Open Systems adds experienced CEO Jeff Brown to drive expansion into North America

Open Systems will be placing less emphasis on its SD-WAN legacy, and more on the broader capabilities of their platform.

Jeff Brown, Open Systems’ CEO

Swiss-headquartered Open Systems has formally announced the appointment of Jeff Brown as CEO. Brown, who has been a successful CEO at multiple times in the past, comes to Open Systems to lead which the company intends to be a hyper-growth strategy, that will include an emphasis on expanding in the North American market. Martin Bosshardt, the company’s founding partner, who has been CEO of Open Systems for the last 17 years, will remain involved in the business.

“The founder was instrumental in bringing me on,” Brown told ChannelBuzz. “This has been a great business. We grew organically in Switzerland and began to move to the US, but the challenges of going into hypergrowth in order to execute this were not in Martin’s wheelhouse.”

Brown’s first CEO stint was at wireless healthcare startup Data Critical, which he joined in 1994, took to an IPO in 1999 and sold to GE Medical Systems in 2001. He then joined RadioFrame Networks as CEO in 2001 and grew that business until it was sold in May 2009.

“RadioFrame was a cellular bay station play, whose biggest customer was Nextel and which was sold to Motorola,” Brown said. “I then became CEO at Kineto Wireless, a wi-fi calling company, which was sold to an infrastructure company in 2014.” Following that, he was CEO for three years at Accuris Networks, which makes wi-fi hubbing solutions, and then Sierra Monitor Corporation, an Industrial Internet of Things company that was bought by MSA in June of this year.

Brown took most of his prior companies to acquisition, but he emphasized that this isn’t what he was brought in to do here.

“The employees asked me this when I joined,” he said. “However, I don’t think I ever set out to sell a company. Sierra Monitor was a 40-year old company, which we took to a 60 per cent gross margin, and raised the growth rate from 5 per cent to in the 20s. That led to us being offered a 50 per cent premium over our all time high, so naturally, we sold.”

Brown arrives at Open Systems at a time when the company is consciously transitioning.

“We grew organically in Europe for a long time, which included starting to move to a SaaS model 15 years ago, before SD-WAN took off,” he said. “The platform is incredibly deep and strong and 15 years in the making. More enterprises are moving services into the cloud, and since the network addresses that, the  network has to move into the cloud as well. That’s where we are very strong. The challenge is to expand that and get the message out. As more people recognize the depth of our service offering, it’s easy to compare us to traditional SD-WAN or service providers. Some of the big service providers have issues with international support, and we are very good at that.”

Brown also emphasized that Open Systems has a very high Net Promoter Score.

“Customers love us and our NPS scores are off the charts,” he said. “We have to translate that into the U.S. market. We are the best-kept secret in America right now, but we are starting to see some movement, including getting higher profile customers.”

Going forward, Brown said that one major change will be on what the company emphasizes as its core capability.

“We led a lot with SD-WAN before, but what we have is much broader than that,” he said. “We will emphasize the platform and services. We see things going in that direction. There will be some fairly bold announcements on the analytics side, as well as new services layered on the platform going forward.”

Open Systems will also be giving much more emphasis to the platform’s strengths around security.

“A lot of customers have focused on connectivity in this space and shied away from security,” Brown said. “It has been a black hole for them. We can help them with that, with things like SOC as-a-service. We will be expanding on that through organic development, and non-organically, through acquisition or through partnering.”

Equinix and Microsoft are already big strategic partners for Open Systems, and they have been expanding their channel presence.

“We have some very good partners,” Brown said. “We have signed Intelisys up both domestically and internationally. We will be adding more feet on the street, both internally and with partners.”

Brown concluded by emphasizing that his task is to make the things that have made the company successful in Europe better known in North America.

“The takeaways are the depth of the platform, and the love that customers have for us,” he said. “We just need to translate that in the US. Today we are in 184 with Switzerland Germany and the UK being the big markets. We just need to translate our message into North America.”

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