This January saw six years of validation come to fruition as Pointr’s Deep Location® Platform was officially announced as a part of the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and Pointr was declared a partner of choice for Microsoft customers in need of indoor location services.
It’s a journey that began back in 2014 when we became part of the Microsoft Accelerator London (now Microsoft Scale Up), which became an invaluable platform through which we could connect with bigger clients and make a genuine impact. It also gave us access to a team of global ambassadors to help us pitch to major clients and accelerate our business growth.
Microsoft’s validation back then meant a lot and helped a lot too. Today, we feel that our new evolved partnership is a win-win solution for both parties and their clients. Through our alliance, we were given access to a great team and were able to sign key deals. Microsoft provides expert guidance to their customers for their digital transformation projects and they help us connect with these customers when there’s a need we can solve with our industry-leading indoor location technology. A truly symbiotic relationship.
If we hadn't gone on that journey with them, we wouldn’t have had the ability to scale at nearly the same speed. Microsoft Azure has allowed us to scale naturally and quickly, and the support we got from them as both an ISV partner and as part of the accelerator is what allowed us to grow globally and enter new markets.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little here. Before we can explore our relationship with Microsoft and what it means going forward, we need to tell you a little bit about ourselves. So, let’s start at the beginning.
Who is Pointr?
In an increasingly remote world, GPS has become the cornerstone of countless industries - from food delivery to transport and online dating. Pointr, however, saw a gap in the market. What about indoor location?
Before Pointr, there was no established, scalable and accurate indoor location technology available that allowed users to interact with large buildings such as shopping malls, airports, hospitals and workplaces through location-based services. Large venues were forced to rely on poor performing positioning and wayfinding and often confusing maps. Enter the Deep Location® platform, which digitizes physical venues and enables businesses to create immersive location experiences and improve their operations.
Pointr’s mission statement from the offset was to become the go-to company for indoor location and it’s a mission we’ve spent the last six years honing in close collaboration with our partners at Microsoft.
How Microsoft Azure has supported our business
Leveraging the Microsoft co-sell program as an ISV partner (Independent Software Vendor) has allowed us to close monumental deals all over the world without having to build out a dedicated sales team in those regions. As an ISV of Microsoft Commercial partner network, Microsoft employees have incorporated our technology into exciting digital transformation projects for Microsoft customers, acting as ambassadors at regional level.
According to Ege Akpinar, CEO at Pointr: “Working alongside Microsoft, we have been able to accelerate our company growth and to close global deals with international airports, retailers, blue-chip companies and hospitals. As the number 1 player in the market, 100% of our customers have asked us at one point or another if we can deploy on Microsoft Azure. We can not only definitively tell them that we can, but that we are a partner of choice of Microsoft for indoor location.”
In January, Pointr was officially announced as part of the Microsoft Azure marketplace. Sahir Anand, Principal/Category Lead of Retail & CPG for Microsoft Azure, was “pleased to welcome Pointr Deep Location® to the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, which gives our partners great exposure to cloud customers around the globe.” Trevayne O'Brien, Head of Partnerships at Pointr, added that “being part of the Microsoft Azure Marketplace enables Pointr to provide Deep Location® at scale to Microsoft Azure customers globally.”
Smart Mobility with Pointr & Microsoft
Deep Location® is a solution that allows for smart and safe mobility, which is even more vital in the age of COVID-19. With location-based services at airports and train stations, Pointr ensures social distancing, a simplified passenger experience and more efficient operations.
With the accurate location analytics provided by Deep Location®, operators can also eliminate bottlenecks, manage occupancy limits and ensure cleaning compliance. The Pointr platform also offers unique locational insights including passenger flows or congestion heatmaps, that can be used to help users make more informed and safe decisions. Contact tracing also means that passengers can be alerted if they are at risk.
The platform isn’t just about keeping users safe either; it’s about giving them a more consistent passenger experience. Passengers get a smart navigation assistant for their smartphone that shows them directions from the moment they arrive right up until they find their seat. The navigation system is also available in AR (Augmented Reality), which means directions are placed digitally in the real world to show the way easily. With the help of geofencing, airlines and train operators can even send push notifications to warn passengers if they are running late.
It’s a solution that is easy to integrate within bespoke apps from airlines, airports or train operators and with the power of Microsoft Azure behind it, that integration is easier. Microsoft featured our platform recently in the Autumn 2020 issue of the company’s very own Technology Record industry publication.
This followed a spate of major wins, including a six-figure contract with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to provide indoor navigation at 2 international airports. We also secured contracts with six major airports in Thailand, Dubai Airport and worked with Microsoft themselves on one of their Soundscape projects, working with Guide Dogs to enable passengers with sight loss to complete end-to-end journeys with minimal assistance at King’s Cross Station.
Personalized retail experiences with Pointr & Microsoft
With COVID-19 changing the retail landscape more profoundly and with greater speed than in modern history, retail apps are more relevant than ever. Earlier this year, we joined the National Retail Federation and asked our partners at Microsoft what they thought the future would bring for retail. They predicted that cloud-based apps would have a more prominent role in retail in the next 10 years and that was before the major COVID-19 developments took hold and accelerated the trend towards merged digital and physical (or “Phygital”) retail.
According to ShiSh Shridhar, Microsoft’s Director for Market Development & Strategy, Azure IoT (Edge AI & Mobility), who met our team at NRF, the battle between brick and mortar and online could become a truce sooner rather than later. Speaking back in January, he said: “It’s really going to be about phygital spaces and the ability to seamlessly move wherever you are to provide the ability to begin and end your shopping experience, whether you’re online or offline.”
Paul Maher, Microsoft Partner, General Manager for Industry Experiences, meanwhile, feels that the buying trends and the insights we’re seeing from the millennial generation prove there is a definite shift away from solely brick-and-mortar shopping experiences to a middle-ground. This will be a “blurring of the lines between online and the in-store experience by leveraging AR and VR and greater personalization,” which is only possible using platforms such as Deep Location® to help users navigate this new and exciting phygital world with confidence.
An evolving partnership
Today, the Pointr Deep Location® platform is available in 18 countries and over 1,000 venues, powering around 250 million data points.
Our relationship with Microsoft has evolved since those early Accelerator days. We now support Microsoft and its end customers on their digital transformation projects with our bespoke in-store and smart building experiences. We provide great experiences to visitors, employees and customers as they engage with large buildings through digital wayfinding, location-based notifications or location sharing. We enable building operators to analyze and predict how visitors interact with the space, ensuring better operations and business decisions as a result.
Our customers include everyone from the iconic London department store Harrods and international museums to KPMG and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS contract was a particularly strong win and allowed us to integrate smart wayfinding solutions using queue times and real-time indoor positioning at some of the largest US airports. Most recently, we signed a contract with US hospital UCHealth to guide patients and visitors throughout the campus and its many buildings.
6 years later, our journey continues with smart workplace
It’s been six long and fruitful years but that doesn’t mean we’re content to sit and rest on our existing victories. We’re always looking towards the future for new opportunities. In recent months we’ve added even more strings to our bow by taking a significant step into the workplace of the future. Our smart workplace project with KPMG recently won the prestigious award for Smart Building Innovation of the Year by research firm Verdantix and we will soon announce more partnerships and deals in the space.
The future is unwritten
As far as our journey with Microsoft is concerned, this is only the beginning.
Microsoft Azure is one of the most respected and reliable cloud solutions platforms with millions of active users across the globe and Deep Location® is a solution that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. Ultimately, we work better together and it’s a partnership that we see evolving even further over time.
Going forward, we hope to continue doing more business together and enabling great visitor and employee experiences. By working together, we can utilize the best elements of both parties to deliver industry-leading location intelligence and encourage clients on this innovative journey using the power of such a booming co-selling platform.
It’s truly a win-win solution and we’re already looking ahead to next year’s Microsoft Inspire 2021 as an opportunity to connect with relevant customers and new partners and help them to support their own digital transformation agendas.