Brand Focus: Steve Muccini of Ihij

Steve Muccini, director of marketing for remote management services company Ihiji, has more than 20 years experience driving strategy and marketing initiatives for technology-based B2B companies.

Having worked with Bestfit Mobile, Digby, Dell and Corporate Software (now Insight), Muccini joined Ihiji earlier this year with a focus on expanding the company's current and prospective business through digital marketing, automation and content creation initiatives in the US and abroad in light of the rapid adoption of the Internet of Things. Muccini talks with HiddenWires about Ihiji's expansion in the EMEA region as well as what the company has planned in the near future.

Steve-Ihiji-400x317When and how did you and your partners develop the idea for Ihiji? When did you realise it was a viable idea?
Ihiji founders, Stuart Rench and Mike Maniscalco were running a successful AV integration business in Florida in the U.S. What they quickly found is that they were spending a lot of money sending support technicians in their van to client sites for issues which, in most cases, could be resolved with a simple device reboot. Around the time they were running this integration business, most of the devices they were installing, including audio-visual gear like TV displays, receivers, controllers, lighting, speakers and more, were all starting to become IP-enabled. That meant that devices were now streaming Internet content, allowing users to change settings or they were just communicating their status over the network. In all cases this required that they be connected to the home network and then to the Internet. As both Maniscalco and Rench were also engineers, the next logical step was obvious. They needed to build a solution that would help them to run their business more efficiently while saving them money and improving their client experience at the same time. The solution they built to run and manage their integration business became what is ihiji Invision, remote managed services portal. Now they were solving problems before clients even called their support line with an issue. That is called proactive support.

What steps did you take to get the concept off of the ground?
The team founded Ihiji in 2009 and immediately found themselves with a following of like-minded integration companies who also understood the opportunity to use the Internet, to be able to monitor, diagnose and resolve many of their client’s most nagging support issues. Integrators only lacked the technical know-how to remotely manage these networks and devices in a safe and secure manner. Using the Ihiji appliance and cloud-based portal, they could now accomplish this. After a few industry buying group and trade conferences, the grass-roots effort to promote Ihiji paid off and we haven’t looked back yet. In the U.S., we have been awarded the CE Pro brand leader award for three years running, with 30-percent of the top-100 integrators using our platform.

Ihiji is billed as the manager of the 'Internet of Things'. How does Ihiji work exactly?
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the concept of how IP-enabled devices will interact with each other and us through the network. Two things are required: IP-devices and a network. Ihiji gives integrators of AV, security, home automation, computing and network technology and devices the capacity to monitor any IP-enabled device remotely from their office. When any of these monitored devices at their client sites encounter an issue or goes down, the integrator’s technicians will be notified through email or SMS of the trouble. In many cases, they are able to remotely diagnose the problem in a matter of minutes. Once defined, a system power cycle, settings adjustment or soft reboot can get the client back online in many cases, before they even realize there was a problem. At a high level, it is also possible to get information about all of the (IoT) devices on the network and even see an entire system map. For the IoT devices where Ihiji provides an API connection, a technician can also securely tunnel into that device’s settings to make adjustments to resolve issues, or as a convenience to their client. An entirely new service has emerged out of helping clients to manage the Internet of Things (IoT). This is something we are calling Remote Managed Services and it is a recurring monthly revenue opportunity for integrators built entirely on the Ihiji platform. To get started, an integrator simply needs to connect an Ihiji appliance as part of each client project and then sign in to the SaaS portal to monitor, diagnose and resolve trouble and eliminate truck rolls.

IHI-APP-500-UK_5-293x400Remote systems management is one of the most important tools for integrators who take time and cost on service calls very seriously. What does Ihiji offer that should make it the go-to management system for integrators?
Ihiji has been delivering a package of customisable sales and marketing materials and contracts called the Client Care Plan. Using these materials and education from our account managers, integration business owners can put into place a true services plan which will not only get their service call costs under control, but will even give them the opportunity to sell this new service at a great profit margin. In addition, Ihiji has also launched a targeted Remote Managed Services MasterClass. This 14-week programme is currently available only in the U.S. and will give integrators an entire programme to help them to transform their business into one geared around services.

How are you getting the word out in the EMEA region about Ihiji? What has the response been like from integrators?
We recently won the CEDIA EMEA Best Innovative Product of 2015 award and currently we distribute our products through Habitech in the UK. We have seen an exceptional reception from the EMEA market that is clearly seeing the benefits and value to their business. Here is a great article published on the CEDIA EMEA site about multi-award winning EMEA integrator Archimedia and their massive AV, navigation and management project on a couple of luxury super yachts, both of which are managed by Ihiji gear and services.

What’s next for Ihiji?
Ihiji is looking now towards CEDIA Expo in Dallas in October where we will be launching a very exciting new SaaS tool that is completely complementary to the existing Ihiji Invision remote network management tool. As we get closer to October, we will be providing more information on this solution, which we believe will make it significantly easier to setup and manage a recurring monthly technology service of any kind. If you are at the show, please stop by booth #4938.

Llanor Alleyne is the Editor of HiddenWires.