you that my primary focus with Domotz is making us a software as a service company. Okay? So we, I'm going to say 95% of our business should be software. Now, that being said, those that know us know that we have a little black box that you can put, in fact, most integrators who today are our customers have that black box sitting in their network. The reason that we have that black box is because all hardware manufacturers are able to adopt our software with the way it's written today. We have developed solutions, software solutions that can be put onto embedded platforms. Whether those are routers like is the case with Luxal today where the Domotz software is sitting as an agent on top of the Epic3 and Epic4 and soon to be Epic5 routers. We have our software also embedded on solutions from companies like Fire FX where they were able to take our packages and put them in a virtual machine or a Linux container running on their hardware and it works great. I will tell you that we are working with other manufacturers that I unfortunately don't want to give names out to right now, but that we're getting our software to run on their hardware as well. So I'm pretty excited about what that means for our future and it's going the exact direction that we want to take it, which is making a small embedded agent that can sit on top of other manufacturer's hardware and make it function efficiently for the integration channel that's out there. One thing I should note as well, Ron, just, I'm not sure whether you're aware of this or not, but we have solutions today that are available on raspberry pies. So for people that want to tinker around and play with the Domotz software on raspberry pie installations, you can actually take our software and put it directly on there.

Ron:  What would be an application? How would that work and why would they do that? I just don't technically understand what that, I know raspberry pie is a little $30 computer processor, but I don't know much beyond that.

J.B.: So raspberry pies are in general when I use the term raspberry pie or orange pie or any other type of pie. Texas Instruments actually, while I was working for them, created a solution called a beagle bone. It was a way in which the semiconductor manufacturers can get companies to go develop software on their platforms. I really look at it as more of a hobbyist tool, but that being said, it is important to note that there are some integrators, there are some people in the managed service provider or even IT spaces that will take this little tiny, think of it as a mini computer and they will install software that they care about onto these little tiny boxes and enable them to do things like monitor the network through Domotz software. They may use it for doing a virtual machining into or VNC, right? Getting some sort of visibility onto the network with their own little PC. You can use it for things like that. It's just much more of an embedded solution and at a price point of, let's say $30 on average, it's a very low cost solution to be able to do something small. Let me tell you my concern with raspberry pies, and this is a comment that I'm on the phone with, with integrators all the time on, keep in mind that raspberry pies are a hobbyist solution. I'm not sure that they're the most effective things when it comes to professional installations or things you need to 100% rely on. Right. They're there.

Ron:  Got it. Understood. So Winn Walker just posted a very serious question, J.B, he says when will Amazon buy Domotz?

J.B.: That is a very good question. And, and you know, for $1 billion, I'd be happy to answer that.

Ron:  There you go. One daily and ID you put your finger on $1 billion.

J.B.: I do find the discussion, I think around, I think it was just announced yesterday around Amazon purchasing Ring. I think it's very telling in a very interesting position that Amazon is taking. Obviously they've made announcements with Lenore and what they're doing from a builder perspective. When I think of one of the entry points that Amazon has with respect to homeowners today, there's two things I think of, of course the adoption of Alexa and the smart home and what that means for voice controlled services, et cetera. But the second entry that they have is actually the doorstep. And they know, I'm sure that they have tons of money that gets lost because people are stealing Amazon boxes off the doorsteps. I think the acquisition of Ring and taking control of a camera that's an at that doorstep is an amazing one.

Ron:  Fascinating play isn't it? And you and I were at an event a few months ago and we were with the fellow that's running Amazon Alexa and to think that he was probably noodling and cooking this up and only to eminently announce that. And that's pretty fascinating.

J.B.: It is. It's a smart move on their part. At least in my opinion, I'm sure there are plenty of opinions out there of both directions but I think it's a wise move.

Ron:  Yeah, that's pretty interesting. Now in terms of the software slash hardware solution, I want to dive into maybe what to me seems like the obvious kind of elephant in the room. And that is, you know Control4 just acquired Ihiji and it went from a paid solution and integrator would pay something. I frankly don't know the latest Ihiji business model or what it was, but I know now there's some cost structure. I think there is no official cost per month for an integrator. And then there's Snap's OvrC solution and they provide some network visibility. And I don't believe there's a cost if you're an OvrC or a Snap AV integrator and with Domotz there is a cost. And so I'm going to assume that there's some capability that Domotz is providing or value add that Domotz is providing to the integrator. Can you, I'm sure some of our listening audience are looking at all of this RMR talk and service and maintenance discussions that are happening throughout the industry and they're seeing Domotz as a very viable contender for their business. Can you help me and my audience understand that landscape?

"And I think it's important to recognize that integrators today don't just play with one service. They don't do just one thing."

J.B.: No, I think it's a very good question. It's one that is posed to me all the time whether I'm face to face with an integrator or even over the phone having conversations about how does Domotz differentiate themselves from others in the market. There's a couple things that I should touch on here. First of all, you know, OvrC as well as Ihiji had made very large names for themselves, especially in the CEDIA channel. When I think of CEDIA, I certainly think the primary focus is being residential installations or residential integration channels. That being said, there's a larger market out there when it comes to professional AV or kind of what I would classify as the InfoComm like market. The security channel is a big one as well. So there's all these channels that people are going for and buying for because of the fact that there are so many channels. And I think it's important to recognize that integrators today don't just play with one service. They don't do just one thing. Only some of them do, right? Some of the smaller integrators are out there. Maybe they're only installing Sony TVs, right, and they're putting up the racks and that's all they do and they provide a remote control with it. But what I see from integrators is that they don't just work with Control4, they don't just work with Savant, they don't just work with, you know, vision cameras or whatever it may be out there. They cross multiple areas and they have to do that from an integration perspective to survive, right? Because one company can't solve all their problems. I mentioned at the very beginning that Domotz is a tool for the integrator to run their business more efficiently and really optimize themselves as integrators. What we try to do, and this has been one of our key value propositions, is that we work with multiple manufacturers or vendors in the integration channels, not only in the home automation space, but in professional audio and in security as well as just managed service provider networks in general. And it makes us, it provides us with a broader value proposition to any one particular integrator. The key thing that we have talked about is if you are going to live inside the Snap AV ecosystem or you're going to live inside the Control4 ecosystem, I think the solutions that had been provided there are very good and they work really well. But it's important to note that Domotz works equally well in the Snap AV ecosystem and Domotz works equally well in the Control4 ecosystem and as we work with other companies like Crestron or so fond or you know, Panamax and the core brand solutions for PDU or the LaGrand solutions for all of the things that they do, both advantage lighting as well as middle Atlantic. And there are PDUs all the way up to like Raritan that are catered more towards the server space and server industry. We have a big advantage there when it comes to helping the integrator go with one tool that cuts across multiple systems.

Ron:  Okay. No, I did not realize that or think about it that way. And I'm excited I saved that question for this live broadcast cause that that was pretty informative. Now to go, I don't know, maybe more I want to say high level. What are the benefits or operational efficiencies that an integrator gains when they are monitoring their customer's networks? Just you know, straight forward. Why should they do it? You know, I'm going to peel the layers back and go a little deeper.

J.B.: Yeah. I mean let's just talk about that in general, regardless of what solution you're using. I feel your question is more around why should an integrator be thinking about remote monitoring and management period.

Ron:  I would challenge many of them today are not. So assuming they should, the future would then be very bright for Domotz and the other vendors trying to cater to that space. So why should they do it?

J.B.: If you look at the, I'm going to back you up on what you're stating there because if you look at some of the latest CE Pro information that has come out over the last several months, what you find is that only, I mean it's a ridiculously small number, like something like 10% of the systems that are out there that had been deployed by custom integrators have are not being or excuse me, 10% are being monitored, which means that 90% of those jobs are not being monitored. My biggest optimization point that I can say for why you should be remotely monitoring these networks is so that you can eliminate a truck roll. That is thing number one. I mean truck rolls course. It depends on where you are in the market. I mean if the system you installed is right next door, it costs less. Then if the system is in the middle of Montana and you're in Bozeman and you need to drive four hours to get to that network, the last thing you want to do is drive four hours just to find out that all you had to do was pull the plug on the set top box and plug it back in for the integrator, or excuse me for the customer. That is a horribly expensive truck roll. Same if you live in the middle of New York or Manhattan, right? That's going to be very expensive, so if you can pay for a service that allows you to remotely manage those types of situations, you are so far ahead when it comes to the profitability of your company and how you operate efficiently. Furthermore, what I would say is even in more complex situations where it's not just a, you know, you had to power cycle a device, but is that RMM system, the remote monitoring and management system can provide you with visibility into what may be wrong with that network or that system. You may still have to do a truck roll, but if you could within let's say 90% certainty, say, Oh, before I do this four hour truck drive, I better make sure that I have this particular network switch and a second Apple TV on the network just to make sure that I solve that problem. It will help you eliminate a potential second truck roll, which I have no doubt in my mind that there are several integrators that are listening on this call right now that have said, I have gone out to a site, figured out what the problem was. I had to drive back to go get the hardware and go back the next day, right to solve it. If I can help eliminate two truck rolls, great. If I can eliminate at least one, it is starting to pay for itself.

Ron:  What in the applications where integrators are monitoring, what is your recommendation and what do you see happening today in terms of them also correlating, I don't know, I'm not going to use the right words here, so correct me if I'm wrong, but the actionable side of that. Meaning if you find that something needs to be power cycled, you would need a smart UPS that you could then perhaps power cycle remotely. Right? So, how often are you able to not only see the issue, your dealers see the issue, but then have the necessary hardware in place to then do something about it?

J.B.: Very good question there. And I will say that there is no, you can't take the K out of custom, right? It's that kind of the term we always use, each system that an integrator puts in is very customized. I will say that it's only through low learning. Maybe reading white papers experience is probably the biggest way in which an integrator starts to understand how they should set systems up to effectively solve problems remotely.That's something that I do want to say there and I think it's an important aspect. The term that you used about smart UPS. We use, so a UPS is an uninterruptible supply. That's something that will keep the network up or keep the system up while power may be out at the house. That's an important part of an installation that integrators should consider. The term that we use for being able to power cycle devices is typically PDU or a power distribution unit. And I usually like to put the word I or an intelligent or smart PDU in front of that because you don't want to have a power system that you turn off all the plugs at one time and it's just done, which often a UPS will do if you can control that. But in an intelligent PDU will allow you to have, you know, anywhere between, well it could be as small as one with products like Waymo, which are low cost wifi enabled PDUs, but it has one outlet. You control all the way up to large 16 outlet devices that you can control each individual outlet independently. What we do is and what we try to help integrators with is understand how to best use those intelligent PDUs and set them up on the right types of devices so that they can remotely power cycle those, those systems. For instance, smaller systems, whether it's a one outlet like Lemo like we talked about, or you can use Middle Atlantic's two outlet a PDUs use or Luxal's two outlet PDUs. You can put those behind a TV and be able to power cycle an Apple TV or be able to power cycle of smart TV remotely to get control back to those systems. Those are things that depending on the area that you live in, depending on the devices that you're installing, the integrator is going to start to learn which devices they need to put PDUs on and which ones they don't. And we encourage that level of thinking and type of thinking to be able to more effectively build a system that can be remotely monitored and managed like that.

Ron:  J.B, What's your observation? Why more of our industry does not do remote monitoring? And why does the majority of our industry today in 2018 not only not monitor, but not have service or maintenance contracts or any sort of post installation, a contractual binding relationship with their customers? What, I'm sure you are opinionated on that. What are your thoughts?

J.B.: I'm certainly opinionated on that Ron. The one thing that I, at least for the first part of your question and why hasn't this industry adopted it as fast as they have? And my response to that is that, and I think that the statement that you're, you're saying there, the question you're asking is primarily posed around the CEDIA channel and what it means for..

Ron:  That's accurate.

"The guys that have adopted these remote monitoring management tools are the ones that are much more progressive in their thinking. They're looking at how they can drive efficiencies within their organization."

J.B.: Yeah. The residential AV guys. And I think the reality is, is that it's important to, to go back on the word that I said, which is Domotz is a tool, right? Ihiji is a tool. OvrC a tool for the integrators. And what that means is it's a tool really for their business. And if they're not ready to adopt a new tool and change how they do business, it becomes in some sense of detrimental for them to make that change. It usually has to be a forcing function to the owner or a forcing function to that general manager of that integration company to make that change. The guys that have adopted these remote monitoring management tools are the ones that are much more progressive in their thinking. They're looking at how they can drive efficiencies within their organization. They're looking at another thing, especially for smaller companies, let's say guys that have less than five or somewhere like eight to five employees. What they're looking for is how can I spend less time on the phone, less time in my truck and spend more time doing the things that I want to do as an integrator. Most of the guys in the residential AV space, whether they came from Colorado or whether they came from stereo business or whatever it may be, they're in it for the love of the audio. They're in it for the love of the video. I doubt too many of them are in it for the love of supporting that customer. Right? It's a necessary evil that has come about.

Ron:  Sadly. I agree with you.

J.B.: Yeah, and I think what I'm trying to do for them is say, Hey, we're trying to make it simple and this is, this is very much a Domotz statement here. We're trying to make it simple for them to adopt. We don't want them spending tons of time doing the installation, right? We want them to be able to use an app on their phone to, I use the terms, I have quoted this for the last five or six years, but get in, get out, get paid. Right? When it comes to a problem, when they get a call from their customer that says, Hey, something's broken. Same mantra, right? Except I don't want them to get into the house or to the system. I want him to get onto their app, fix the problem, and then get out of there. Whether they choose to get paid for that service or not, that's their business. But what I want to make sure that they're doing is spending time doing the things that they love to do and that they want to do and they're not messing around with, okay, how do I VPN into this system? Do I need to do a truck roll? Am I allowed to say shit? By the way, I didn't mean to.

Ron:  I curse on occasion as well.

J.B.: Okay, good.

Ron:  Much more when I'm off camera than on. It's all good.

J.B.: So that's a primary driver here.

Ron:  Mr Seth Rubenstein posted a question and he said, what is the Domotz relationship with thing? Oh, that's a very good question and I appreciate what Fing is.

J.B.: So I'm very Seth. Thanks for watching and thanks for posing the question. Yeah, that's a great question there and I can appreciate Seth bringing that up. So Fing is a company, it's actually a product. It was a master's thesis that was started roughly, gosh, it was almost 10 years ago now by two guys that were in Italy. What they did is they created a network scanning tool for iPhones and Android phones. That, and I'm pretty certain that any guy who was a networking guy who knows networking or a set of networks understands what Fing is. But it's a tool to be able to scan the network you're on and see which devices are connected to your system. The important aspect of Fing as it relates to the Domotz is that Domotz acquired Fing about two years ago. The reason that we acquired it is because we were leveraging the technology that Fing used to discover devices on the network. And we said, Oh, I see this app.

Ron:  Are you there JP? We got a little, there you are. You're back. Your interwebs was not cooperating for a few moments. I can't stand that when that happens. I know, but it looks like we have your back now.

J.B.: Good, good. Well, what I was mentioning is that Fing and the technology that's being used is something that we, at Domotz adopted and we adopted it so much that we decided just to acquire the company. So Fing is wholly owned by Domo. Now the benefit and what f'ing does is when it goes out and scans the network we have, we find the Mac address of that device. We then associate that Mac address to the manufacturer of that product and we take it many steps further through various ways of scanning and through intelligence in the cloud to say that Mac addresses not only this manufacturer but it's also this model number and we can populate the information inside Domotz to more easily assist the integrator with what the devices are on the network. They do not have to just take the layer two Mac address and start guessing at what it is. What we can do is automatically populate what that device is on the network and say that, okay, this is an Apple TV. By the way, it's Model 4. All that the integrator has to do is say this is in the living room on the first floor and it makes it that easy for them. It goes back to my message before, which is how can we make it easier for the integrator to more quickly set up the system, get in, get out and get paid.

Ron:  Got it. Understood. Well, two quick questions. We're at 38 minutes. I historically like to keep these between 30 and 45 minutes, but the conversation is fascinating and you're doing a great job of explaining things. I blinked and somehow 40 minutes just passed by. It's pretty amazing.

J.B.: Sometimes I talk too much.

Ron:  Yeah, no, no worries. Geez, what was I going to ask? So, the first question is if a dealer is listening and they want to learn more about Domotz, what do they need to do? What's the best course of action in terms of them learning more about the company, getting engaged, getting in touch with you? What do you recommend?

J.B.: So the couple of ways in which we can do that. First of all, our website is by far the best way to start getting engaged with us. Our website is a, so D O M O T On that webpage you'll find various ways of communicating not only with us but also some of our key partners. We make our software available through our partner channels. So guys like Luxal, guys like Trend Net Fire Effects. These are ways in which you can work with our partners. We work with a couple of different managed service providers, which you'll find on our network under the ghetto moats tab. So companies like Crica or Axias, Black Wire Designs is another one and several others that are regionally based that you can find. So working with some of our partners, checking out our website. One thing that I also want to point out, Ron, and this is important for guys that are new to Domotz and what we do, we even make our solution, our software available on NAS drives. So some of the NAS drives, especially the more popular ones like Synology, we have agents, what we call agents are software available through their app stores. You certainly can enable that on those NAS drives and then try us for a 21 day free trial. So it gives you a real big opportunity or a good opportunity to try us out, see what we're about and see how easy it is for us to set up a system.

Ron:  Awesome. Are you, JB, you and your company going to be out in Nashville next week at the Pro Source event? Are you guys a member of Pro Source or involved with that group?

J.B.: So I will tell you, Ron, that we're not affiliated directly with any of the different buying groups that may be out there. Okay. But, but I will say that companies like Luxal or Trend Net and some of our partners are associated with those groups and I am more than confident in those companies that they can provide a lot of information about Domotz and who we are. I will say between our sales team and myself, we're trying to get out to more and more events so that we can really show our name and show who we are and show what we have available. Oh, Ron, one, one more thing I should point out for integrators that want to try us, they should feel free to download the Domotz app from the app store, whether that's the Android or iOS app store. In that app, there is a demo that you can run directly. So you can go in and play with different things like how the system looks, how it sets up. And you can see how you can connect to different devices. It's obviously just an in app demo. So you're not going to get any true connectivity to the demo system or the system that's out there. But it gives you a look and feel about how Domotz works.

Ron:  So you see a simulation of what it would be to have connectivity and be getting real data?

J.B.: Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Ron:  Awesome. Well, J.B, it has been a pleasure having you on Automation Unplugged. You've been a great guest. I'm very easy talking to you and I always appreciate that as the person on the other end where my job is to keep the conversation engaged. So thank you for taking time out of your schedule the next time that that is a challenge. That gauntlet has been laid down. But no, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule.

J.B.: Thank you very much Ron. I do appreciate it. Appreciate the opportunity to talking to you and to the audience out there. Thank you.

Ron:  Awesome. Well ladies and gentlemen, that is, this has been another episode, episode 36 of Automation Unplugged. And thanks so much for walking. We're not walking for watching and listening. If you're driving, remember, do not watch, just listen. And I know there's a few of you out there that have told me you like to listen between site visits or client meetings. So I appreciate that feedback. And again, if you, there's any particular guest or types of guests that you want to have on the show, just ping me a personal email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I'll make sure to get that to the appropriate people on my team for scheduling purposes. And next week I'm thinking out loud. No, you know what? I'm pretty busy. Next week I'm going out to Nashville for Pro Source, and then the end of the week I'm going to be up in Orlando for a robot competitions with my high school kids that I mentor. But you know, I actually think I'm going to be doing an episode of Automation Unplugged. I'm going to squeeze that in on Wednesday. So on that note, I'll see you next Wednesday for the next show, show 37. Make it a great day. And I will see you on the flip side. Thank you everybody. Be well.

Show Notes

J.B. is currently the Chief Product Officer for Domotz, ensuring that Integrators and Manufacturers that leverage Domotz have a great product experience. He has over 15 years of experience in the Audio/Video Networking industries, including several years with Control4, where he managed the Audio/Video and Controller product lines. In addition, he ran the Business Development organization for Luxul, a Wired and Wireless Networking company that focuses on the integration channels.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and Links from the Interview:

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