As Chief Operating Officer, taking Sigfox to the next level was one of Franck Siegel’s aims. He wanted to show the world that an ambitious company didn’t have to choose between being big and being agile. It could be both.
Inspired by the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple – digital companies that have changed the world – Franck and the team at Sigfox were determined to prove that the company could innovate as it grew and matured. The aim was to transform the company from a French unicorn start-up to a global Internet of Things (IoT) service provider, with a 0G network that covers a billion people in more than 60 countries.
To achieve this goal, Sigfox needed to bring people together across the company to break down siloes and work towards a common goal: delivering excellent service to customers.
QUITE THE CHALLENGE
The company’s auditors were on board but worried there was not enough time to implement changes and meet the requirements set out by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The custodian of the exchange of reliable goods and services for over 70 years, the ISO represents 164 out of the world’s 195 countries and has published over 20,000 standards, covering virtually every aspect of technology and manufacturing. In a world increasingly woven together by digital strands, ISO standards are a common language for companies devoted to quality.
Two years of planning and hard work paid off on the 9th April 2019, when Sigfox was awarded its ISO 9001 certification: the ultimate benchmark for efficiency and customer satisfaction. The business had come together in what can be described as “truly a joint effort”.
What makes this achievement remarkable is that the ISO 9001 standard is rarely awarded to start-ups or scale-ups. This was recognition of everything that Sigfox had achieved so far and its commitment to continuous improvement, which is one of the core requirements of the ISO 9001.
To obtain the standard, Sigfox had to display a strong customer focus, firm leadership and relationship management. It also had to prove its process-driven approach, evidence-based decision-making and dedication to ongoing improvement. The ISO calls these aspects the “quality management system”, a way to define how an organisation meets the requirements of its customers.
Behind its move to secure the ISO 9001 certification was Sigfox’s rapid growth. Driven by award-winning innovation and confidence from investors, who helped the company raise hundreds of millions of euros, Sigfox made giant leaps across its industry. In the last two years, its reach doubled from 30 countries to 60. Its 450 employees now work with global giants like PSA, Michelin, Total and Bosch that manage billions of assets around the globe.
Partnering with these clients meant Sigfox had to demonstrate that it had scaled up and was ready to meet all required standards. At the same time, it set out to show that scaling up did not mean slowing down innovation. In fact, quite the opposite. Supporting the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, the company and its partners delivered a solution from concept to production and certification in just three months. The optional tracking solution helped safeguard the 10,000 athletes and delegates opting into the safety and security scheme throughout the Games. And it didn’t stop there. Over the past year, Sigfox has stayed ahead as one of the most innovative companies in France, filing the fourth largest number of patents.
The success of a start-up like Sigfox is not innovation for innovation’s sake. Rather, it’s about embracing growth and ensuring that the right processes keep the company focussed. With the right structures, the ideas that benefit customers the most are identified and brought to life.
From France to Singapore, from Dallas to Tokyo, Sigfox can now use its ISO 9001 certification to build on its success, explore new markets and continue connecting more devices. With renewed energy, one mission at a time, it can keep searching for ways to break down the hurdles that stand in the way of global IoT adoption: cost, energy consumption and global scalability.