Motorola Solutions has been around for more than 90 years, making it possible for people everywhere to hear Neil Armstrong’s famous words during the moon landing in 1969 via their radio transponder, kicking off the cell phone revolution in 1983 with their release of the first commercial handheld cellular phone, and leading public safety communications innovation every year between.
While these are notable events in the evolution of technology, it seems their most important work to date is happening now.
Today, the tech titan develops cloud-based, unified communication systems that support emergency personnel by helping them do their jobs better — quite simply, they are helping save lives.
“We do things like listen in on live 911 calls and radio conversations among first responders and dispatchers to better understand what they are talking about,” said Lexie Spiro, director of user experience design and research at Motorola Solutions. “From there, teams innovate to make this type of communication easier and more efficient, including building new capabilities that can listen, speak and act just like humans do.”
We connected with Lexie, along with his two colleagues, to learn how Motorola Solutions’ design-first and agile innovation practice is put into action and what impact that has on those keeping us safe.
EMPLOYEES: 17,000 globally; 2,500 locally
WHAT THEY DO: For nearly a century, Motorola has created technical solutions supporting a myriad of verticals. Today, Motorola Solutions is a global leader in mission-critical communications for public safety and security through its command center software, video security solutions and managed and support service.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago, with several other office locations around the world.
CONSCIOUS OF UNCONSCIOUS: In addition to a dedicated diversity and inclusion team, Motorola Solutions adopts and implements unconscious bias training.
FUTURE IS BRIGHT: Employees can invest in their future with Motorola Solutions’ 401(k) matching plan that matches up to 4 percent.
Lexie Spiro, Director, User Experience Design & Research
Lexie leads the user experience team which consists of about 50 researchers, UX designers, visual designers and developers throughout the world. Together, they immerse themselves in their users’ worlds — patrol officers, records clerks, dispatchers — to redefine how public safety works.
What advantages does working for an over 90-year-old tech firm bring that you wouldn’t find at a younger company?
Large tech companies have all sorts of opportunities for people. I’ve been working at Motorola Solutions for 13 years, which some might think would become redundant, but I haven’t been bored for a single day. I’ve had several very different roles at the company, so it always stays fresh and exciting. There are so many different types of products, as well as various customers with distinct goals and needs. The opportunities to change it up and grow are truly endless at a company like Motorola Solutions, especially as our technology continues to constantly evolve.
Talk to us about the problems you solve when you come into work and the technologies you're using or building to accomplish those goals.
Most people don’t think about how 911 call takers and dispatchers operate, but my team and I obsess over them daily. These people have incredibly demanding jobs that are made more difficult by the fact that they often use a series of older legacy software products that weren’t designed to work together. They have to understand and manage many applications while simultaneously dealing with life-threatening situations.
We are mitigating these difficulties by redesigning their workflow and unifying their experience across all of their applications. In the user experience team, we use design software to rapidly create concepts and prototypes so that we can validate our ideas with users in the field and quickly iterate based on what we learn. We then work closely with product team developers to transform these concepts into products our customers rely on every day.
When people think of cloud software, they think of companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Netflix. Motorola Solutions is just like those companies, but we are creating amazing software that can help save lives.”
How does Motorola Solutions encourage and support innovation?
We work to expose our innovators to insights we’ve learned from our customers — these insights are the fuel for innovation. The technology we have access to these days is truly incredible, but only if we shape it in a way that it becomes useful, or indispensable, to our users in their usage contexts.
What’s something about Motorola Solutions that you think would surprise people?
Motorola Solutions is a technology company focused on changing how public safety organizations operate. We sometimes struggle to recruit designers because they see the name and think of it as an old cellphone manufacturer. When people think of cloud software, they think of companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Netflix. Motorola Solutions is just like those companies, but we are creating amazing software that can help save lives.
Rupa Vasara, QA/Automation Lead
Rupa recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with Motorola Solutions. Her automation testing work helps the business reduce manual intervention within testing software and deliver user-friendly applications.
What inspired your move to Motorola Solutions last year?
Who doesn’t dream of working at a company whose radio was used for communication by the first man who stepped on the moon? I was so excited when I received a LinkedIn inbox message from the human resources team at Motorola Solutions informing me of a test automation job opportunity. The job description aligned well with my capabilities and inspired me to take on a new challenge.
Walk us through the technologies you use each day to help you reach your goals.
The day I joined, my manager asked me to become an expert on a new tool for testing. I’ve since mastered that tool and can provide solutions and resolve problems using different technologies for various projects. My team uses Selenium for web applications, in addition to UFT for Oracle ERP as test automation tools for building automation scripts. We also use Jenkins to schedule and run these scripts and generate reports. Moving forward, we will use any additional technologies that add value to our framework.
Who doesn’t dream of working at a company whose radio was used for communication by the first man who stepped on the moon?”
What’s it like to work on your team?
My team in test automation consists of myself and my manager, and together we’re working on building a test automation mindset within Motorola Solutions. My manager has a great attitude towards approaching work. He always encourages me to do the best I can do and to not worry about future obstacles we may face as a team. Recently, my manager and I encountered an unexpected issue while using a tool, but we worked together to develop a different strategy for tackling the project. My manager has been very understanding in these difficult situations, and I appreciate his continuous support and encouragement more than anything.
Max Petersen, Technical Team Lead
Max joined Motorola Solutions a year ago as technical team lead. In his role, he performs engineering tasks, makes decisions on resources and technical changes to various projects, and supports his teammates in their own executions.
Describe your team. What is this team tasked with doing? How many people?
I’m a member of the systems and solutions group within the chief technology office. Our group works on several projects at once, with team sizes ranging from one solo developer to eight people working on transferring a project over to the productizing team. Currently, I’m working with video security engineers on finalizing an integration between their camera and our radios.
Who is your current customer, what are their problems, and how is your team addressing those through technology?
Currently, our customer consists of school districts that already have a radio system in place. In order to add and fully utilize a smart camera system, someone needs to sit in front of a monitor and direct security and faculty to an incident that the camera has detected. Our product removes the need of that person and allows direct integration between the cameras and the radio system so we can give the customers an ability to respond to events more rapidly.
What’s surprised me is the push for Agile development practices and the inclusive nature that isn’t normally expected of a company as large or as old as Motorola Solutions.”
How has your time at Motorola differed from your experience at previous roles? What’s surprised you?
What’s surprised me is the push for Agile development practices and the inclusive nature that isn’t normally expected of a company as large or as old as Motorola Solutions. We have many new world policies in place, like casual dress and great perks that you would normally expect from a startup.