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December 6, 2017 by Shane Eleniak

Smart Home Expert Frank Ploumen Joins Calix Team

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Recently, Frank Ploumen joined Calix as a Senior Director on the Product Line Leadership team, overseeing all things premises related. As Calix continues to enhance our premises solution with our recent EXOS announcement, Frank will play an instrumental role in shaping our vision of enabling a personalized subscriber experience. Let’s learn more about Frank and the opportunity he sees for service providers in this complex marketplace.

Shane: Welcome to Calix, Frank! Tell me a little about yourself and your background prior to joining us.

Frank: My background comes from 19 years with Nokia, formerly Alcatel. I was initially working in Bell Labs at the start of my career. Interestingly enough, it was in DSL and PON, so everything is now full circle. I joined the company in Europe and then came to the US in early 2001 to join the Litespan team in Alcatel. That is what brought me to California. I love it here, have never left.

Over the years, I have worked on system architecture, product management, and services. My focus was initially more on hardware, but over time shifted to solutions and software as this is where I believe we can create more differentiation. I also have done a lot of work with both Verizon and AT&T on their next generation homes, including the definition and launch of U-Verse service at AT&T. In the last few years, I was responsible for Nokia’s IoT strategy, which was a software platform and cloud based.

Shane: Why did you join Calix and what role will you now be playing as part of the Calix team?

Frank: That is a very good question, because being part of a big company has advantages and disadvantages. In general, the bigger companies have a lot of resources, opportunities to work on different things, and you are typically playing in the global market. But at the same time, you are dealing with a huge organization and a lot of stakeholders. In such an environment, driving a new vision or new strategy forward can sometimes be challenging.

So, what really drew me to Calix was the forward-looking vision around EXOS and the idea of taking the premises to the next level, which I think will be very much software and experience driven. I was very much attracted to that vision in a somewhat smaller company where that vision can happen without so many stakeholders to be convinced in between.

Shane: What are you most excited about working with our customers on in this new role?

Frank: After working 10 years on smart home and IoT, I think we finally have a chance to make the home truly smart. Over the past 10 years we have seen mostly point solutions to connect switches, thermostats, etc. It’s connected but not smart. People who have been early adopters of the connected home end up with four or five apps on their phones and they are still the monkey in the middle doing all the work. Is it that much smarter to flip the switch from your phone than it is to walk over to the wall and flip the switch? No, not really, it is really the same thing. Or even worse, it may take more time to flip the switch on your phone.

Now it is time to integrate, automate, and take away mundane tasks for consumers. Where it gets interesting is once everything is connected, it can start to become intelligent. Instead of making the user program something that is so complex, I would like to see a home that learns.

The home should adapt to their habits and desires, without requiring controlling many apps and programming of thermostats, etc. It’s should now all be about the experience.

So, I think our opportunity is to help service providers to first connect everything, and we are already doing a lot of that. And then, start to put some intelligence in the home where it observes and learns those behaviors. If the user does something once, does it twice, then the third time, the home does it for them. And the same can happen with a thermostat or any other behavior that can be learned.

On the business side, it is slightly different. But we have a lot of need for business services that are fairly mundane and manually done, either by IT people or remote services that are quite expensive.  These things could be automated by a piece of equipment.

So those are the opportunities I am most excited about – what can we do to make things more intelligent and more of a game changer for our customers.  

Shane: On the lighter side, tell us something about yourself that would help the Calix Community get to know you better.

Frank: Well, I used to be a pretty fanatic sailor. It has been awhile since I have been out, and I always wish I could find more time to be on the water. But, I used to be semi-competitive in sailing. I have done a lot of races, including English Channel crosses and in the Caribbean.

I hope you all will get to meet and interact with Frank as EXOS continues to grow. For now, please welcome him to the Calix community.