“The future of Location Based Information and Marketing is not just about knowing where you are but its also about knowing who and what is around you and delivering contextual information to you” – Erik Bjontegard
The Location Based Services industry has taken off and looks all set for a great future. Some interesting business models have emerged and Total Communicator Solutions seems poised to revolutionize the way the location based businesses work! Who better than Mr. Erik Bjontegard, CEO of Total Communicator Solutions Inc to talk us Geoawesome people and provide his insights into this wonderful industry.
Please tell us about Spark Compass and Total Communication Solutions?
Erik: I founded Total Communicator Solution in April 2012 after having been an executive at Qualcomm’s corporate R&D division. Qualcomm develops a lot of great technologies and provides these to developers. I saw a need to establish a solution and platform provider that can leverage their technologies into usable and powerful platforms and end-to-end solutions. So I founded the company. We developed a complete precise mobile marketing platform with dynamic mobile apps – the Spark Compass platform. We are just now coming out of stealth mode and are launching it with some powerful brands and partners. We are working closely with Qualcomm, in particular their Qualcomm Retail Solutions Inc division. We launched our first commercial Spark Compass platform powered app and marketing platform in their both at the National Retail Federation show in New York City this January.
Why Mobile Marketing? Whats your Vision behind it?
Erik: Mobile devices have already changed the way we live. Now, extending the use of the phones past voice calls, web browsing and texting into the next level of use – based on contextual awareness – the ability to deliver the right message, content and information to the right person at the right time and place will be the next use of the mobile devices. We look at using context and contextual awareness as the next intelligent means of communication. Now marketing can actually become intelligent – its delivering something of value to the user – something he or she wants, at the right time and place. All of a sudden, marketing has become something that enhances the user’s daily life. Naturally its a big responsibility to us in this industry – we must not succumb to delivery messages randomly and at all times. That’s where the power of contextual awareness and contextual intelligence comes in. We have incorporated a lot of this into our Spark Compass platform already and are constantly adding new levels of intelligence.
Is Location the currency of Marketing? Your thoughts on it.
Erik: Location is definitively a currency of marketing. But only a part of it. More important is context. What is the situation the person is in? What time is it? What are they doing? Then – combing past behavior with current context – and location is part of context – we can combine this with preference engines and predictive models – and all of a sudden we can indeed deliver the right message to the right person, at the right time and place. With our new proximity beacons we can deliver location inside – and with new levels of accuracy – determining what users are near specific locations. Combining all of this is very powerful, so, yes location is part of the currency of marketing.
Could you explain the vision behind your interesting business model of providing a platform for your clients instead of being a direct-standalone-location based marketing app?
Erik: There are 100,000s mobile apps that offer value and entertainment to customers. Our customers are typically big brands and they have a very big asset in their brands. We propose to help them expand their brands – not our own apps. We therefore provide the tools, the plumbing if you want – to deliver their branded messages to their fans. Why would they want to pollute their branding, their messaging, their packaging and suggest to their fans and customers that they need to download a 3rd party’s app to interact wit their brand? While I understand why many app and solution providers want to be the next Facebook and Twitter – and hopes to become the “uber-app” (NOT the car service) that becomes a standard, I feel that this is not providing the right service to our customers. We work to enhance their branding and drive a loyalty between them and their customers and fans. We do this by ensuring that it’s the BRAND’s app we build and interact with, and then we enable the BRAND to communicate with THEIR fans.
Could you tell us how Spark Compass is different in terms of location-proximity tech Applications and How you drive the value of your clients?
Erik: Proximity detection and high precision location ability – even inside – will become a big and disruptive differentiation in the ways brands communicate with their fans and customers. We have been working closely with QRS as they have built their Gimbal platform – which now incorporates BLE beacons. Our Spark Compass platform is fully integrated with this already. So – we can have multiple geo-location defined in the platform. One of our customer has over 1,000 locations identified, and each has multiple geo-fences. With our Spark compass platform it is easy to upload files of location information, then create circles of influence circular geo-fences or draw polygon fences outlining parking lots or areas of a city. When a user enters a facility with our beacons, then the same app will present information based on that specific location – and report back to our Spark compass platform that this particular device is in proximity with the beacon. We have one customer that has access and can integrate with over 500 beacons placed across one of the biggest cities in the world, we are installing beacon networks in the San Diego convention center this week and will have over 1,000 beacons place throughout a series of convention floors and across downtown San Diego, We are also installing a proximity beacon network in a prominent local hospital, the first of its kind in the world. these kind of networks will be used to create new and hyper location based information offers and intelligence.
Kindly tell us about your cooperation with Qualcomm and the technologies that Spark Compass utilizes for Positioning?
Erik: We have a powerful relationship with Qualcomm and their many divisions and it is beyond just the numerous licensing agreements we have with them. Their objective is to provide technologies and spur eco systems based on their technologies. Having been an executive myself there, I personally know the importance and value of relationships with developers and solution providers such as Total Communicator Solutions. While we utilize a lot of their technologies that are available to others such as Gimbal and Vuforia – we also work on other projects that I cannot comment on. We will be making more announcements in the next couple of months.
As a successful entrepreneur and Industry expert, what’s your advice to Geoawesomeness readers who are budding GEO entrepreneurs?
Erik: Love the terms “GEO entrepreneurs”! I strongly believe in making sure we provide value to the end users. So i suggest your readers think about use cases that you yourself would like to have on your devices. Find others that are like minded. Read and study. Find someone in the field and ask questions, offer help. This space is new and open, there are a lot of room to us all – now is the time to jump on it. I keep saying to my team – lets not just talk about it – lets build it. Take action and go for it!
Spark Compass has offices all over the world and a lot of young talent these days would love to work with Start-ups, any advice on what you look for in interns and young graduates wanting to join you?
Erik: same as above – come up with ideas and concepts, present ways to make it happen. Doesn’t have to be finished. We always look for innovative, self starters that are eager to make things happen. The beauty of today’s business world is that location of where you are when working isn’t important! So, wherever you are, if you have ideas and some concepts – we would like to hear from you. We are rapidly growing and will need more and more smart, hard working and intelligent team members.
Any plans for Europe?
Erik:We are looking at establishing our European Base of Operations, and amongst other locations we are evaluating, our Executive Distribution Manager for Europe, Francis Ortiz, has highlighted the Canary Islands, for their climate, Special Tax Zone and geostrategic location. We specifically have our eyes in Tenerife, with their new Teide HPC Supercomputer and the all-year round Touristic activity, that makes that island the perfect location for running Pilot Programmes and developing new products such as Smart Islands, Smart Destinations and Sustainability solutions. I am traveling there shortly and will meet with numerous stake holders while touring the island and infrastructures there. Francis has done a great job in presenting all the benefits of establishing our first European office there. We are also looking at doing some of our first deployment of our platform there. As part of our deployment there we will also be looking for local talent. We are initiating conversations with the University of La Laguna and other Education Centers to establish a training camp for Spark Compass Systems Europe, and may need to quick ramp up, exciting days ahead 🙂
In your opinion what’s the future of Social, Mobile and Location Technologies; Where are we headed?
Erik: With some self regulation and by keeping the end user’s interest first and foremost, I think these new levels of contextual awareness can become a very powerful and exciting field. The big concern is privacy and those that violate the rules and regulations in place. Its up to us in this industry to set standards, deliver what the end user wants while providing value to our clients while working with governments and policy makers to ensure compliance. With care and intelligent use of these powerful tools and platforms we have built and continue to make more powerful, it is my belief that we can create disruptive and beneficial shifts unlike ever before in the way we use our mobile devices.
Thank you for your insights. Here’s wishing your team all success! I am sure Location Based Marketing is the future and Spark Compass surely is going to go “places”.
Erik: Thank you for your time. Exciting times for all of us – here’s to your continued success too!