Enabling and accelerating IoT innovations to help bring designs to market
Product Marketing Manager for Keysight Technologies, Barry Scott, leads Keysight’s IoT program office, with a mission to help accelerate the IoT innovations that connect and secure the world. He has held various marketing leadership roles over his 30-year career at HP, Agilent and now Keysight, with responsibilities encompassing product planning, product marketing, application development, and support. Barry holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Oregon State University.
Keysight Technologies is a US electronic measurement company, delivering wireless, modular and software innovation, within wireless communications, aerospace and defence and semiconductor markets. The company employs some 12,600 people in over 100 countries.
Can you tell us about your current role with Keysight Technologies and main responsibilities?
I’m the IoT Program Director and my responsibilities are twofold – first, to track IoT market trends and device-testing challenges, and second, to mobilise Keysight resources to address the challenges that arise. Our intent is to enable IoT innovators everywhere and to help them bring their next design to market.
How did you come to work in this role?
I’ve a long background in marketing, especially in product management. When my group decided to staff an IoT program office, I was a natural fit because of my ties to both R&D project work and IoT marketing activities. Having managed distributed teams for almost 20 years, this was also a plus as our IoT program works across many Keysight organisations in multiple time zones.
Why did you choose to work for Keysight – how would you describe its proposition to the market and what makes the company unique?
When I graduated from Oregon State University with an electrical engineering degree, Hewlett-Packard was known as a fantastic place to work, with a strong focus on people development and innovation. I felt fortunate to receive a job offer from HP’s test and measurement group, working with benchtop and automated testing equipment.
When HP spun off Agilent Technologies in 1999, I chose to move with the T&M business that went with Agilent. And then in 2014, when Agilent spun out the T&M business as Keysight Technologies, I again chose to stay with the T&M business.
Working at Keysight has been a phenomenal experience. As a pure-play, $4.3 billion T&M company, we’re much more centred on our end customers and solving their test challenges, enabling them to innovate and be more productive. We’ve made a number of key acquisitions to bolster our solution set; we’ve increased our R&D investment by a third and we’ve doubled-down on our efforts to deliver whole end-to-end solutions rather than a patchwork of products. The work environment is more dynamic, more customer-connected than it’s ever been. I feel like the DNA that started in Bill and Dave’s garage so many decades ago is alive and well within Keysight.
What will your presentation be covering?
Engineers designing edge devices for the IoT face a number of increasingly daunting challenges. In addition to the usual schedule pressures, their testing tasks are getting tougher – think rapidly evolving standards, plus higher expectations for battery life and device security. We’ve created the 5C’s framework to highlight the top challenges; I’ll be talking about these 5C’s, what they are and why they matter.
5G and its capabilities offer enormous opportunity – is it Keysight’s major focus, how long have you been active in this area and what type of projects are you involved with?
5G is a major investment area for Keysight, and it’s been a focus for as long as we’ve been an independent company. Getting an early start has enabled us to be solution leaders, to develop an end-to-end 5G test platform, and it’s allowed us to deliver solutions at scale. As a side note, even while we invest heavily into 5G, we’re already looking ahead to 6G.
From an IoT perspective, 5G will enable the factory of the future. Its reliability, low-latency and massive connectivity will allow precise control of factory automation. It will also unlock benefits in industries like automotive and healthcare. It’s a ground-breaking technology and it’s exciting to be involved in its deployment.
How important are sensors for Keysight – can you see further advances in this area?
Keysight wouldn’t exist without sensors! All of our measurement instruments – be they digital multi-meters, oscilloscopes, or network analyzers – by definition have some kind of sensing input to them. We sense voltage, current, temperature, light, and more. We use a mix of commercial and custom parts to pair ADCs with signal conditioning to maximize measurement speed, reduce noise, and deliver accurate, traceable results. With our own in-house IC fab, and decades of design expertise, we’re able to deliver measurement capabilities that aren’t available anywhere else.
What are your thoughts on rising automation within industry, is Keysight heavily involved in this area?
It’s fascinating to watch the progress; it’s unrelenting, and it’s inevitable. Automation can improve worker safety, reduce costs, and improve product quality. Keysight provides tools and solutions that test the electronics, communications, power and security that enables this automation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hugely disruptive, but Keysight has helped companies to keep innovating, via the Innovate Anywhere program – could you provide a few details on this and also if you have managed to work remotely?
One week our customers were in their offices with a full suite of tools and test gear. The next week, they were working from home, in some cases without the tools they needed to be productive – Keysight saw this as an opportunity to help. The Innovate Anywhere program offered free 90-day access to our key software platforms. It was popular and hopefully eased the transition a little bit for our customers.
On a personal note, I’ve been working at home now for almost four months. Keysight was quick to take action when the virus began to spread. Employees shifted to home offices, and travel was halted in early March. Things have since opened up a bit, but with significant safety precautions to protect our people and video calls have become an indispensable tool.
What are your thoughts on the rise of virtual events, given that attending in person at conferences and seminars appears less favourable?
The technology that enables virtual events continues to improve. While I personally long for the days of face-to-face events, I’ll admit that I don’t miss the long hours sitting in airplane seats traveling to and from event locations! While I think there will always be a place for face-to-face events, it will be interesting to see how virtual and physical rebalance after the coronavirus recovery.
What are your views on cyber security issues – do you feel there have been advances in this area?
It’s a bit frightening, but consider this: As the number of deployed IoT devices grows exponentially, so does the cyber-attack surface. And since these IoT deployments are moving increasingly into ‘mission critical’ areas – like electrical grid, automobiles, healthcare, and industrial process – compromised IoT devices can be life-threatening. Cybersecurity is extremely important to our well-being and safety.
There have been significant advances in cybersecurity, especially in the awareness of its importance. However, as soon as one weakness is patched, another is discovered and exploited – it’s a game of cat and mouse. This is why Keysight staffs an Application and Threat Intelligence (ATI) research centre that scans for threats continuously, to keep customers of our cybersecurity solutions up-to-date and safe.
Keysight places a lot of emphasis on education and improving its clients and the wider community’s knowledge – is this something that sets the company apart from others?
One of Keysight’s core tenants is to engage and support our communities, both those we live in and those we engage at work. Education is a key element of that engagement. We recently launched our online Keysight University to share engineering essentials; we present a continuous stream of webinars to share measurement fundamentals, market trends and new technologies; we also offer teaching kits to help professors create engineering coursework. All of these are ways in which we can help enable and accelerate innovations for our customers.
How do you achieve a work/life balance and how do you switch off away from work?
My work life and personal life used to have clear boundaries; now that line has blurred. With work-from-home, I find myself working on and off throughout my waking hours. But I now have the luxury to take breaks – run errands, sneak in a workout, attend to family – which used to be more difficult. So, the flexibility gained offsets the loss of the 8-5 workday.
I’m fortunate to live in the state of Colorado, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which is an outdoor-lover’s paradise. When I want to switch off, there’s backpacking, mountain biking, and skiing close by. And there’s good craft beer close at hand as well.
Hear more from Barry at the Virtual Sensor Show & Congress by registering here.