Compass One Connections welcomed Compass Digital Labs CEO, Jugveer Randhawa, to the show. We talk about CDL and Compass One's partnership on a day-to-day level as well as our big initiatives in technology innovation including the launch of Compass Digital Ventures.
COC: So Compass Digital Labs, just give me the broad stroke. What do you guys do on a day-to-day basis and who do you serve within the compass family?
Jugveer: So I'll say it very specifically, we are the internal entity to Compass Group North America who drives technology, digital transformation and technology innovation. Directly we serve B&I, healthcare and education across North America. And that includes Canada, we were, I guess, conceived, built over here first, piloted. And then we moved to the US.
Jugveer: But we're responsible for driving digital into those businesses and helping to grow through digital capabilities.
COC: And that whole world has changed so much in the last decade. I mean, everything now you hear about is just analytics and digital this and digital that. What are some of the applications that you guys are working on right now when it pertains to our world of Compass One Healthcare and Morrison and Crothall?
Jugveer: I mean, Compass One has, I think ... There's parts of it that are newer, but I think parts of it have been a journey for quite a while. Technology has been, as you know, a part of day-to-day working for quite a while now since email and computers. But I think that what really, over the last seven years I would say, what really started to happen was a few things was, one, consumer applications group. It was not just your PC and email and communication and servers in a room somewhere to storing data. It was consumer applications that grew. And I think the one phenomenon we saw was that on the retail side, Starbucks started this whole retail experience and they had their loyalty program and they had their app. And what that really changed was consumer expectations of what a cafe experience was.
Jugveer: So I'd say in Compass One, I mean, there's so many areas, there's services, there's patient feeding, there's patient transport, observation. We have clinical HTS, which is healthcare technology services. There's a lot there, but I really think that in healthcare what we're doing is, one, is building a complete hospital experience. I'm stealing Brett Warcola who runs our healthcare division, his words, but a complete hospital experience and a complete hospital view. And that is really about how do we take care of the services and enable all the services around the business of running a hospital. Which is outside of the clinical stuff that is obviously core to what they do.
COC: Right. Fascinating. And there's so many things that go on and around the hospital, especially when you talk about Compass One and all the different parts from retail, all the way to the patient transport and everything. So you guys got your finger on the pulse of a lot of this stuff that's going on with Compass One and trying to take it to that next level, so to speak. Is that correct?
Jugveer: Yeah. I mean, the team's super engaged on all angles, so we get to play with Dudley and Dawn and the team on new sales. We get to form the innovation roadmap, build that content, pitch it to clients, tell them why we do things differently. We're involved in the day-to-day business, which involves making sure systems are on. I mean, there's about 108,000 meals every day going through our patient feeding system. I mean, if you think about it, that's probably feeding one meal to every person in the state of California a year, every single person. Or in Canada, it's the whole country. We're feeding the whole country of Canada through patient dining.
Jugveer: You have thousands of tasks on our task management or team apps, we call it, which are making sure we have clarity and transparency in all the tasks we're managing throughout a hospital. You have the healthcare technology, this is the one when I first and ... Brett and team, we put together a couple of technology teams earlier last year. And I was able to learn a little bit about the stuff we do. For example, with healthcare technology, which is we literally maintain MRI machines, X-ray machines.
COC: Oh, wow.
Jugveer: There's a lot of amazing work that we do that I think sits in the background. But really it's about how do we grow, so we help the sales team on innovation. And that view to the client about why Compass One is the best in the business and why we're a long-term partner. The day-to-day, which is patient serving, all the retail systems, all the security that goes behind it, all this stuff around our call center. And then also we have to take care of security, privacy, and all those data needs. So it's really end-to-end.
Jugveer: It's a big scope of world. I can say Brett and team are really, really busy.
Jugveer: But growing. I mean, there's been huge growth over the last few years like you said.
COC: Speaking of growth, I know there's always emerging technologies and robotics and cameras and things like that. Are you guys dabbling into that world, and how's that going to affect what we do on a day-to-day basis?
Jugveer: Absolutely. I mean, we've seen ... Amazon was the pioneer. I think everyone saw Amazon Go stores, where you just walk in, walk out and cameras watch what you pick up and they know where your phone is. And they hit your Amazon account for whatever dollars you're going to spend. The impetus to what happened was is that there's hardware creation, which was cameras, which have been in our Blackberries back when they were popular.
Jugveer: But then what happens is, is you get development of that hardware with software. So in all of this camera technology, there's technology or software technology called things like TensorFlow. It's developed by Google. And they developed basically, in simple terms, a way for you to code what a camera sees to mimic what eyeballs can see, and almost create a learning algorithm behind it so it can identify an object associated to a skew and then actually be able to do all that. So when Amazon came out, I think it was in 2016, '17, with Amazon Go, the market got flooded. There's so much investment saying, "Hey, wait a minute." Six, seven companies popped up. Compass is working with probably the second most funded after Amazon. But what it really allowed us to do is, now you have these eyeballs you can place everywhere.
Jugveer: So for example, manual tasks. So there's some early exploration we're doing on, can we validate that the trays are accurate when we're patient feeding based on an order? Can you validate that the right food groups are on a tray? There's sensory technology-
COC: That's a game-changer.
Jugveer: It's a game-changer, right, because now you have eyeballs without having to need the rest of the body. You just have the eyeballs.
Jugveer: So what's really interesting for us is that how this is going to change the design of our services. This technology, obviously, when it first comes out, like Teslas were super expensive, and over time they get economical.
So we're doing a lot on the retail side, but there's also a lot of work that the team's doing on understanding, are there computer vision technologies that can help us on tray tracking, tray validation, tray, accuracy. Or we do a lot in patient observation where we provide that service. Well, can you use this for that? Can you alert a nurse that there's something going on without needing a person waiting there?
So again, we're right at the beginning, we're just at the tip of the iceberg. Amazon being Amazon, they're well down the road and they're well-funded, but I think this changes ... It's always about that hardware creation, the software to actually control it, and then what you can do with it down the road.
COC: Just fascinating. I mean, it really is fascinating because the possibilities are limitless when you start talking about this kind of technology. It blows my mind.
COC: But speaking to that, I know there's a big step for digital ventures. You guys launched it not too long ago in August or so. And talk to us about that Digital Ventures and what you're out there trying to find with that division?
Jugveer: Yeah, we launched ... I mean, COVID did so much, it made us look at ourselves, pivot, think about the future. I mean, I think after every pandemic you see some type of massive change in innovation.
Jugveer: Whether it'd been the wars, financial crisis, dot.com, you see innovation because there's a high level of unemployment and there's a high level of problems. And you probably got people around sitting around trying to know how to solve them. They're a big indicator.
So when we looked at, over the pandemic, we officially launched Compass Digital Ventures in August. And Scott Wu, who's the CTO at CDL, he's running this. And what it was was really a formalization of how do we take the size, the scale, and all of the customer, client touch points we have, use that to attract the best, the brightest. And get the earliest access to these new technologies in Silicon Valley, in Austin, in New York and other startup areas. I mean, outside of the US there's a bunch too, we're not looking there yet. But places like Israel, China, India, there's a lot of hubs that are creating really cool new technology.
So what Compass Digital Ventures was really was a formalization of something we had been doing for three, four years. But to say, "We're going to farm out problems we don't solve on our own. We're not going to resource them or we don't have the skillset, but we're going to give you startup, this path inside of Compass One to scale your technology. And we have the expertise on the industry, you have the expertise on the technology. And if we put it both together, we can do something great."
And the way Compass benefits, I mean, CDV is not necessarily about investing in these companies monetarily, but when you could provide them this path to scale, it helps us too. We can bring things to market before our competition and really provide something better to our clients. Which is what we sell to them, that we're better longterm. We innovate all the time.
Jugveer: So it was really formalization of that.
COC: Yeah. Again, just fascinating stuff. And just, it's so cool to me hear all this because you just don't know where it's going to lead to. Like who you're going to find that's going to solve a problem that you guys don't want to deal with, to somebody comes up with their technologies, "Hey, we got this." And all of a sudden you're like, "Wow, that's awesome." And it helps the whole company across the board. Just really cool stuff.
COC: I'll end with this last question for you, Jugveer. Tell the people that are listening and watching this podcast, what do you see the immediate future for Compass One? And what you guys do at Compass Digital Labs, what do you see the immediate future, as far as things and changes, they can expect from the digital side of the world?
Jugveer: I mean, we work in really close partnership with the folks inside of Compass One, the teams are quite intermeshed.
Jugveer: I would say immediately ... I mean, look what we're coming out of this, where everyone's been sitting at home for a year, ordering Door Dash, ordering anything they want on mobile. So we have a mobile first strategy. People are going to look to their phone first to make their decisions on what they eat, where they may go for healthcare, how they want to interact with their doctor, how they interact with us.
Jugveer: I mean, that's where it's going to lead. So the immediate change I think for us is, is that we're going to enter a period of rapid change, where what next year is, is not the year after, is not the year after. So adaptability, I think is a strength in Compass. I think we're really good at adapting and maneuvering and pivoting.
Jugveer: But I think from our side, we're really pushing the mobile side and we're really pushing the data side. We have so much information. Now we're sitting on a pile of 10 years of patient feeding data.
Jugveer: It's endless, like you said, it just ... As this thing unravels, it's like an onion, you just go onto the next thing and the next thing, and then you see opportunities, go forward.
COC: Yeah, no doubt. Again, just awesome stuff. And I want to just thank you again for taking the time to share with all that knowledge with us today.