The Future of BizTech Podcast

Epi 13: Using Situational Awareness AI to Maximize Revenue with Karyn Scott, CMO of Kloudspot

JC: Well, welcome everybody to another episode of The Future of BizTech, I am your host JC Granger. I am here with Karyn Scott, the CMO of Kloudspot. Karyn, thank you so much for coming on the show. Why don’t you tell all the audience here a little bit about yourself and what Kloudspot does.

Karyn: Sure. And thank you so much for thinking of me and thinking of Kloudspot for this episode, we’re very excited to be here. So yeah, Karyn Scott, I am now with Kloudspot and my journey has been 20-ish plus years. I won’t define the ish. And technology, I’ve been in technology marketing for all of my career, mostly because A, I’m a tech junkie, but B, I’ve always been inspired and attracted to companies that are doing really cool things with technology to change the way people live, work, learn, and or play. And to the second part of your question, why Kloudspot and what we’re doing? I’ll get to what we’re doing in a minute but what attracted me here is, it’s an immense opportunity right now to have a technology that’s really able to help people through the challenging times that we’re in at the moment.

Karyn: So what is Kloudspot? Kloudspot is a situational awareness and intelligence platform. All right, so what does that actually mean in English? So what we are is a SaaS offering that rides on the edge of a network, any network. We’re network agnostic, we’re cloud agnostic. I joke sometimes that we’re Switzerland from a technology standpoint, anything in and anything out. But what we do is we are able to ingest data from any source, whether it’s connected cameras, connected thermal scanners, wifi, BLE, you name it. Data that’s being slung out there and we all live casting off a sea of data all the time, ingested into our platform, where you can put privacy policies into place. You can create specific applications and then trigger out to all sorts of enterprise applications.

Karyn: For example, what’s really timely right now is a lot of people are using Kloudspot to be able to detect PPE compliance and detect footfall analysis and detect thermal scanning and temperatures. So that information can come in and be projected for example, on digital displays, so that people know how to maintain health and safety.

JC: That’s really cool. Did you start with the company from the ground up or did you come in after? I think I might have missed them.

Karyn: Yeah, no. And I didn’t give you that history, I apologize for that. So Kloudspot was founded in 2016 by two ex-Cisco folks. I’m actually ex-Cisco as well, but I didn’t know these guys during that time there. Who were largely responsible for building the wifi infrastructure that the world runs on today that you and I use today. And those engineers left Cisco founded Kloudspot, mostly for situational awareness and location-based services. So understanding what’s happening within a perimeter space and what’s going on between the devices and the people moving around in the space. But what’s happened in the journey over the past four years, is that sort of been interesting, not necessarily a driver, what’s become a driver, is the intelligence you can extract from all those signals and be able to drive engagements and interactions with the people casting off that data.

Karyn: And I joined in July of this past year, shortly after Guillermo Diaz, who is now our CEO. He was also at Cisco, he was the CIO at Cisco. I knew him and he started, I think in February or March. And he pinged me to sort of help him out with some marketing guidance and how to position the business and messaging. And back to my original reason for being in technology, I was so captivated by what this technology can do that I just couldn’t say, yes fast enough and decided to jump in and join the fun.

JC: So what kind of companies do you find benefit the most from what you guys do? And do you have like government contracts also? This seems like a really high end, network-style solution. What companies are benefiting from what you guys do the most?

Karyn: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. And the answer is, anyone and any organization that can define a perimeter and has a need to understand what’s happening within that perimeter, will benefit. And I know that’s a very loosey, goosey answer, but it’s actually the reality. So we see applications from education, so understanding the student engagement and the student as a consumer of education and understanding how to tailor, customize education experiences. Especially now with a lot of the remote learning going on, one example. Another one that we talked about earlier is, offices reopening. That’s what the entire world is focusing on. Now how can we ensure that when people do come back to work, they want to come back to work? They feel it’s safe to be back in the office. So monitoring all those metrics that are useful in making that happen.

Karyn: Construction sites, there are OSHA compliances, there are delivery compliances. There’s a whole host of things, that set of organizations that are in the construction business can do with the data that they are collecting. To your point about governments, one of the big applications that we’re seeing is around smart cities. I read an IDC study that said $189 billion TAM in cities trying to become more intelligent. What does that mean? Energy sensors for light in parks to have smart systems there, waste management, police and fire, and making sure people are being dispatched to true emergencies versus maybe not. Public information, cross-selling discounts for people to drive foot traffic, when foot traffic opens again to different stores and malls, that sort of thing.

Karyn: We were not born obviously to help out with COVID because thankfully COVID wasn’t around then. The real early use cases were things around stadiums, experiences in malls, retail, because those really were the early adopters of trying to figure out how to make sense of the data the people in the space we’re casting off and come back with targeted engagements.

JC: Yeah. Something you said there that I’ve noticed a lot is, there’s so many different things out there that can collect data. Collecting data effectively is the easy part.

Karyn: Right.

JC: What I like about what you said is that your system helps with making sense of it.

Karyn: Correct.

JC: And I think that’s where a lot of softwares fail. They say, “Well, here’s all the analytics.” It’s like, “Okay, what does that mean?” And also something you said made me believe that your system kind of works in a way where it tells the difference between what should be happening versus what is happening. When you’re talking about school behavior or construction sites and OSHA, OSHA has a very set amount of rules. These things should be happening over here, but it sounds like your software can detect the difference between like, “Yeah, this is what should be happening, but here’s, what’s actually happening. And here’s how it can intelligently drive those or those make sense of that.” So that a human can go, “Okay, well we need to change this, this.” Am I getting that right?

Karyn: You are and it’s one step further because it’s an AI-driven intelligence platform. So it gets smarter through machine learning over time and can start to predict. And that’s the really exciting part. It becomes a predictive analytics tool. It will start to predict intent, predict behavior, predict likely actions and outcomes.

JC: So I can actually tell you that … I always think about that funny board on the wall at a construction site, it says, “One hundred and twenty-six days since an incident.” Or whatever, like an injury or something, but I feel like your software will not only say, “Well, here’s how long it’s been since one.” But it would predict and say, “Listen, with the way things are going. You’re a week or two out tops from having an incident.” Are you talking about those kinds of lines?

Karyn: Those kinds of lines. And again, it’s a flexible open platform that you can write to it, to do whatever you want. So it could even go one step further than that and say, “Here are the actions we’ve already taken in routing your data a certain way.” So you extend that time or you avert that process.

JC: Sure. But it sounds like it is a predictive model in a way, unless I’m reading this wrong. So what about applications like weather? Could this be plugged into the national weather system and it can … Because obviously they already have something. I mean, they have predictive models already, but I guess my point is, does your software also run similar where it can say, “Well, here’s everything from the past and here’s what’s happening currently. So we think it’s going to do this.” I’m trying to do an analogy. Is your system something that would act somewhat like a predictive weather software or something like that?

Karyn: It certainly could and the beauty in the platform, as I mentioned earlier, the agnostic piece of it, we don’t sell direct to end-users. We sell through third-party systems, integrators, partners, and distributors because those are the folks that are hired to create those specific applications. So absolutely you could have a use case where a company has hired a particular integrator to develop that type of an application, to do those sort of predictive analytics. The power is in the platform. It’s completely up to the person who’s programming it, to get the most out of it.

JC: So that sounds pretty cool for you then as a CMO because you’re a marketing person like I am.

Karyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JC: It’s not going to be the same thing every day. There’s pros and cons of an agnostic system, right?

Karyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JC: On one hand you get that predictive nature, free marketing. But for you, it sounds like you get to kind of spread it out a little bit and see which industries you want to go after. But like you said, you have third-party distributors that do this. Talk to us, we get a lot of CEOs in here, but we don’t get many CMOs. And so tell us from your point of view, what is it like marketing for a company like this? I mean, when you have a system that can be used for almost anything, how do you narrow down your focus to who you’re really trying to advertise this to? What does a day in your job look like when it comes to marketing a system like this?

Karyn: This platform, yeah. It’s an excellent question. And we pivoted the focus of the organization and the marketing of the organization pretty heavily to help organizations that are trying to reopen and focus a lot on health and safety because we are living in this time of COVID. And we are living in this era where, whether you’re a city, whether you’re a business, whether you’re a hospital, whether you’re a school, table stakes are now health and safety, right alongside with privacy. So a lot of our focus has been on promoting the value and the use cases the platform has in things like PPE detection, in things like social distancing, in things like capacity and footfall, counting. In things like hand sanitization, monitoring all of the things that are very top of mind for many businesses today.

Karyn: I mean, the fact of the matter is there isn’t a business you can think of probably that isn’t thinking of, how do I create an environment where people feel safe coming back to dinner, safe coming back to send their children to school safe, coming back to the shopping mall? So that’s really where our focus and my focus, in particular, has been along those use cases in the last five, six months since I’ve been here.

JC: So does your system or your platform, does it sit over here to the right and then people plug into it or does your platform sit on top of their servers in their cloud and whatnot? Which direction does it go or does it just sync up in a real-time data way? How does it actually get integrated?

Karyn: Right. That’s a great question. It rides on the edge of the network, which is great from a privacy standpoint because the data itself … We don’t store any of the data. So that’s fantastic from a privacy standpoint. And that’s the first question we have, certainly when we’re talking with CIOs and tech people in these discussions. So it rides on the edge of the network and it ingests data from any sensor into the system. And then through common APIs, it integrates out into any software that you might be using. So for example, and we just announced this about a couple of months ago. We have an integration with Microsoft Teams, where all of the data that is coming through the system can be pushed live through Microsoft Teams to employees globally in real time, to digital displays in the office.

Karyn: So for example, if you’re monitoring, I don’t know, outages of a network that you’re managing for another customer, all of that stuff can easily within that Microsoft Teams environment be integrated without having to jump out and go elsewhere, number one. Number two is, the thing our customers really love about the Kloudspot platform, is it aggregates all of the data from all of the data sources that you may have into a single dashboard. That’s pretty significant and we hear that from our customers all the time. That having a single source of truth, a single pane of glass, where all of their data sources sit and all of the aggregation of the data visualization models exist, really makes their life less complicated.

Karyn: And imagine a situation where you’re having to monitor siloed and disparate systems, and then trying to stitch together what this analysis is telling you, what that analysis is telling you, it comes all into one common platform. And I wanted to respond to a comment you had earlier about it being sort of high end, not necessarily true. We just announced a bundle last month called the QuickStart Bundle and there are details on Kloudspot, if anybody is interested. Where we’ve actually stitched together almost a starter kit, that within a day, a company can be up and running and open their doors. Again, where it includes some hardware, we’re not a hardware company, but we’ve bundled together some hardware. Digital displays, access points, the Kloudspot platform. So everything is all in one, at a very low cost of entry. Our dealers of course sell that, so I can’t quote a particular price but a really affordable cost of entry because we wanted to make sure … It’s not just the enterprise play here, this is for small business, for medium business, who really can make the use of what they have already.

Karyn: And that’s another from a marketing standpoint, since you asked about that, part of the value is to monetize what you’ve already owned. You’ve already spent a ton of money in your infrastructure, in your racks and your servers and your access points in all of that. You spent a ton of money on your business applications, whether it’s Slack, DocuSign, Salesforce, Tableau, whatever it is you’re using in your business. We integrate all of that together and aggregate it together in a single pane of glass, which a lot of our customers really understand the value of. So it helps fuel your investment.

JC: And what kind of marketing do you do? Do you guys invest in a lot of content marketing? Are you guys doing, how are you getting in front of the distributors to convince them to buy it from you to attach it to these companies and platforms?

Karyn: Yeah, and we’re really early in that journey, to be honest. All right, we really just started gearing up since Guillermo came on as CEO back in, I think it was February. So we’re nascent in our journey. My focus the last six months has really been two-fold. One, building that foundation. Getting the market infrastructure into place so that we can then fuel forward. From a marketing standpoint, I don’t believe in turning on the water until your plugs and your pipes have been connected to the city water supply. It doesn’t actually make any sense. So that’s a lot of what I’ve been focused on. Building that infrastructure out so that we can take on that demand engine piece of it. And watch this space in a couple of weeks, we’re about to relaunch our website and our partner portal, so that that one-stop-shop for our partners to get content and training and information that’s important to them, as well as a whole guided experience for people in all the different verticals that you and I talked about a little bit.

JC: I want to switch back a little bit to the COVID side of things here. Right now, as we’re recording this, vaccines are coming out, which is great. On the other side, we’re at this peak, spike, the irony of the polarization of where we’re at right now is huge because, we’re losing more people per day and more infections and deaths and stuff per day than ever. And it’s just exponential, but yet we have this horizon coming with the vaccines. How is your company going to, or what is it already doing right now? How is it integrating into that to make that transition? You talked a little bit earlier about that, but is there anything coming soon that we haven’t seen that people can go, “Hey, Kloudspot is going to be doing X, Y, Z, and that’s going to help with this transition back to whatever this new normal will look like.”

Karyn: Yeah. The next normal we’ll have to see, hopefully, this will be a dark chapter in the medical school textbooks, just like polio and some of those others someday. And we’ll look back on it. I’m constantly telling my kids, this may be the worst thing that happens in your lifetime. So we’ll see. But to answer that question. Again, it’s really back to the individual use cases because we are the canvas that can then be created into whatever you want. But a lot of the use cases, we’re beginning to see that are important given what you just outlined. Making vaccination sites and hospitals safe.

Karyn: So for example, we have one company, I can’t talk about it yet because they haven’t deployed fully, but it’s a hospital system that’s using Kloudspot to use connected hand sanitizers, which I didn’t actually know existed, but they do. As well as PPE scanning and thermal scanning for temperature, contactless. So that there’s a way to make sure that when you’re scheduled to come in and have your COVID shot, you can feel confident that the person doing it is safe. That they have done their hand sanitization, that they are in fact, in mass compliance. That the room has been sanitized to a certain standard. So you have a lot of comfort in going in and having that done.

Karyn: Part of what we hear all the time on the news is, half the population is afraid to go do this. Hopefully with some of these applications that are being enabled by the Kloudspot platform, can give people comfort in the fact that the experience at least will be safe and not pose any kind of a risk. So that was one very exciting use case that’s coming down the pike soon. It hearkens back to your earlier question, for us, it’s all about the use cases and what exciting things the customers are doing. So as those things begin to come online from a marketing standpoint, it’s my responsibility really to share those use cases, to share those customer stories, so that other people can see what’s possible through technology.

JC: That’s really cool. As the title of the podcast, The Future of BizTech.

Karyn: Yeah.

JC: Two-part question. First is, where do you see the future of your company? Because right now, obviously you guys have the system developed and the use cases are the ones that are developing themselves at this point. And I’m sure some of them surprise you every now and then. Like, “Oh wow. I didn’t think that it could be used for that. That’s really cool.” So I think that, that’s a cool part about your system, but the first part of the question is, where do you think your company is going in the future, as far as that future of the BizTech. And then secondly is, where do you think the industry you exist in is going as a whole? So from the broader sense of the cloud analytics, predictive modeling and whatnot, where do you see the future of both of those going?

Karyn: Yeah, those are great questions. I mean, from a Kloudspot standpoint, there’s sort of the near term and the longer term. Near term, as we mentioned, it’s all about how do we do our part and how do our peers in the technology industry do our collective parts in enabling the transition to whatever this new normal, next normal way of life is going to be? Be that health and safety or whatever else. So we’re very excited to participate in that journey. In fact, we just made another announcement a couple of weeks ago that we’re part of the telecom infrastructure project that Facebook is spearheading along with 8 or 10 other companies to federate the access to wifi. Because at the end of the day, at least in my view and I’ve blogged about this. Equality will never exist in the world until access to free wifi and reliable wifi is there for everybody and anybody to enjoy. So Facebook is spearheading this initiative and we’re doing our part from the wifi standpoint to be part of it.

Karyn: So that’s one area where I think our company is going to continue to evolve in bringing products and services to the market. When I say the market, I mean the development community who’s creating for the end user, that can really help them make intelligence of any space that they’re in. And part of what you’ll see coming out of Kloudspot going forward in the next year, 2021, are these campaigns around intelligent spaces, intelligent office, which we talked a little bit about. Intelligent school, intelligent construction site, intelligent city parks. All of these kinds of things, because everybody is slinging immense amounts of data. Everyone has three … My mother has three different devices. She has her laptop, she’s got her cell phone, she’s got a smartwatch. Everybody has a lot of connectivity going on and everyone’s dropping digital breadcrumbs.

Karyn: And to the point you made earlier, our job at Kloudspot is to help companies swim through that swirling sea of data that’s out there and be able to automatically extract the nuggets that are meaningful to their particular business. So they in turn can drive meaningful engagements with the people in their perimeter, whatever that may be. Again, be that a mall, a school, a stadium, what have you. We envision the day when we can go back to sport’s arenas and all that kind of stuff. So that’s sort of the Kloudspot piece of it. And I’m personally intrigued with how the virtual and physical worlds are really starting to blur in a positive way.

Karyn: One example, back to the workspace we were talking about earlier. I don’t believe you’re ever going to have offices with cubes on top of cubes ever again, that’s probably never going to happen. So how do you create a situation where this virtual world exists within the physical world and make it seamless? So that’s, that. The second part of your question, around this whole AI-driven intelligence space, where that’s going? There’s not a day that goes by where there isn’t some super fascinating announcement from some super unique company. To your point, that we may not have heard of. Really doing something to better the world through AI, robotics, machine learning, all of this.

Karyn: For example, one company that I sit on the board of called FarmWise, has come up with an AI-driven robotics technology to listen to plants. So they can determine at a plant level what pesticides or controls are needed versus wasting the time, energy, money, and potential problems in the pesticides in the environment, spraying an entire crop. That to me is just mind-blowing to think about. That there’s a way to-

JC: More segmented.

Karyn: More segmented, but you see that every day and you see companies getting funded and getting support and really talented people from the technology space gravitating towards these arenas. Because I think that’s really a lot of what the future is going to bring. It’s going to be more personalized experiences. It’s going to be solving the real problems in this world, like food, like climate change, like safe water, like access to free wifi and all of these things. And I think the technology and in particular, the artificial intelligence-driven piece of it and the ability to predict engagements, I think is going to be a net positive in any space.

JC: Oh, that’s wonderful.

Karyn: Yeah, it’s very exciting.

JC: Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you think would be of benefit to the audience to hear whether it be about the industry or your company or yourself?

Karyn: I don’t think so. I think we covered a lot of territories there. I’m not sure anybody’s interested in me personally, but if you are, you can look at my LinkedIn. I am excited by the Kloudspot opportunity and in particular, in bringing part of my passion around philanthropy and giving back and shaping next gen to the forefront. One of the key values that we have here at Kloudspot is, not only is it our responsibility to help a rising tide lift all boats from a technology standpoint, but from making sure underserved populations not only have access to technology, but have access to experiences. So one of the things that we’re doing is, we’re really focused on a partnership with schools for underserved children to bring them in early in the high school journey for professional examples and that sort of thing. My former employer Salesforce, was the king or queen as you will, at that. And they put a very high bar and we’re all trying to reach that.

JC: No, I agree. Okay. So how can people reach you if they’re interested in Kloudspot, they want to learn more or partnerships, things like that? What would be some good ways to get a hold of you?

Karyn: Sure. You can either go to Kloudspot.com or you can feel free to ping me, [email protected] Karyn with a K and with a Y. And we are very open to any organization interested in learning more, any third-party integrator with customers looking to use AI and machine learning and situational awareness to solve problems. And anybody who just would like to chat about these kinds of topics. I love having a great brainstorm with folks, much like this. So I’m really grateful for the opportunity.

JC: That’s awesome. Well listen, thank you so much for being on the show. I can’t wait to get this episode out there and we’ll make sure that we send you the links of course, as well. So you guys can share it, but thanks again for being on the show. I appreciate it so much, Karyn.

Karyn: Honored to have the opportunity. Yeah, be safe and have a happy holiday.

JC: You too.

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