Stephanie Atkinson talks Technology for Good and the Project

In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast and in conjunction with IoT Solutions World Congress, we're talking to Stephanie Atkinson – Founder and CEO at Compass Intelligence about “Technology with a Heart and using Technology to Help Students at  Get the answers to your on how to help and how to participate along with Stephanie's unique insights and Purpose on this Industrial Talk interview!

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Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's get a thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast. This is the place that we celebrate industry heroes don't women and men of industry, the women and men of manufacturing, and all things in between. You are bold, you're brave, you dare greatly you innovate like nobody's business, and you're changing the world and you're changing people's lives. That's why we do that. That's why we celebrate you. Alright, on the industrial takasi we have a young lady by the name of Stephanie Atkinson. Now she could walk to her dog and stack karshi I mean, it's it's amazing. She is the doc gun founder and CEO of a company called compass intelligence. also the founder of a company called v mark. also involved with an organization called elevate our kids is she says part time but doesn't do anything part time. Let's get cracking. Yeah. She is going to be featured on a panel, along with Rob Tiffany and Bill Shu marzo, you might have heard them, they're rock stars as well out there and industry. And we're going to be talking a little bit about industry for Dotto, however, however, you're saying to yourself, Scott, I got it, I understand the industry for Dotto, right? No, not from this angle. What we're really trying to do is, what is the heart? What is the benefit to communities in need? countries in need? countries that don't really have the financial resources to do what you know, we take for granted here? And where's it going to change? Are they going to miss the boat? Are they going to be pulled right along with this incredible wave of this digital transformation journey? Before we get into that conversation I need for you, listener 101, whatever I need for you to, and it's going to be out there, put on your calendar, digital summit 2020. Now that is December 2, through the third, they're going to be featuring speakers and topics, specifically around artificial intelligence, that's going to be the second. And on the third, digital twin day. You can't beat that. Those are, those are heavy duty, major topics. But we have a panel, the industrial talk has a panel and we're going to be talking about the heart we're going to be doing the the human side of this digital transformation. Because we should we should see what how it it's positively impacting people and communities around the world and the opportunities. All right. Stephanie Atkinson God, it's a it's a mouthful. I'm sorry, Atkinson. I have to say it's slowly Stephanie. She's She's fiery. She has a lot of fun. She's got mad skills, and you go out to her. You go out to her LinkedIn stack. And that's a TK i n s o n Stephanie, first name. Reach out to her, you will know you won't be disappointed. And she's got a lot of irons in the fire. She's got a tremendous amount of passion for making people and communities and all everybody has success. And and she's an amazing, amazing professional. And boy, were we very fortunate here on the industrial talk. She not only said yes to the panel, but she said yes to the podcast. And And boy, are we really fortunate about that. I'm not going to take too much more your time. Because I'm tired of talking. I want to get into the interview. Here is Stephanie Atkinson, on the hot seat. Enjoy the interview. All right, Stephanie. Welcome to the industrial talk podcast. It's an honor, it is for me an honor that you have joined this platform that celebrates the women and men of industry. How are you?


I'm well, I'm well for Monday.


Yeah, it is that now you just you've dated my podcasts and now it can't go on forever. Because now you said Monday


could be November 2020 to be Monday of next week.


It could be number Monday, forever, whatever. So thank you very much. I know you're very busy. We talked a lot about that. For the listeners out there. Just a little little teeny bit, sort of a 411 on who you are.


Oh, well. It's crazy. Well, I'm leaning a couple of organizations right now. compass until it Is the tech market research and advisory firm focused on mobile IoT, emerging tech, and then v mark, focusing on marketing. And then the last thing, elevate our kids focusing on nonprofit bridging that bridging that digital divide for K through 12. Students.


All right, she's got a great stack card out there listeners. And when we start talking about, don't go down the road I just went down. That's Ma, rk don't do that. It's ma r qu So please, V. Mark that in your notes if you are taking notes. Now. 70, we've talked a lot, and I've been talking a lot. And I'm sure you talk a lot because you've went got the IoT coffee clutter? You've got a podcast. Right? You have a podcast that talks about IoT.


Yeah, every Wednesday, we have IoT coffee And we've had 2627 episodes


you need, you need to change it to coffee clutch.


It can be one talk, but you know, we do morning,


which would be a better talk. IoT wine talk. Oh, yeah. Anyway, so just like you and I, and you're in the industry. And we me, have had a number of conversations with leaders all around the world about IoT, you know, industry for Dido, that digital journey, that digital, whatever it is that edge, cloud, you name it. And for me, it's all great. It's going to be transformative. It works in business, it's all it's all good stuff. And if you're not in it, and if you're not considering it, if you're not looking at it, and educating yourself, listener, you better start doing it because that Genie has left the bottle. Now, let's talk about the heart of that. I'm always fascinated by Yeah, great tech, we in this country are very fortunate to be able to, you know, to have access to great people like you and and others. But what about let's talk a little bit about countries that don't have that type of a resource. Don't have and and just give me your feeling about how will it transform communities that, you know, maybe are not as fortunate as maybe we are? How will they be different as a result of IoT?


Yeah, you think about specific countries that just aren't, you know, they may not be an advanced advanced companies, they might not have the technology or the resources or the infrastructure. And, you know, so first and foremost, they got to have the infrastructure, right. So, in some cases, that's the reason why they're not moving forward. They're not transforming because they don't really have the infrastructure. So that's, that's the big thing. I think, even more important, though, Scott is really the gap between large enterprises and large companies versus small businesses, because for the longest time, very small businesses, if they were brand new, they they were quick and nimble, fast and flexible. But it's the ones that have been around a little bit longer that are like, Oh, my gosh, covid 19 pandemic, I now have to operate through virtual operations through really embrace my website, embrace virtual digital mobile more than ever. So I find that that's much more of a demographic or firmographic importance right now, because of the pandemic. And, wow, a lot of eyes opening now.


Yeah, and I think, and fortunately, or I see the benefits pre virus, we were sort of lazy, and we just, we just different. Maybe they're not bringing our a game not but the the virus from my perspective, Stephanie has sort of pinpoint that focus on on what is truly important. Now, if you're want to be have a business of resilience and prosper in the future, you better focus on these points, and you better have a business of resiliency. And that is from my perspective, technology. A point of clarification, when you say large enterprises versus small. Are you seeing that there's some challenges with small companies trying to go down this or is it more large companies having difficulty?


Yeah, I think I think the larger enterprises, larger businesses, even larger cities, they are so well targeted, that they, they, for the most part, understand who they need to go to when they need to do X, Y, and Z. Small businesses. There are so many vendors to choose from, it's quite overwhelming, and they don't really have the resources inside to just go and research and go, Okay, I need a mobile app for texting my customers now that I have a discount program going on right now. Right? It's something that I need to do. Well, who's the best SMS customer relationship management tool? They don't have those kinds of answers in front of them. So it's almost like we need an SMB landscape exchange to just let us search for all the tools that we need and start making decisions. They're not going to go to their telecom carrier. On that they're not going to go to some big tech company, they're going to want to know who's the app and who's the provider, and they have a hard time understanding where to go to go find that information that is researching online takes forever.


Yeah. And that is insightful and the ability to be able to even I get overwhelmed with, let's say, if I had a nickel every time says, I'm an IoT provider. I mean, I'd be rich. And there's, I can't I don't have the filtering capabilities saying, Yeah, that's just words. You're legit, your words. And I, I hear what you're saying. And what's the solution? What do you do? How do you recommend something going forward? You you've touched on a real pain point here.


Yeah, I think that, you know, we started that with V mark, we're starting to kind of put together a list of vendors, by application area for small and midsize businesses. And it's really more on the mobile marketing digital side, and reaching out to customers communicating with customers. But on the IoT side, why do we not have a small business IoT exchange that allows small businesses to go to to filter and find and search and even maybe even pitch their needs out to the community? To see who's going to help them do that? Because we all know this is an ecosystem play, right? We are all there are more than one vendor that might be providing that solution? How do you put all those pieces together, if you're super small, or even a company with 300 employees you don't, it's it's so challenging,


and try to try to survive and rebuild after being hammered by the two finger death punch of the COVID. And then try to prosper in the future knowing knowing full well that I have to in intuitively, I have to be able to have this innovation, this technology. But I don't have the time to sit there and try to ferret out how I want to approach it that that's true. And I love that idea. And I'm always about collaborating, innovating and educating. And you're touching upon all of that, you don't have the answers, and you need to collaborate, you just do get Yeah,


you know, company. Oh, and I it's interesting, too, because I also see it kind of a huge gap, we have the big IoT companies that a lot of those that are tech savvy know about. And then you have the specific industry that they might be in and you look at smaller companies within that industry, they all have a specific kind of top 20 List of brands that they work with for their software, application systems hardware. But there's that gap in between is worse, we need to bridge the industry solution providers with the IoT ecosystem, because a lot of times those those that are actually offering IoT solutions don't quite understand the industry that they're trying to target in the ecosystem of vendors that are already doing a whole host of things.


I got to wipe away the tears from my eyes. I hear what you're saying. And that's, that's been by, you know, one of the things I was broadcasting from a conference and I one year it was like, yeah, we've got version two. It's fantastic. It does this next year, it comes back. We're on version 10. And I've gone I haven't done version one, and you're already on version 10. What are you talking about? And why is that important to me? And then and then the conversation is like there's like, I don't even understand what you're saying. Give me a drink. stat. Yes. You know,


we IoT coffee, talk to IoT one talk?


Absolutely. Yep. There it is. Note to self. We've changed


that domain.


There it is. Okay. Well, that that is absolutely a problem. Now I want to start talking a little bit about the heart. And you're talking about elevate our I want to know a little bit about that for our listeners. What is that all about?


Yeah, so a group of us at i o t coffee talk we had been talking about right when COVID hit and all of the children were really forced to be at home. Parents forced to be at home. We we as Americans assumed our kids had laptops, tablets, devices to remote learn. We already knew about the digital divide when it comes to broadband and internet access. But we heard just horrible stories with kids that were actually online or working on their school programs through their cracked fall iPhones from their mom or their dad. And we're like this is something has to shift here. We've got to do something. So we got together created this nonprofit. There are already nice organizations out there like t mobile's Project 10 million that are focusing on the broadband internet piece providing hotspots and internet Access up to five years. So we're also working closely with them. But what we're doing is filtering through and finding and locating those schools that are underserved under resourced, and providing those Chromebooks, those laptops, those devices, and working with the broadband partners out there to really provide them a full package as opposed to, here's your Robin. Well, what do I do now? If I don't have a tablet? What do I don't have a laptop? So and it's, and it's strictly focused on K through 12?


Yeah, and I'm all into it. That's cool stuff. Don't get me wrong, that these these books, he's computer he has to happen. Don't get me. I like that. But I'm an irresponsible man. And if you give me a book, I guarantee I'm gonna bust it up. How do you control? How do you control that? I need it. But already irresponsible.


Yeah, good question. This is kind of centered kind of a tidal wave over to schools. So many, many schools have already been providing Chromebooks and tablets to their students. And so it has to kind of filter through the school in their IT department. If we got if we gave all of these directly to the families, and they didn't have a resource, a landing page, we already see the massive gap in terms of students and even teachers and moms, parents, dads, whatever, that are like, Oh, my gosh, how do I even get my speakers to come on. So there's still that gap. But we feel like at least we're moving the needle, we get the broadband, we get the devices, we make sure that the schools are helping with the distribution of that. And they are the point of, yeah, the one throat to choke. But if we took it a step further, we need someone out there to really manage all of these it questions and support help. We haven't found that piece yet. But we're hearing more about that that's in need as well. So if anyone's out there listening, and you've got a solution around that, there's all these K through 12. North Americans,


they all give me a call. Hey, guys, I'm telling you it is. And it's so funny to hear. Now, it's been a real positive for me, because pre virus, nobody knew how to get on zoom. postfire as everybody knows how to get on zoom, and I don't have to have that. No. Down at the bottom click, I don't have to have any of those conversations.


What I was saying because I'm, I'm a researcher at heart wide. I've been doing this for 15 plus years, I want that is the largest research case study we've ever had. We just threw everybody in the mix. Now. What do you do? Like everybody that was researching that market? We've got live data people, this is a real, this is a real survey.


It is. And some of its positive, some not so positive.


Some Oh, my gosh, I can't get over all the stories of all the mishaps of people not realizing that the camera was on and parents walking by I mean, just, it's comical.


It's comical. That's a nice way of putting it Most definitely. Yeah. But but it has to happen. And I think just I mean, we're social creatures, but I think business DNA has, has sort of changed. Now, we can do a lot by this right? We can, we can accomplish a lot of business virtually. And there's a lot of things that we thought we needed, we realized we don't need and and so I don't have a future hat on. But your efforts within the elevator kids is a must. And I like I said I don't know where it's going. But man, it has to


We're super excited about it. We can't talk about the who yet. But we got our first very large donation from an energy company. And we will soon be announcing a group of classrooms and students that we're going to be distributing resources to so we're really excited about that. Because we it's been less than 60 days since we've really started moving the needle. And this is a brand new nonprofit we just started so it's gonna be exciting.


And it's it's, it's that's cool. Now, the the question I have is how does it? I mean, you're gonna distribute it. You're going to go through the school, I would imagine going through the it as we look at that. Yeah. And can you give us sort of order of magnitude of maybe how many kids you will impact?


Right now we know 150 immediately. And so we kind of group everything in groups of classrooms at as you estimate 30 kids to a classroom. Yeah, they get a hotspot. They get unlimited internet for six months, and after that four and a half years, 100 gigabytes per month. So they get that hotspot, they get their Chromebook, the Chromebook license, it's white glove service. So when they get it at the school, everything's loaded. They open it up, it's ready to go this they don't have to do anything.


I love the friction. The last component to that. Like, if they go, Okay, then they open it up. Okay. And then they turn it on.




But you, you've done it, you've done.


Yeah, we can't train you on how to actually use the device. So that's,


that's, that's okay. Now with that, that technology, as we know has been driving, the costs have been going down and it's becoming more commoditized. It just is. The books that these, these Chromebooks, and so on, are becoming more commoditized. I mean, price wise, they're, they're within the realm of giant. Yeah, we can do it.


Yeah, yeah, we're partnering with Omni pro out of California. And they've just developed, and they have such great resources, we're able to really garner the price point that we need to make it affordable for us to keep fundraising and get these out as quickly as we can to students. So big shout out to them and T Mobile for supporting us.


Mobile? Well, that's when I posted Yeah, I'm going to give a shout out to those. I'm going to link them. Awesome. That is absolutely. And and you're just not going to stop from there. How does how does this soul? And I throw this question out to you. And once again, we've been down this digital journey, we've been having a grand old time, everything's just wonderful. And you know, the future's bright and, you know, beautiful, right? How does? How does How do you? How do we train our children? That? Or is it just by nature, that they're just going to know about this? And is that all a part of this too, as well, this whole digital connectivity?


Yeah, I mean, I know there are a ton of resources. I know like for Google Chrome, you know, they have tons of free videos. Everything's free. So there are some resources already out there. Yeah. It's the connecting it. I think the challenges for parents and for students and for teachers today is they're quickly adopting apps like zoom and Microsoft Teams, and other back office software applications for K through 12. Education. And it's training them on how to use those software, the software itself and the apps and how to manage things. And then this year, it's all about AV audio visual, and how do I connect things? How do I get my sound on? How do I get all of you know, my head set up? that those are things that no one thinks about? No one thought about? And so, yeah, that's the other piece. Gosh, if we could find some partners to help provide some of the AV equipment for the students, because you think about every family and every home, they may not have a quiet place, they may not have even an office, a room that they can go in. Some of them are all sharing. They've got parents working right next to kids learning. So it's very important that we not only think about the Chromebooks, but also another step is all of the other equipment and ancillary devices if they need to actually have a quiet learning environment.


Yeah, see, you don't want to lock and load on the Chromebooks and then all of a sudden, they don't, the whole picture is not completed. And it just sort of, once again, it's it's, it doesn't achieve what your vision needs to be. And so there's a lot of moving parts, and you're dealing with families, and you're dealing with communities. And there's so many variables that are involved.


Yeah, and I think that's one of the beauty of a part about elevate our kids is once we do the handoff, we bow out, so it really is the responsibility of the school, to find those resources to tap into a lot of the free and available resources for Google Chrome, tap into zoom, because there's a lot of training and free information that's out there. But they have to kind of know how to go about that. Now the problem is, is a lot of schools didn't even have technical leaders at their school. So now they're having to designate or even find a parent to help volunteer, I think the whole community has to step in, if you have some skill sets in your school district. Man, we need you


see, that's why it just keeps you just keep on pulling on that string. It has to happen. And I think the sort of the silver lining in all this is that kids are pretty resilient. They're pretty they bounce around. They can they like, like, I I always have problems with teams. It doesn't boot up for whatever reason. I'm not blaming teams, Microsoft, I'm not blaming you trust. However, sometimes it's like, it doesn't want to boot up and then I gotta do this. I gotta do I gotta do a couple of things. That's me. Okay. But when I'm in it, it has so much more capabilities. Wow. And I don't even use teeny fraction of it, man compared I


just yeah, I mean, I think the collaboration piece is the part that I think people don't know enough about. But, you know, midsize businesses are probably learning even more so about especially since they have a lot of their employees and their staff working from home. And so it's like, Okay, what other tools? can we leverage? And we use? Oh, my gosh, by the way, we're already paying for this license. Why are we not getting the full capabilities out of all the services that are being offered? So, I mean, the vendors also have to do a better job at communicating that. Yes, there.


There it is, man, I'm just telling you, when you started down that road, I just said it, vendors, do it. Get off your toolkit, so just


know, all of this stuff that we could do with this? Yeah, it's like think virtual think that these guys are at home? And definitely, what else can you share with them that they need to be using? You want to you want that stickiness? You want them to renew their license? Yeah, there's other stuff coming, believe me, because of this. Yeah, there's competition coming.


And you know, it's great. Whenever if we get past it, and this is the next normal, whatever new normal, whatever that normal looks like. And kids have to go back to school, and then kids get sick. Now all of a sudden, the infrastructure is in place, you could be sick at home and still go to school. Sorry, kids.


Yeah. And I think that we're probably a few years away. Um, I look at what's coming down the pipeline with the vaccine, and I'm no, no health expert, but we all know that the children are going to be at the lower end of that list of priorities, unless they have diabetes, or you know, asthma or whatever, some kind of condition. So, yep, that means that students kids K through 12 mean, they are going to be remotely learning for maybe longer, then, you know, even parents going back to work. So well, that's also a problem, right? How do we get our parents back to work if they have to be with their kids at home?


I am so glad that elevate our kids is taking responsibility for that and and coming up with solutions.


We're doing our best,


you're doing your best. That's all you can, and you're passionate about. And that's what's important to


Yeah, we're super, we're super excited. And we can't wait to make some of our formal announcements. And hopefully, we have some other corporations and big companies that want to get involved in and, you know, give back because we're really focused on focusing on diverse neighborhoods and inclusivity. And those that are really just underfunded, they need support.


There's a ton How do you find out that a community is underfunded?


Yeah, so there's quite a few there. There's already quite a few information database was at the federal state local levels, to showcase what percentage of those students are on lunch programs, what kind of funding yet so there's some stats that are out there. Also, in both our application process, as well as T mobile's Project 2 million application process. It's asking all of those types of questions. Yeah, to understand where they're located. Do they even have an IT department? Do they currently fund and provide equipment to students? And then of course, the funding information? There's a lot of publicly available information. Of course, we're focusing on public schools, not private schools, right. So there's a lot of information that's already available.


Seeing you being a researcher, it's not nothing big. I know to go here, dear dude, Dad, did you know yeah, it's not a big deal for you. It's not a big deal, you have to take that. You have to take that call. Because you have to you just go right ahead. We'll just sort of hang tight here.


Let me tell you my problem. I filled out a form to research health insurance for my small business for my family. And I should not have hit the submit button because I'm getting about 50 phone calls.


They know how to contact you.


It's really, really bad. And he's like, they're offering me credit up to $99,000.


Get out of there. Good for you.


No, that's not good. I'm also on that list. Stephanie funding lists.


Yeah, that's funny. Okay, so we're gonna have to wrap this up. Now, I see that you're pretty active out there on LinkedIn. If people want to get a hold of you, I would say go to LinkedIn. Is that a decent way of doing it?


laden or Twitter? I'm pretty active on all social media channels. I would say I think about businesses in general, Twitter and LinkedIn are the business social apps face. I




Business. Instagram is great. If you're in retail, I'm selling something but outside of that, it's not a very big tech. You know,


what's your, what's your Twitter?


I'm Steph. Athens, 2011. Steph accident, actually,


that's GPH. Atkins.


Yes, Steph Atkins is my Twitter account and compass Intel as well, but I'm actually way more active on Steph Atkins than I am Census


until you know why you know why people are far more interested in connecting with people as opposed to companies. It just is. I think


the same thing with same thing with LinkedIn. If you look at your company page, if you don't, it's not as there's not a lot of movement interactions. If you post something, it's from you personally. People respond.


Yeah, that's exactly correct. That's why we're social creatures. Be social out there. All right, Stephanie, thank you very much for joining the industrial debt. You were absolutely wonderful. And I'm really big into that. elevate our kids every time I talk to you and others that have now all of a sudden, I want to just put on my, you know, help the world hat. And,


you know, bite off we call it we call it tech for good we have if we're not giving back for good to do it. Well, you know what, Scott, I want to thank you for inviting me. And thank you rob Tiffany, for introducing us because this is pretty awesome.


He, he's a sparkplug just like you.


That's why we do well on IoT coffee talk together. I think all of us on that on that podcast. We all are a hot mess. So we love each other.


And we could go a long time on why that's important. Especially if you want to get into the tech for good world. You got to be real to you got to be human.




Listen to me change up those webinars. Please change them up. Make them fun. Alright, Stephanie, thank you very much. All right, listeners. You know the rule. You're gonna have to stick around. We're gonna sum it up on the other side. So stay tuned. And thank you very much again for joining the industrial talk podcast. We will be right back. You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


What did I tell you? Did she just dropped the truth bombs or what Stephanie Atkinson? She is the co founder and just all around great person at compass. Intelligence. V Marky Mark barky. Sorry, Stephanie. V mark. That's Mar qu E. And then of course founder and president of elevate our kids, that's what we talked about. big heart. Big solutions, bold, brave. She does greatly she is somebody that you want to hang out with, go out to her on LinkedIn, reach out, connect, you will not be disappointed again. We need to collaborate, innovate and definitely educate. That means you need to go to this digital summit. It is all three of those wrapped up in a great event. That's December 2, through December 3, artificial intelligence digital cleanse on the docket. It'll all be out there and does Real Talk Comm. Thank you very much for joining be safe. And we'll be back with another great interview. Take care

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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