Scotty Benda joined LightRiver in 2022 as chief product officer, where he leads the sales systems engineering, Factory Built Networks®, project management, and netFLEX® customer operations teams. Scotty has 30+ years of experience in R&D, start-ups, global sales systems engineering, and services executive roles from his time at Nortel, Lucent, ONI Systems, and Ciena. His passion for emerging technology, building teams, engaging with customers, and envisioning future-proof designs has helped many service providers evolve their existing networks into profitable, scalable, and optimized solutions. Scotty received a B.S. Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University.
How can telecommunications technologies help humanity?
Disasters often highlight the importance of telecommunications and technology to humanity. We saw how quickly telecom operators responded early in the pandemic by providing network connectivity to makeshift hospitals, enabling telemedicine thus improving social distancing of the sick, enabling remote surgeries, and providing more network capacity to the residential market due to work from home mandates.
The COVID-19 pandemic also significantly impacted the supply chain, component availability, and personnel for building networks. LightRiver focused on redesigning network solutions, leveraging available equipment and network deployments to assist our partners to meet the needs of their customers as best as possible.
What network-related development will have the greatest impact in our industry?
As the telecom industry continues to be ingrained in everyday activities, secure real-time tasks become the absolute requirements for networks in the future. Imagine self-driving vehicles without security or excessive latency, or smart city automated stoplights or automated mass transit systems. What about automated drone delivered groceries, medications, or automated farm equipment in a non-secure, non-realtime environment? Without security and low latency networks, these simple everyday tasks, if automated, would become dangerous and could not become realized.
Quantum encryption is still in its infancy, but it will continue to be enhanced. Network storage and compute are moving closer to the edge, which will help reduce network latency. By the industry standardizing and integrating these technologies, we will be able to move forward in automating the above simple everyday tasks.
What new apps would be a game-changer in the next five (5) years?
Game-changer apps revolutionize the way we work, live, and play everyday. Let’s focus on the work aspect of this question. Over the last two decades, we have seen the transition from all employees working together in an office environment to a hybrid work-in-office-and-work-from-home paradigm. The networking industry helped facilitate this work-life reformation by providing more cost-effective mobile phones and residential bandwidth with reasonable latency to enable simple app-based video conferencing on a mobile and grand scale.
Most companies leveraged mobility, messaging, Google Apps, Webex, Teams, and/or Zoom video conferencing solutions to replace the in-person meetings that used to be the norm. However, these solutions still fell short of meeting in person. New apps that improve communications, workflow, and decision-making will transform the work experience into a more intimate, automated, and immersive environment. LightRiver’s multi-vendor and cross-technology capabilities can assist our partners with edge cloud, DCI, packet optical network design, deployment, automation, and virtualization to enable these game-changing apps.
What value does PTC hold for you/your company?
PTC allows LightRiver to interact with many of its customers and partners in a single location to connect, communicate, and collaborate. The ability to have face-to-face meetings with so many colleagues during PTC’s Annual Conference is a significant benefit for us, especially after the limitations of COVID-19 on in-person meetings. We appreciate PTC bringing together our community of professionals focused on telecommunication innovations and futures.
How does PTC fit with your company’s goals or your overall career purpose?
LightRiver is the leading U.S. partner in packet optical network design, deployment, and automation. Our customers are focused on expanding their footprint, increasing their network capacity, reducing their cost/power per-bit, and automating management of their networks. Like PTC, LightRiver is committed to the continued development and innovation of communication technologies to help our customers achieve their goals.
What advice would you share with current and future graduates interested in this field?
The telecommunications industry includes a vast number of roles and degree fields. It’s constantly changing, keeping the daily work interesting and driving the market in new directions. When you enter the telecom industry, you have the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective and new knowledge. You can take on multiple roles to expand your understanding of this broad industry, and your role in this industry years later will be dramatically different from when you began. I’d recommend looking at a company like LightRiver, with an accelerated training and rotation program that can teach you the base technology fundamentals, provide hands-on training to design, build, configure, and deploy networks as well as provide you roles with customer engagement to give you a taste of sales and services. From there, the world is your oyster. By the way, the most valued employees always give back (help mentor new employees) to the organization.
What is something that not that many people know about you?
I grew up in New York City, Nashville, and Raleigh. Talk about dichotomies. Similarly, I worked on a dairy farm, coached swimming, umpired baseball, worked in a hardware store, and worked in a steel mill before I graduated college and took a role in the telecom industry. I have been very fortunate to be able to draw upon all of these life experiences during my 30+ year telecom career to help me achieve my goals and to be a mentor to others. What many people don’t know about me, is that I get great satisfaction from teaching and mentoring others and helping/watching their careers grow over time.
LightRiver is the premier networking technology partner for service providers, content providers, and large enterprises supplying network design, engineering, project management, installation, professional services, software automation, and warehousing. We are laser-focused on helping customers leverage the latest optical transport, routing, management, software, and automation innovations to upgrade their existing networks to be more cost-effective, scalable, and manageable. Our goal is to provide unparalleled value and superior customer experiences in the design, deployment, automation, and support of mission-critical networks.