Technology is changing every day, intending to make life simpler and better. Almost every small or big business today leverage the power of technology to some extent. Call it a bane or a blessing, technology has surely created a revolution painting a wonderful picture of the future. With a similar picture in mind a master of paintings, Erik Bjontegard embarked upon an incredible journey to become the pioneer of a new technology using it to paint a new future. Building and connecting technologies under one single platform is a challenging task. The vision of a data driven core platform was the outline that created Spark Compass. Building this based on his vison, the platform excelled into a leading data-driven communication companies, now endorsed by the largest tech giants in the world. Erik Bjontegard, the Inventor, Founder and President of Total Communicators Inc.’s Spark Compass platform for platforms has an enthralling tale of success. He has become a source of inspiration for entrepreneurs and those who aspires to succeed. Redefining technology, here is the journey of Spark Compass with a few inspiring insights from the leader himself, Erik Bjontegard.
The First Step Towards Success
When Erik launched the company in 2012, it was very important to him to stay true to his vision and maintaining the grand vision of building a true platform for platforms. Creating something from scratch, something that nobody else has done before, is always a challenge. Building, integrating and connecting various technologies under one platform was hard to do. It proved even harder to explain the “why” and “how” – and the benefits such an all-encompassing platform could deliver. This had not been done before. When Erik tried to explain the concept, he was often looked upon as a dreamer and was often told that his invention was not possible to build, and even if he could, it wouldn’t provide any value. Erik was also told that the technology would not be patentable. However, despite all the negativity and naysayers Erik got patents and have built just such a platform – the Spark Compass Platform for Platforms. And, today he and his team have deployed the technology across multiple vertical markets, it works and delivers results. Recently the head of IT for a global sport empire managing some of the world’s premier sports venue proclaimed “You have the answer to 5G!”. This was of great personal value to Erik as he was part of the R&D at Qualcomm who first invented 5G. He was also recently recognized by global system integrator giant CGI as one of the Top 12 technology digital leaders globally out of interviews with over 1,500 executives.
However, challenges continue to prevail when you are a leader and you are building something that is new and has not been done before. It is very hard to explain this “new thing” because you cannot compare it to anything else. But as Erik states, the challenges are surpassed by the excitement and the satisfaction, the thrill of building something that has not been done before, creating something brand new, and overcoming all the challenges and obstacles that are placed in front of you. Hence, Erik sees the challenges as worth it because it contributes in making Spark Compass a better solution and continue to improve it as it learns what works and what doesn’t – the essence of an intelligent system.
The Services of Spark Compass
Spark Compass is a platform for platforms. They deliver a solution that takes real world data and creates actions and delivers outcomes in real time based on this data. This patented approach of capturing sensor data, IoT data from equipment, data from phones, data from cities and organizations, then gathering all this data in a common platform where the platform creates an understanding of user’s context. When combined with historical data, and knowledge of the location and the activity of the user, it delivers curated content, instructions and information to the user. In essence delivering on the promise of content delivery for the right person at the right time and place – one the right device. The system then stores the data on both past knowledge with the new knowledge of what works and what does not. This process enables better communication – a total communication solution – delivering Augmented Intelligence to its operators. This is what the Spark compass platform does. They bridge the gap between the physical and the digital creating outcomes based on data real time.
They call their platform contextually intelligent communication that delivers augmented intelligence to their clients enabling them to drive better results utilizing their platform which includes applied intelligence modules. Tested, proven and deployed, the platform has proven to drive results in markets as varied as retail shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, across entire island nations, across airports, stadiums, university campuses, entire city centers delivering improved operations, increase in sales and increase in attendance – and deeper loyalty and relationships between enterprises and their end customers. There is virtually no place that this platform has not been proven to drive desired results. They even did an healthy behavior encouragement platform at the Health and Human services department’s years ago when they won an award at the White House. Now they have a deployment of their Alexa senior care intelligence solution in the UK where they improve care for senior citizens in North Somerset. Activating and interacting with Rebel Rewards fans at University of Mississippi, the Ole Miss fans are engaged with sponsor Coca Cola and the app interactions with the stadium light and music systems with a “digital lighter” where the app drives the phone’s flashlight in sync with the stadium lights and sound systems. Delivering fan and star interactions, joy and excitement for Selena Gomez ‘s fans in Hollywood to engaging with millions of America’s Cup fans across Bermuda and the globe, activating AR engagements for fans at Wimbledon …. the platform solution and its methodology drives and delivers measurable results. Enhanced fan experiences with valuable performance data and improve communications for the venue and sports teams.
The Graph of Growth of a Successful Company
Spark Compass has grown organically and slowly by design and on purpose focusing on showcasing a variety of deployments in assorted vertical markets rather than going deep in any specific vertical. This has been a strategy that has met with a lot of resistance and questions particularly from those that are driven by initial money returns. “Focus on one vertical, go deep in it” was the advice. Instead, they have proven that this technology is agnostic and works across any vertical. This is what their patent described this is what Erik’s invention truly is – a platform for platform that is data driven.
Now, they have proven the versatility of the platform and that it is inclusive, i.e. can integrate with both legacy systems as well as incorporate new technologies as they become available, it is proven as future-proof, adaptive and provides value in any vertical.
The growth strategy for the Spark Compass platform is to partner with strategic partners around the globe. They believe in having local presentation, local knowledge, and local expertise in order to adapt to the local deployments. They already have entities and partnerships in Scandinavia, UK, across Europe and EU, and now recently across South East Asia, Hong Kong, Thailand as well as Dubai and Latin America. Spark Compass has signed channel partner agreements and collaborates with large system integrators such as DXC Technology, Atos and CGI, as well as Alibaba Cloud, and have agreements in place with other large organizations from Qualcomm to Samsung, Sigfox to Libelium. Their strategy is called BOTT which means “Build, Operate, Train and Transfer”. They also partner up with universities and R&D facilities enabling them to utilize the solution to build upon, invent and create new solutions using Spark Compass tools. Erik is a Honorary Fellow at University of Salford where he also assist the Advisory Board of Directors in building out education solutions to prepare the future leaders, developers and engineers in Industry4.0 deployments, AI – and of course data driven communication platforms like Spark Compass.
Now the focus is to align with the partners in specific geographical and vertical markets, using their subject matter knowledge and local expertise, which combined with the ubiquitous platform for platforms delivers clear competitive advantage in each vertical and geographical area.
As Erik is known to say -”These are exciting times” for Spark Compass!
The Outstanding Walk of a Successful Leader
Before the founding of Spark Compass Erik was an executive at Qualcomm in the corporate R&D division, a great company where they spent over 4.5 billion dollars a year in R&D at the time. Erik was lucky enough to be part of the teams that brought a lot of new technologies to market. Augmented reality, proximity beacons, peer to peer communication, C2VX, and what is now called “5G” are all technologies that he was involved in from ideation to prototyping, and helped taking many to market while there.
Before Qualcomm Erik had been a real estate broker where he helped land developers create master plans whether it was in Southern California or the beautiful coastline of southern Turkey. Prior to that Erik had worked as a fashion designer and created one of the Top selling jeweler lines on QVC TV shopping which included their chain of retail stores and fashion brands that were exposed on TV
This is a tumulus career Erik created after having finished being a rocket scientist working on the space shuttle with NASA, certifying commercial aircrafts for flight worthiness for FAA and testing deep space vehicles and esoteric materials. The common thread is that Erik likes to create and innovate, build and develop ideas and plans for things and solutions where none has been before.
It certainly has been a fun ride for Erik who has never done anything that’s easy and or has been done before. This is what Erik continues to do – innovate, explore, test, fail, fix, do it again and learn from the process to do it better next go-around.
As a young kid growing up in Norway Erik always had a vision of coming to the great country of United States of America. “As a young teenager, I wore Levi jeans jacket with American flag on the back with great pride. I loved airplanes and was master of drawing my favorites, the F4 and later the F14 Tomcat. When Top Gun came out, I was at the premiere and mesmerized by San Diego, the fighter jets – and the girls in San Diego” Erik recalls with a smile.
He went to University of Salford in England to become a mechanical engineer but started in the oil business in North sea off the coast of Norway. He built a robotic arm for a two-man submarine but got stuck in the bottom of the North Sea inside it, and after digging is way out with his robotic arm, decided to look out into deep space instead of getting stuck in the deep sea again. Hence, he left the North Sea and landed in San Diego and started working at a big aerospace company working with NASA and others. He worked on the space shuttle as well as on his favorite airplane the F 14!
Both at Norwegian Underwater Technology Center and at the NASA supplier, Erik was working on creating real-world simulations using hydraulics and structures to simulate outer space, flight conditions on passenger planes as well as the hostile environment at the bottom of the North Sea. Combining innovation and building structures and systems that simulates and mimics these harsh environments, these foreign environments into a new solution is part of what he continues to do. Going from the depth of the North Sea to outer space and now into the digital realm where their solution and Erik’s invention is bridging the gap between the physical and the digital is a natural extension of what he did when he was a young engineer.
This is all part of the foundation of what has become Spark Compass, the patented contextually intelligent communication platform that they have built and deployed and is now endorsed by the largest tech companies in the world.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Founder
As the Founder and President of Spark Compass Erik’s foremost responsibility is to always think different and create new connections and solutions that might not have been discovered or done before. He finds this enormously exciting and exhilarating, but at times – exhausting. Building a company around this invention and technology was the other challenge. Having amassed a group of dedicated, super intelligent, smart, honest and good people, he feels it is a blessing that he and Spark Compass boasts about and are honored by.
“Knowing that my team members have put their livelihood on the line is a true honor that comes with a deep responsibility. Knowing that my investors have put their hard-earned money to support me and my team to build this solution is another big responsibility. I do not take neither lightly and I am now more focused than ever to bring this solution to its full capacity with partners and deployments on a global scale delivering better outcomes based on real world data across the globe in any vertical. It’s an enormous vision and an enormous goal but, my goodness, what are thrilling ride!” Erik shares.
The Vision of a Dedicated Team
The vision for the company is to innovate, create new ways and always ask “why”, “why not” and “what’s in it for me” from an end user’s perspective and to use data to create better outcomes, using real world data, in real time. Spark Compass will apply new technology as it becomes available and combine technologies into their platform for platforms, never stopping, never ending, but always including new technologies solutions and partners to create better outcomes wherever we go.
This approach of being inclusive and leveraging what exists, complementing and integrating it with new technologies rather than throwing out and replacement, differentiate them from many competitors. They always look at what’s the best way to do things, how can they improve what’s there and how can they improve outcomes. They work with partners and deliver results ensuring that they provide better outcomes. One of their newest additions is a fast and advanced data storage system based on their blockchain technology.
Capitalization – securing the right “smart” capital – continue to be a challenge. When building something that hasn’t been done before as discussed earlier, it is also challenging to get investors and accountants to truly understand the value of what they build and what they have created. As with any market leader and visionary, being first is often a challenge. The old banking joke, “Your solution is innovative and will be huge, but since no-one has done it before, we can’t fund you” is true all too often. Finding partners to go big with is also critical to ensure the ability to scale once the markets mature. Spark Compass is a small, nimble and fast-moving company and their attitude is when somebody say jump, they ask how high and far, and get jumping straight away. This nimbleness enables the company to work closely with larger, much larger, partners and clients. They are not able to move as fast due to the momentum of their size.
“It has been said that patience is a virtue. My mom reminds me that I used up all of hers while I grew up. I think that explains why she didn’t give me much. I like to Get Stuff Done, GSD, and waiting on the 3 Tees – Things Takes Time – is a frustration and one of the biggest roadblocks I have. Now I’m impatiently waiting for the solution on how to overcome this” Erik adds with a smile.
The Future of Spark Compass
Spark Compass is already a global company and a global platform for platforms. Their channel partners, JV partners, their clients, their research organizations and their team members are spread across the globe. They were global from the first day they started. The company’s head architects are in New Zealand, early development team is in Mexico, they have a sales team in England, a company in Norway and now partners and clients in Thailand, Hong Kong and Dubai. Plus, Spark Compass has reached into the rest of Europe and North Africa and deeper South America. They continue to grow the Spark Compass platform following their BOTT model. They were built to deploy, operate, test, transfer and team up with local entities and to deliver hyper relevant, hyper location based personalized information system that brings intelligence to every smart device wherever that device might be. One of their newest additions is a fast and advanced data storage system based on their blockchain technology.
Having integrated an IoT platform with one of the worlds most advanced blockchain platform continues to show that they are leapfrogging others that might be looking at advanced analytics on the data. Spark Compass creates outcomes and actions on the data, real time and then they store the data in advanced secure manners. Currently live and operational, Spark Compass now stores event data and fan interactions, real time as it happens across multiple sports complexes on their integrated blockchain. Real world data, real world event information, real time, on a secure blockchain – another world’s first for Spark Compass.
Spark Compass is a hybrid and dedicated team that operates under the expert guidance of Erik Bjontegard who has not only successfully managed to achieve his dreams and turned his visions into reality, but has proven to be an incredible leader to enables other to grow too.