At the recent electronica exhibition in Munich, Electronic Specifier editor Joe Bush spoke with Massimiliano Premoli, Business Development Engineer at Murata, where he explained the company’s message to its customers.
It’s fairly commonplace at trade shows to see new products and solutions as you plod around the exhibition floor. And it’s also fairly normal to hear about how cheap a given offering is.
However, the reverse was true for this particular appointment. During the discussion with Premoli, he was keen to stress a concept (rather than a product), and the fact that the company is placed at an expensive price point – and for good reason.
“We don’t want to fall into a very simple price point,” he began. “You can just browse the internet and find a solution that has the same function for one-third of the cost. The point is how we fill the gap in the mind of the customer, and why they should select Murata over other more cost saving solutions.”
Unfortunately in the wireless space it is the standard to listen to the common names in the industry. So in the minds of the engineers or marketing people, it’s enough to just listen to what they are told.
So the question in the market is why you get solutions that appear to have the same function at such a different price point. Premoli explained that the real value offered by Murata can be found under the hood. “You need a proven secure solution, standard processors, and a standard environment. These are not always available when you select really cheap solutions.
“So the message that I am trying to pass on to my customers this week is to take care and pay attention. You are putting your brand in the hands of someone who is not using standard solutions. For example, for WiFi the expectation is that the various WiFi points will talk to each other without any problems, and without causing any problems – which is different.
“This is not necessarily the case. However, Murata, with its partners, are providing the chipset to solve these access problems. The intercombatibility is ensured by design, because the same company is dealing with the access points and the client.”
Premoli stressed however, that it is a tough job. More than promoting its modules, more than hardware, Premoli spends a lot of his time trying to educate. “Once you have the information you require, you are of course free to make your own selection. If for you, a $2.00 solution is enough, then please be my guest. But you have to know the facts,” he added.
“When we talk about cost and the gap between Murata and our competition we try to explain about what’s under the hood and the ability of our solutions. We have a failure rate below the average and when you buy a Murata component you have 99.9% insurance that you won’t have a problem for the next five-to-eight years.
“We try to establish long-term agreements with our silicon suppliers to offer the same long-term support to our customers. We are using edging technologies for packaging, for example, and our target is to create extremely small, compact and light solutions.”
Premoli added that Murata are trying to create value around its solutions. “We still have a long way to go,” he added. “IoT is something that is still starting (even if that beginning was a few years ago). It’s yet to reach its peak so more and more companies that yesterday were not interested in connectivity are suddenly turning their thoughts towards it. Some of them however, have no clue about it.”
There is a huge misunderstanding around certifications for example. Some companies believe that if they provide a WiFi module they can place the WiFi logo on the box. However, Premoli stressed that this is not the case, and it’s not enough to select a module and be guaranteed that everything will work as expected.
“Customers select Murata solutions not because of hardware, not because of cost but because of the support they can get,” Premoli added. “And this is something we are working on. We have field applications engineers in Europe, the US and Asia to maximise this level of support.
“The first step is to approach the customer, understand their application, and suggest the best technical solution based on performance, and keep in mind what support they need. They may then tell me that they can get a solution for around $2.00, or the software or evaluation kit for free. It’s at this time I tell them that everything that is free has the same value!
“My target is to spread knowledge so that the right people are able to make the right choice. More so than just offering modules. If that’s all you want then you can go to our website and find everything you need. I want to offer something that is not there. And my aim is to spread this knowledge.”