Jeff Frantz: “We’re living in a shrinking world that is expanding in complexity”

Digital Space Management can be leveraged by humans and machines to help better navigate spaces, avoid unsafe situations, increase efficiency of workers, automate businesses and allow machines and humans to work side by side. It can be applied to all spaces, big and small, indoor and outdoor including roadways and entire cities. I think it […]

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Digital Space Management can be leveraged by humans and machines to help better navigate spaces, avoid unsafe situations, increase efficiency of workers, automate businesses and allow machines and humans to work side by side. It can be applied to all spaces, big and small, indoor and outdoor including roadways and entire cities. I think it has the potential to change the world as we know it.

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Frantz.

As the Executive Director of the Verizon Location Technology team, Jeff leads a talented and diversified team of engineers, data scientists, product, marketing and commercialization individuals to provide location services across Verizon for both internal and external customers. He brings to bear his background in partnerships, sales, and execution to deliver location services to Verizon and its customers. Prior to joining Verizon, Jeff was VP of Partnerships at Oracle Data Cloud. In his free time, you’ll find him enjoying the Colorado outdoors with his wife and four kids.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up, I was fascinated by architecture. I loved the idea of designing spaces that are both functional and beautiful, and appreciated the aesthetics of buildings and places. I enjoyed sketching, the creativity, and the idea of seeing the impact and physical results of your work was really appealing to me.

I started college as an architecture major, but by the end of the semester, I knew it wasn’t going to be a long term fit. For our final project, we were tasked with drawing the entirety of the massive, and incredibly detailed student center building to scale. The 200 plus hours and countless all-nighters sunk into that project felt more like a chore than a creative outlet.

So I made the switch. I consulted with friends and family, and landed on the most challenging and rigorous business degree my school had to offer: Management Information Systems, which combined technical and coding work with more corporate topics like finance and economics. I found writing code to be a surprising creative outlet and loved seeing the results of a program working on execution.

After school, I was hired to do IT consulting for PricewaterhouseCoopers and from there joined a startup named BlueKai that was eventually acquired by Oracle. After several years at Oracle, I joined Verizon to lead their Location Technology team.

A big part of what Verizon’s Location team is focused on is leveraging the power of location intelligence to create smarter spaces. In this position, I’ve been able to combine my love of technology, with the concept of creating more efficient and functional spaces.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

This is a deeply personal story, but it’s a big part of what motivates me and makes the work that we’re doing on the Location team so important.

During my time at BlueKai, I came to know someone who worked at Verizon. She was an incredible person, a fantastic colleague and eventually became a good friend. In a tragic turn of events, she and her fiance were killed in an auto accident on the way to their wedding. The collision was completely preventable, and unpredictable… It felt like such a senseless loss of life.

It seemed like a strange coincidence when Verizon reached out to me about an opportunity to lead their Location team, not long after. My friend loved working for Verizon, and I felt this strong calling to give it a shot. After interviewing, and accepting the position, I found out that my new boss had worked closely with my friend’s fiance as well. It felt like fate.

Today, my team works hard to create safer, more efficient spaces…including roadways. My hope is that our work can help prevent accidents, save lives and make the roads safer for everyone. It’s impactful work, that’s very important to me.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”? Can you tell us about Digital Space Management?

We’re living in a shrinking world that is expanding in complexity. Today, we put higher demands on people’s time, on efficiency, on safety and on businesses being able to respond to more demanding, evolving situations.

To meet those needs, Verizon is bringing to market a Digital Space Management platform that creates digital, connected, real-time representations of spaces, infused with enormous amounts of data and intelligence.

Digital Space Management is the next evolution in mapping technology, which creates a centralized hub to help map, represent, track, and manage all objects, assets and activities within a physical space, all kept up to date in near-real-time. The platform leverages IoT sensor fusion, Artificial Intelligence, 5G connectivity, edge and cloud computing, location technology and Digital Twin technology.

Digital Space Management can enable the discovery, management and orchestration of spaces. It can help digitize and connect the world in new ways, helping to enable smarter decisions and building a better future.

How do you think Digital Space Management might change the world?

I think the better question is: “How will it not?”

Right now, we can explore the world through very simplistic 2D maps, or with our own eyes and ears. Digital Space Management is all about categorizing, cataloging, centralizing, contextualizing and indexing every single high value object in a space, so it can be explored, discovered, organized and orchestrated in new ways. Think about the way the internet revolutionized the way we obtain and process information, almost instantaneously and with ease. Beforehand, we had to dig up the encyclopedia to find new information! Digital Space Management has the potential to revolutionize spaces in a similar way. This could be a game changer, because now, people don’t have to physically be in a space to visually see it, to understand and orchestrate it.

Digital Space Management can be leveraged by humans and machines to help better navigate spaces, avoid unsafe situations, increase efficiency of workers, automate businesses and allow machines and humans to work side by side. It can be applied to all spaces, big and small, indoor and outdoor including roadways and entire cities. I think it has the potential to change the world as we know it.

Can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

That’s an interesting question. I think there are certainly bad actors out there that look for ways to weaponize technology, and you’d be remiss to ignore that. I talked earlier about the creation of the internet, which was built to democratize access to data and information, but can be exploited by those with ill intent. With every new technology, you have to think about the implications, especially in this new digital age.

As we build Digital Space Management, and other nascent technologies, we have to be cautious and do our best to safeguard against potential threats and counter them. Verizon takes safety, security and privacy very seriously, and we have sophisticated measures in place to help create and maintain a high level of reliability for our customers. We are building this technology on top of our secure network, which means better business, and ultimately better results.

Do you think Digital Space Management will be adopted widely?

The short answer is yes. Here’s why:

When I think about Digital Space Management, I consider how many spaces can benefit from this technology, and the level of insight and understanding that comes with it. But it’s also much bigger than adding value to just one singular space. Think about the powerful web of knowledge that can be created when there is information sharing between spaces, and they become fully connected. You create an entire ecosystem of information sharing.

As a simple example, imagine if a retailer had a deep understanding of what products in their stores are selling, when and why. If that data is shared back in real time with the manufacturers, the retailer can use that data to make production changes and allocate resources more efficiently. Alternatively if there are manufacturing or shipping delays, and retailers have this data, they can make adjustments to their sales, inventory displays and more, to ensure customers have a better in-store experience.

Right now, we’re very selective with where we want to deploy. We think the challenges and the opportunities facing the manufacturing and logistics industry make it a ripe target to benefit from Digital Space Management. If we start with these more complex problems, we will be able to replicate and expand on it naturally across other spaces that may be less complex, but could also benefit from this technology (think corporate offices, retail and college campuses). We’re trying to solve the right challenges now, with the right technology, and we’re going where our customers pull us.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I had an incredible mentor who used to say that you don’t have to be a jerk (he was more blunt) to be successful. He’s the best leader I’ve ever worked for, and was so skilled at making people feel valued and heard. His view has stuck with me throughout my career. It often comes to mind and helps me continue to ask if there’s a more collaborative way to do things and bring people into the fold.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find me on LinkedIn, or follow Verizon on the following channels:

Jeff Frantz — LinkedIn

Verizon — Facebook

Verizon — Twitter

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