AOPEN Solutions: Disrupting the Digital Landscape through Cross-Platform Business Solutions

Stephen Borg | CEO | AOPEN Solutions
Stephen Borg | CEO | AOPEN Solutions

The Internet of Things (IoT) market is growing, with the number of connected devices worldwide expected to grow to 64 billion by 2025 (CAGR of 21%). Despite such escalating market demand, the IoT space is marred by proprietary single-point solutions that do not consider flexibility across multiple use cases or opportunities for customers & partners. There needed to be a simpler way to address some of the key barriers in adopting digital transformation or applied IoT.

AOPEN Solutions’ vision is to be an enabler of growth for companies and organizations looking to embrace applied IoT and digital transformation. Its group comprises of two entities: AOPEN (devices) and meldCX (software platform), providing bundled end-to-end solutions for individuals and organizations looking for digital transformation.

Positioned uniquely and strategically under ACER Group, the company has access to a multitude of technology heavyweights companies such as Acer ($9 Billion market cap) & Wistron Group ($28.5 Billion Market Cap), giving itself the ability to grow and scale quickly.

Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between CIO Look and Stephen Borg, the CEO of the company, in which he shares the key insights of how AOPEN drives the growth of businesses with its proven solutions:

Describe AOPEN Solutions cutting edge solutions, which address all the needs of their customers. 

60% of IoT projects stall at the Proof of Concept stage (2017, Cisco).

Most companies are trying to innovate, facing obstacles and barriers along the way. Not many are in the business of trying to help those facing the obstacles and barriers. This is where we position ourselves. We are part of the first wave of companies in the business of assisting others going through their digital journey.

Traditionally, AOPEN is a hardware business. Founded in 1996, AOPEN specializes in manufacturing cutting edge commercial-grade hardware. Our devices have been tested through and through – its fanless and solidstate have been engineered to run in a variety of rough environments 24/7.

Through years of expertise, devices innovation and partnerships, we are looking to disrupt the digital landscape and embrace the rise of Internet of Things (IoT).

The meldCX platform was birthed two years ago, so that we could offer not just IoT but applied IoT and stay true to our calling to disrupt the digital landscape. The perfect devices companion, the meldCX Platform and its Cloud Console allows users to build, manage, deploy, schedule and troubleshoot apps and multiple devices remotely through a single pane of glass.

Ever since then, meldCX has expanded to offer white-label SaaS modules, with a focus on applied IoT and frontline worker. The modules are m-intelligence (machine learning and artificial intelligence module), m-reception (visitor sign-in module), m-kiosk (self-service ordering module for hospitality and retail) and signCX ( a universal software player that can talk to any CMS and operating system allowing flexibility digital content management module for signage).

What does this mean? 

Software-wise, there is no need for our customers to have their developers build infrastructure – they can go straight to building custom experiences using the tools in our library, leverage one of our partner apps, use any CMS or utilize existing web assets. Most customers could simply retrofit new solutions on an existing infrastructure with little to no issue through the meldCX platform, enabling them to rapidly build, deploy and harness the power and capabilities of IoT.

AOPEN hardware, combined with meldCX platform and software is truly the bundled plug-and-play applied IoT solution that is easy to deploy and use, efficient and costeffective.

Have a POC idea in mind? Come speak to us! We have some great experience and the expertise to draw upon.

Describe in detail about the work culture and the values that drive AOPEN Solutions. 

Happy people are more productive at work. It’s a fact. This is why we’ve made culture a priority. We want to foster an environment that is open and relaxed – where people can speak up and be heard, and feedback given and received.

We are like a startup within a large organization: strategically placed within the Acer Group, but nimble enough to innovate and cut through red tape for customers and propose solutions that adopt technology across the whole group. In our team, we know that customers are more easily attracted to great products and amazing people are more easily attracted to great culture. Culture happens whether or not you plan for it, so it is paramount that every team member participates to create a culture that they love.

The key to every business is always two-pronged:

  1. it is about having a can-do attitude when providing customer service, ensuring that your work with the customer is detail-oriented and of an exceptional standard;
  2. and elevating team members’ focus, helping them grow and understanding individual/ team drivers.

At the end of the day, we are committed to our passion for delivering great experiences – not just for customers but also team members. We aim for employees to be more than just colleagues – but actual work friends. Work is a fundamental pillar and needs to be a place that you look forward to, by being welcomed for your individuality, thoughts and what you can achieve – why wouldn’t you make it fun? Our busy employee social event calendar lets our staff take a breather from the stress of work. Be it birthdays, cultural celebrations, company milestones, or just because – we like to celebrate life together.

What technologies are you leveraging to make their solutions resourceful and bringing advancement in the industry? 

There’s a huge trend in machine learning and machine vision: applying artificial intelligence to IoT (as with our m-intelligence Smart Scale solution – now listed on Intel’s Solutions Directory).

As an Intel Solutions Alliance partner, AOPEN Solutions utilizes powerful Intel technology, specifically Intel Openvino Toolkit for optimization across various formats and hardware outputs, as well as Intel Movidius Compute Stick for low power, high performance rapid inference on the edge.

There is also increasing demand for gesture-based and facial recognition analytics. This tracking and analytics can be applied to digital signage, POS, Kiosk, any service environment with technology that can eyeball track, recognize age and gender, and dynamically serve up relevant content depending on who is actually viewing. We are currently working on a few POC projects for 2020 expected rollout.

What are AOPEN Solutions future aspirations? What strategies are they undertaking to achieve those goals? 

As a team, we’ve made it our mission to:

  • Democratise IoT and Digital Transformation by providing tools & services for easy adoption and use
  • Leverage our Global Expertise, providing access to a community of customers and partners.
  • Ensure any solution or service we provide is a building block for growth with open integrations, flexibility and designed to unparalleled standards.

We have a three-tier Go-To-Market plan:

  • SELL TO → Identify Greenfield problems that we can work with select customers (through incubation) and create groundbreaking technologically-advanced use cases
  • SELL WITH → Engage together with partners to enable problem-solving and execution leveraging AOPEN solutions resources and expertise
  • SELL THROUGH → Leveraging channels to sell, reduce friction and overall TCO cost for the end customer.

This strategy allows us to implement new technologies and rapidly scale, whilst making sure customers and partners are looked after and nurtured.

About the Leader: 

Stephen Borg is a solutions-driven strategy development director specializing in identifying and creating opportunities in greenfield markets. His background is in capability development and research-led strategy with a particular passion for lateral problem solving and creating tailored results to satisfy partners and their customers. With key skills in strategy and design-led thinking, he has helped multinational companies expand markets, explore and pioneer new niches and introduce game changing technology into competitive spaces. His expertise spans technology and digital media, retail environments, customer experience, innovation, and building business partnerships.

Stephen likes to walk the industries he is operating in, he has a strong background in retail innovation working both for retailers and Global ICT firms. He is the Chairman of a large Fin-Tech business called Remitter, and held board positions in two retailer payments companies, is also the Chairman of two affiliated group companies founded the software platform business meldCX and a dedicated AI, Machine learning business.

Previously Stephen helped create the concept of Chrome for commercial devices, working closely with Google executives. Commercial Chrome has been widely adopted in the Kiosk and signage space and the range of devices are the fastest growing within the group. AOPEN is still the only provider of Commercial Chrome Devices.