At a recent investor conference, Keysight president and CEO Ron Nersesian said Keysight is at the “heart of the revolution.” What did he mean?

Every industry has innovators who push the boundaries of performance to introduce smaller, faster and more powerful products. This is true everywhere — whether targeting consumer, industrial or business. One thing they all have in common is that at some point, they need to test their innovation, and that is where we come in.

At Keysight, we continuously innovate our test solutions to enable those innovators to create. We constantly develop new tests across semiconductors, electronics, power systems, devices and even networks. We are helping innovators connect and secure the world, anywhere, anytime, with any information — voice, data, video and whatever they can imagine next.

Leadership in 5G seems to be Keysight's top strategic objective, and the company has been very successful, judging by the number of partnerships and demonstrations announced. Based on the insights you’ve gained through these partnerships and trials, what test and measurement challenges remain to be solved to support widespread deployment of 5G?

The industry is still in the early stages of evolving the 5G promise. Similar to what the market saw in 3G and 4G usage growth, 5G promises to connect over a billion new devices. That alone is exciting, but even more exciting are the attributes of those devices. Intermixed with a lot more standard users with their usual higher expectations will be lots and lots of IoT devices, each communicating small amounts of data, virtual and augmented reality systems that require very low latency connections and connected cars moving at highway speeds.

Getting there requires engaging new millimeter wave frequencies to augment existing L-Band and S-Band, using denser waveform modulations, massive MIMO (multiple-input-multiple-output) antenna techniques and antenna beamforming, just to name a few.

To test all this, we not only need to extend the capabilities of individual test equipment, but build entire system solutions aimed at validating specific 5G design implementations. We partner across the 5G ecosystem: chipset makers, device designers, network equipment manufacturers and service providers. We create tests to validate designs of individual features, specific products or end-to-end networks.

There are plenty of exciting technology challenges to go around in every part of the 5G ecosystem, as each part pushes the boundaries of technical innovation.

Another of your growth initiatives is entering new verticals. Which verticals are you targeting, and what successes have you had?

We see a lot of exciting growth areas across many markets — the question is where to start?

For instance, in automotive, our customers are pushing the boundaries in battery manufacturing, power conversion and power loading in the area of e-Mobility. They are also innovating longer range, higher-resolution radar and LiDAR sensors for autonomous driving and integrating e-Call services and broadening the data connections to make a truly connected car.

In IoT, we are seeing an evolution from “best effort” applications to more “mission critical” applications that require higher reliability and more secure wireless connections.

In data centers, we constantly see improvements in data connection speeds, which now top 400 Gbps, requiring a new generation of transceivers.

In aerospace and defense, of course, our customers are always pushing on the boundaries in sensing and communicating.

Obviously, we see a lot more than just these, but you can’t list them all. Suffice to say, we see and are helping drive advancements in a wide range of markets. If it has an electronics board or communicates data, someone always wants to make it smaller, faster or more capable.

Some examples of vertical solutions we’ve delivered include a 28 GHz channel sounding solution we provided to NTT DOCOMO to help them characterize the air interface for new 5G radio communication systems. Also, the joint work we are doing with Qualcomm to develop network emulation solutions to verify advanced 5G features, such as beamforming across global spectrum requirements.

At the recent OFC show, we also demonstrated solutions for 400G/PAM4 in the data center, coherent test and optical component characterization to address the entire customer workflow from design to characterization and validation across all network layers, as well as manufacturing.

We have similar examples in automotive and energy, as well as aerospace and defense.

Within the past few years, Keysight has stepped outside the company’s historic test and measurement market to acquire Anite and Ixia. Discuss the strategy reflected by these acquisitions.

With the pace and breadth of innovation in the market, testing and validation demands are growing as well. The stakes have never been higher.

The industry used to focus mainly to keep up with Moore’s Law for data processing improvements and Metcalf’s Law for data connections, but we are seeing a real drive to also keep up with Nielson’s Law, governing the speed of Internet connections, and Swanson’s Law, looking at the cost of energy. These are driving access to digital information everywhere.

Effectively, our customers are bringing products to market faster than ever and trying to optimize their designs across more design domains.

Keysight has always been good at helping designers simulate their innovation, then test it on the bench and in production. With the addition of Ixia, we add to that the ability to test and monitor its data handling capacity at the industry’s largest scales and to test and monitor its security integrity. With the addition of Anite, we add the ability to do device testing using network emulation solutions, as well as drive testing for signal integrity and user quality of experience.

We are finding these capabilities are critical for our customers, many of whom are migrating from point product offerings to lifecycle product plus service offerings. Their testing needs are growing to include test-in-motion and live monitoring.

Keysight has reorganized its “go to market” strategy to provide more integrated solutions. What prompted this change and how does it benefit your customers?

Customers tend to think of a problem that they have and a solution that they need. In the past, we were organized in a division structure, where multiple product divisions would approach the same customer. We shifted to an “industry solution” structure so that we can provide the customer with a single point of contact who can provide and make commitments from a roadmap standpoint across Keysight.

We also recognized customers would appreciate solution-level test systems that would allow them to get to market faster. To meet that need, we started offering not just test equipment, but complete test solutions for customers. And for those customers who need something faster or cannot afford their own test lab, we offer test-as-a-service locations around the world.

Internally, it is much more than a go-to-market strategy shift — we transformed our R&D teams to address the real world business requirements in several target industries, pairing customers with internal experts who have deep experience.

The number of early market engagements and partnerships we have forged with market-maker companies demonstrates that this strategy is working for us and for our customers.

Where do your electronic design automation tools like ADS fit in the strategy?

Every complex new design starts with a simulation. Before investing in a prototype build, it is important to visualize and analyze a proposed product design. That early design investment can save a designer a LOT of time and expense. Electronic design automation tools play a key role in accelerating the development of better products by integrating design and simulation tools.

You recently introduced an integrated design and test software platform called PathWave. What does this do and how does it do it?

At each stage of development — design simulation, prototype validation and production optimization — different teams create their own test parameters and analysis points. Traditionally, design simulation software tends to operate independently from prototype validation lab systems, which tend to operate independently from production test systems. With PathWave, design, test and analysis work from each stage can be shared with the next. This not only improves the design, but saves a lot of time used to reinvent tests typical in most developments.

PathWave enables customers to accelerate innovation and product development from concept through manufacturing and deployment. It’s the industry's first software platform to integrate design, test, measurement and analysis in a completely programmable environment. It combines design software, instrument control and application-specific test software in an open development environment, allowing users to create high performance solutions fast.

Keysight is also expanding its services business. What’s your vision for this segment and what range of services are you providing?

We recognize that customers are moving faster, and test is not the first thing on their minds. We want to make test easier and more accessible, while at the same time recognizing how test needs are evolving. We have created several test service offerings that meet the evolving needs of the industry, across multiple fronts.

  • Lab Calibration. No matter who makes the equipment, every piece of test gear requires calibration, so we offer complete calibration services. We will calibrate not only Keysight equipment, but lab test equipment from a variety of vendors, as we recognize most customers have more than just one vendor’s equipment.
  • Test-as-a-Service. For those customers who need a design tested quickly, have specific compliance tests they need completed or simply cannot afford their own test lab, we offer test-as-a-service locations around the world.
  • Test Asset Optimization. Many of our customers operate several labs, or even dozens of labs, each that may have duplicate equipment. Some equipment may be oversubscribed, while others are underutilized. We offer the ability to monitor the health status of every piece of equipment and monitor its utilization, so customers can get the most out of their test investments.
  • Loan Pool Services. Many of our larger customers may have underutilized equipment, which they want to use as a loan pool, but they want it stored and maintained professionally. We offer loan pool services, which saves customers on both CapEx and OpEx.

For the future, we are also looking at the kinds of multi-tier service offerings customers want to support their operations in these new, much more dynamic test environments. As customers evolve their product offerings to include integrated services, we want to ensure their test systems meet their emerging demands.

Your role as the chief marketing officer is a new one for Keysight. What are your responsibilities?

As CMO, I see it as my responsibility to get the Keysight brand better known. We have a long history of innovation, but we also have a spirited and dynamic workforce that is just that — a force in the industry. My job, put simply, is to show the world how a team of innovative test developers is helping shape the industries of today and tomorrow. I am fortunate to have a world-class team of marketing talent to help share that message.

You joined Keysight with the Ixia acquisition. Tell us a bit about your background.

My interest and passion in high-technology marketing began with my education: a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto, followed by an MBA from York University. As both an engineer and marketer, I have been fortunate in my career to be entrusted to lead marketing efforts in some exciting, fundamental high-tech areas for the security, routing, switching, telecom and mobility markets. These areas are exciting to me because they sit at the foundation of nearly every other market.

Prior to becoming the CMO for Keysight, I was CMO for Ixia, whose businesses span scalable network testing and network operations monitoring. Before that, I was CMO at Check Point Software Technologies in the network security market and vice president at Cisco, where I led the company's enterprise networking and security portfolio.

My diverse background helps me appreciate fast-changing markets and that companies like Keysight enable those changes. Every day is a learning experience for me, as we evolve how we help impact industries, as well as how we innovate marketing to help share that knowledge. I am thrilled to continue this journey with Keysight as CMO.

Recently, there’s been much discussion about how women are treated in the tech industry. Having spent your career in tech, what’s your perspective? And what’s your assessment of Keysight’s success developing women within the company and encouraging young women to pursue science and engineering careers?

I certainly hope my journey can inspire other young women. As the mother of two girls, this resonates with me deeply. While I want them to make their own career choices, I want them to feel empowered to choose wherever their passions lie.

I would always encourage young women to explore opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. All of us need to encourage women to study challenging topics, strive to be their best and, above all, analyze mistakes so they can learn and improve. Anyone that follows these principles can do anything they dream and be successful doing it.

Creating meaningful opportunities for women is something that Keysight takes seriously, and I believe there are many others in the industry making a valiant effort to provide equal opportunities for all. Still, there is work to be done, both by Keysight and the industry overall, to see actionable results, to see more women getting involved in the field and working their way up in STEM organizations and culture.

I think as the first CMO at Keysight, and as a woman, I can have a meaningful impact on our company’s culture to continue to foster these opportunities. But this responsibility does not fall on just women, it’s something we need to embrace as a culture, and I believe Keysight’s environment and philosophy encourages women to grow and succeed.