Motorola Solutions, the mobile solutions business that split from Motorola Mobility in 2011, has been evolving over the last few years to focus more and more on services. Last year, the company's Australian subsidiary launched an Innovation Centre, a creative hub just outside Melbourne to help its partners get hands-on with the wide ranging possibilities of mobility solutions, to have idea generation, and a creative process going to mainly show its service capability.

Now Motorola Solutions, which globally spends $1 billion on R&D, through its Australian business plans to expand the Innovation Centre to Western Australia to take advantage of the opportunities in the mining sector.

Mobility a godsend and a nightmare

Motorola Solutions Australia, general manager, Neale Joseph, says the definition of a solution today is different from a year ago, and will still be different in two years. ARN sat down with Joseph about the centre's progress one year on.

How has the Innovation Centre performed in the last year since its launch?

Neale Joseph (NJ): It has been a game changer for us. Not many people invest in something like this We are very happy to invest in Australia. We see this as an ongoing part of our investment in our partners, our customers and industries to support innovation. It has exceeded our expectation in terms of customer interaction. It has helped us understand our customers better. It saw in excess of 150 visitors in 40 weeks.

What have been the goals and mantra of the Innovation Centre, and the participation of the channel in the centre?

NJ: Our whole aim is to get closer to the customer, bring people there, have ideas- generation, and the creative process. It has become part of the conversation now, "Why don't you come to the Innovation Centre and let's sit down and have a conversation?"

The centre is used by the entire organisation... my customer base and the channel are the most prolific users. It was launched a year ago, and took about eight months to design and build. It's effectively a place to showcase our solutions in an environment in which we could collaborate. On average, it sees about three to four visits a week, and has about seven different environments. Visitors often deep dive into industry trends, and then from there it becomes a very, very interactive discussion.

Before the centre opened, we had BHP stress testing a brand new [system] across rail facilities in Pilbara, and across a number of applications. They were very happy with the outcome. It showed them that decisions they are making are future proof. How has the centre improved or grown since last year?NJ: There are new elements in the existing module. In the retail space, we launched Motorola Concierge, which can help turn any TV into a touchscreen, helping retailers in loyalty schemes and linking to a smart device. It's all about efficiency. What is the most popular module for the centre?

NJ: We have had a broad mixture of customers -- transport, minerals and energy, government and public safety, health care and education. For retail, we launched a solution called a connected shopper, to connect to a retailer, which can track when you walk into a shopping centre, and will try to match your online searches for competing prices. That is where the real value proposition is evolving and that is where the channel can play.

Where do you see the centre going from here?

NJ: The technology we have today will have evolved. There will be much more on the application and integration side. It will become more of a lab, where people come and develop solutions from scratch. It will be bigger.

We have a space of 50 square metres I could see us doubling that, both based on number of users, and the evolution of users. We are thinking of one in another location.

What is the most likely destination for a second office?

NJ:Western Australia - to support the mining business as we do a lot in public safety. It's also close to Singapore, and is as easy to get to from South Australia. People are more than happy to come there. We have an ongoing budget for the development.

Mobility regularly rates as high on priorities for partners. What is your take on the rate of adoption?

NJ: From a consumer perspective, Australians have always been fast adopters of technology. There are more tablets in Australia than people - in both enterprise and consumer. The isolation of Australia from geographic perspective has made people more attuned to being more open minded about their thinking both globally and tech perspective.

From a customer perspective, I think people are all challenged by having to do more with less. There is a real imperative to be more efficient and productive to reduce cost and also have their people be more informed and be able to do more things with more accuracy. What surrounds all of that is the infrastructure that needs to be implemented and managed.

What is your message for the channel?

NJ: The market is vibrant, the opportunity is vast, and together we can drive tremendous outcomes.