IoT will ensure that every industry will eventually find a need for devices to be connected. Within this complex eco-system of sensors, devices, platforms, and solutions, information needs to be transferred. The preferred, most generally available connectivity method is the mobile network.
The SIM card is usually not on anyone’s mind when solutions are developed and tested. But during deployment, enterprises come face to face with a range of challenges. These include how much data has the SIM consumed to date, whether the SIM is still in the device and how problematic SIMs can be suspended.
This is where companies like Flickswitch come to play with their wide range of SIM Management services. The company prides itself on helping companies better manage their device connectivity through building online services to make it easier to manage, spend and work with Mobile Network Operators.
Started in 2007, the Flickswitch holds a local commitment to Kenya and has grown to offer comprehensive SIM management solutions to companies in a range of sectors. The company services various industries, specializing in M2M, telemetry, IoT and mobile workforce applications.
With more than 1000 companies trusting Flickswitch with their SIM management requirements, the company now reliably processes millions of SIM transactions across various mobile networks each year.
These numbers are even set to go higher thanks to the rapid adoption of IoT technology by companies. The company recently partnered with Vodacom Tanzania to avail SIM Manager, a mobile connectivity management platform for companies looking to provide Mobility and Internet of Things (IoT) services.
They also partnered with Airtel Kenya in 2016 to provide SIM control, an online self-service portal that provides enterprises with the tools to manage their mobile connectivity effectively.
Flickswitch was one of our first members when we opened the Karen Office Space in February 2019. We sat down with Andrew Munene, Business Development Manager -East Africa at Flickswitch for a quick chat to best understand the company’s operation across the continent and milestones covered over a decade later:
NG: Tell us more about Flickswitch.
AM: Flickswitch was started in 2007. We help companies to manage large numbers of data SIM cards deployed in devices. Back then, mobile networks were maturing and data devices (not just phones) were being adopted by several industries, most notably the vehicle tracking industry.
It was the very early days of “machine-to-machine” communications – the term “Internet of Things” didn’t exist yet. Companies offering these services started realizing that it is very difficult to manage company SIM data cards at scale. They also realized that the mobile networks were not incentivized to give them the tools to manage their spend on data properly.
Flickswitch saw an opportunity to use technology to take away some of the pain and risk of managing SIMs at scale.
NG: What would you say sets Flickswitch apart from other players in your space?
AM: We are the only company offering truly independent advice on SIM management. We don’t dictate which network to be used and because we can offer prepaid, APN (contract) as well as roaming options from various networks and providers our customers trust us to offer the best solution for their specific needs.
NG: Who has been your biggest client?
AM: We have over 700 business customers across various sectors including all forms of Tracking (vehicles, assets, animals), Security, Fintech (POS restaurant devices), Logistics, Automation, IoT and others. Our SIMs have in some strange places including rhino horns, vultures, aeroplanes, and trains! It might be a little bit hard to single out one client.
NG: Flickswitch has a presence in about five countries. Kindly share some key considerations that companies should look at while trying to expand internationally?
AM: We have operations in several African countries. The biggest lesson has been that every country must be approached differently. Each country has its own types of customers and ways of doing business. Africa is not a country!
NG: How would you describe doing Business in the Kenyan market compared to the other countries you have a presence in?
AM: Kenya has been a great market for us. The market understands mobile services and it has an established technology ecosystem. The introduction of advanced speed governor technology has also given the M2M & IoT industries a great boost.
NG: While getting into the Kenyan market tell us one the assumption you made about the market that turned out to be totally unexpected and how you’ve adapted
AM: It takes a long time to get traction with any new technology. Kenya has proven the same. We have had to take a very patient approach (over 3 years) to get proper traction with both mobile operators as well as customers. But once we built some trust and customers understood that we were fully committed to Kenya and here for the long run the business took off. To get established in a new country you cannot simply fly in a few times and expect things to get going.
NG: What has been Flickswitch’s greatest achievement so far?
AM: Helping our customers to manage SIM cards at scale, and thereby helping them scale their businesses has been the most rewarding result.
NG: You have recorded a great growth in your company since its inception and the future even looks brighter with the adoption of IOT taking shape. What would attribute your business success to?
AM: Company culture, patience, and a great team.
NG: Flickswitch has also been largely involved in accelerating the deployment of IoT in Africa
AM: We have become the largest Pan-African SIM management company, working with several mobile network operators on the continent. SIM management is just one part, but a very important part of IoT deployments.
NG: In Kenya, Flickswitch operates from Nairobi Garage. What would you say is the best thing about joining us?
AM: Nairobi Garage has been great for us. Having an established hub to operate from has helped us get off the ground in Kenya. It has been so great to have a productive workspace not only for day-to-day but also when team members visit Nairobi. The model fits into our company’s style of work which doesn’t count how many hours we work, but rather what the outputs are.