Never lose your assets! Albert Baker and Patrick McGowan join Ryan Chacon on the IoT For All Podcast to discuss IoT asset tracking with location intelligence. They cover what location intelligence is, the value of location data, dealing with customers asking for impossible solutions, balancing between bespoke customer needs and your business roadmap, integrating with legacy systems, and how companies can keep up with new technology.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(00:48) Introduction to Albert, Patrick, and danalto
(03:45) What is location intelligence?
(08:02) The value of location data
(12:46) Dealing with customers asking for impossible solutions
(15:21) Balancing between custom solutions and business roadmap
(17:37) Integrating with legacy systems
(20:01) How companies can keep up with new technology
(24:17) Learn more and follow up
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast. I’m Ryan Chacon. And on today’s episode we’re going to talk about location intelligence, the value location data provides to businesses, how to collect it, how to go about doing location data and location intelligence correctly. With me today will be Albert Baker, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of danalto and Patrick McGowan, a sales and industry consultant. For those of you unfamiliar with danalto, they are a B2B SaaS company specializing in position intelligence. Great conversation. I think you’ll get a lot of value out of it. Give this video a thumbs up, subscribe to our channel if you have not done so already, and hit that bell icon, so you get the latest episodes as soon as they are out. Other than that, let’s get on to the episode.
Welcome Albert and Patrick to the IoT For All Podcast. Thanks for both of you being here this week.
– [Albert] Thanks, Ryan.
– [Patrick] Thank you.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s great to have you both. Let’s go ahead and kick this off with some introductions. I’ll have you both kinda just talk about background experience, introduce yourself to our audience, and maybe talk a little bit about the company and kind of what the focus is over there. Patrick, you want to kick it off?
– [Patrick] Sure. My name’s Pat McGowan. I’m located in Michigan just outside of Ann Arbor. No, I’m not a Wolverine. I’m a Michigan State Spartans fan. I’ve been working in conjunction with danalto for, coming on a year and a half right now as far as consulting and working with them in sales and business development.
My background is for 20 plus years, I’ve been doing real-time location systems, tracking software systems, and specializing in not only RFID, but BLE and ultra-wideband, what have you, as a global effort to everything from oil, gas, mining, global construction, aerospace, defense, specializing in tracking assets and assets can be construed as people, an asset on a work site to materials to structural steel, what have you.
But that’s my specialty and I found that danalto has really garnered a lot of attention in the industry and it’s an ability to bring a lot of resources together. So I’m formally with a bunch of other companies that were startups and eventually rolled them into being sold.
One of them got sold to Hexagon Corporation. I formally worked at Park Labs, Palo Alto Research. I was a VP there for four years. So I’ve got a varied background.
– [Ryan] Very nice. Albert?
– [Albert] Hey Ryan, thanks and great to be here with IoT For All. So, I’m a co-founder of danalto. And I have the pleasure of working with Pat in the US, but we are a wholly Irish-owned company and an Irish-based company. So most of our engineers are here in Ireland. We’re about six and a half years old, and we’re about 18 people full-time at the moment.
We’re a VC backed startup coming out of the university sector. I have a technical background in telecoms engineering and software development. But I lead the business development operations. So really the company is focused on a platform for positioning intelligence. So we’re going a while, we’ve got 120 million data points on the platform, lot of government contracts.
I’m sure we’ll get to talk about some exciting use cases today. But thanks for having us.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely. That’s fantastic. Thank you both for those overviews. What you all have going on over at danalto is super exciting, so I’m glad we’re able to find the time to jump on and do this podcast for our audience. One of the things I wanted to kinda kick this off about or kick this off around is talking about location intelligence and just high leveling it for our audience as to what exactly it is.
Then we’ll dive into some use cases but if one of you would like to just talk about location intelligence and overall what that is, what that space is, just to catch our audience up would be fantastic.
– [Albert] Yeah, I’ll just give you my view on it. So really, so what we found, I guess if you take the average person with, when they think about location, it’s probably their cell phone. I want to navigate from where I am to a location using Google Maps, Apple Maps, Ways or something like this. And what location or positioning intelligence really does is if you think of the owner of a bunch of assets on a lay down yard, on an oil refinery, or some kind of construction site, or anywhere like an airport or a city.
What you’re actually looking to understand is the movement of multiple dots. It’s not just me as a dot who needs to get to a location, but hundreds or thousands of assets or people, to keep them safe, to make it sure a process is acting correctly and sticking to the plan. So what positioning intelligence and the analytics on top of this location data does is sort of try and slice these bits of these data sets and say well, okay, during this time period, we now understand that this group of assets are people, went into an area where maybe they weren’t supposed to, and we can move them out of that area. We can maybe help them if they’re in an area that they’re not supposed to be. Are they in there too long?
So those high level kind of helicopter views of what’s going on over a period, that to me is what the location analytics piece is all about.
– [Patrick] Albert’s depiction is spot on because basically what, we can look at it and say, when we used to look for directions, we used to take a map out and Ryan, if you told me where you lived, I had to go through a lot of hoops to get to your driveway, whereas the technology today can deliver me right to your front door.
That’s what’s going on in industry right now. There’s a tremendous amount of technology that has been born over the last few years. And the interesting part is they’re all able to do certain segments of industry and solving the solution of where is my fill in the blank. What we have found out is to aggregate all of that data has become the real issue.
People look at it and say, well I want this, and I want that, and I need a little bit of this, but I don’t want three screens going on. Stepping back 10 feet, what this does is that if you can get these technologies to work in your business, whether you’re a hospital, you’re in a Boeing aircraft, or Dow Chemical or what have you, you need to be able to gain access to that data in a very easy fashion.
And once you get that data, it’s gonna give you things, Albert talked about site safety. It’s paramount. I don’t care where you’re working, what you do, taking care of your assets, the workers is paramount. Second thing is you look into the ability to save time. We’ve heard time is money.
Everybody struggles with that today, that if I could get to what I need to have in my hands or to the site on a lay down yard and grab that piece of fill in the blank, I can do my job more efficiently which actually translates into productivity. At the end of the day, this is all about productivity.
You’ve got your work for hire. You’re building something, you’re taking care of a patient or whatever. We have to transition this ability to grab all of this data out there, feed it into a usable form and hand it to the worker as it would be to take care of the task and the return on these investments are pretty significant that if we can get a reduction of time using these technologies, mission accomplished.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. Do you think maybe one you could take our audience through just, it doesn’t have to be too lengthy, but just more quickly through a individual use case where location data is being used to help elevate that business performance insights, the decision making, saving them money, really seeing that ROI in one of these industries that you all are focused on.
I know you’ve already mentioned the oil space and there’s another number of others that I’m sure this all applies to, but just bringing it full circle for our audience on how businesses can use this location data to provide that value.
– [Patrick] There’s a consortium, an industry consortium called Construction Industry Institute and Construction Industry Round Table. We think of them, they’re building, but this is all the owners. These are the people that are actually contracting companies to build, whether it’s a refinery or a hospital, what have you.
And the age old problem was they would order material for the project, they would order equipment and tools, and they would have it on the construction site. And typically what was happening prior to this technology coming into the forefront was that they would spend hours and hours and hours and an average worker at the time was, unburdened, $56 an hour, and you got three guys walking around trying to find a valve or a piece of steel and it took them two hours. The next thing you know, it’s not just that you’re paying these guys and they’re looking for it for three hours. The ripple effect is that you have welders and you have guys running cranes, they’re all sitting there waiting for this missing piece to show up.
So, Construction Industry Institute did a two year study with major universities through the Americas, University of Texas, Austin, the University of Waterloo, Ontario with industry behemoths like Bechtel and Fluor and Alcoa and so on and so forth. And they put together a work study that took two years, and they were able to find by using this technology that we speak of, that they were able to get a tenfold reduction as an average.
On getting their hands on the material and finding where it was on site. What that ended up doing was speeding up the process, keeping the jobs on time, keeping your collective labor productive. But also, interestingly enough, Ryan, was feeding predictability information to software systems out there, like SAP, Oracle, Hexagon, Aviva, and such.
Where they were able to say, well wait a second, we don’t have the material. We can’t find the material. We need to reorganize and restructure the expectations for work today. Whereas before you just pay people and they would sit around. Now you can reallocate those resources. The same token, once they found that they could put this system in and start looking for it, they were able to go, well wait a second, I know I’ve got direct and indirect labor here. I can find out where my contractors are supposed to be on the project site. We’re finding this very popular in turnarounds, oil, gas, I did a lot of work in the nuclear industry as well. They all have turnarounds. And to give you an idea for a nuclear site, a turnaround is X amount of days, but if you don’t hit that market, it’s a million dollar a day penalty that that site is not up and running. So, it hits the bottom line. It’s not only safety, but this technology keeps you on track and brings money to the bottom line.
– [Albert] Yeah, and like I thought another one that was quite recent was quite an interesting one, like things that you think are quite easy to count. So for example, you’ve got multiple subcontractors doing a large piece of work like a turnaround event. And for everyone’s transparency, you’re able to tell how many people were actually on site working in what zone for how long, and then you take all that location information and you compare it to the actual plan for that day or week or month.
And you’re able to create new KPIs for shift supervisors or management, which they didn’t have before, or it might have been an estimation. Okay, our turnaround went okay, we think, not really sure. So it’s just that extra data feed, and sometimes it’s not actually very tangible in terms of ROI, but knowledge is power and that’s where the pitch is, definitely.
– [Ryan] Let me ask you guys, from your experience, when you work with these companies and are bringing these technologies in and they’re asking for it to do X, Y, and Z, how do you deal with customers that are looking for solutions that maybe the capabilities are not, don’t exist yet, or the technology’s not mature enough to do what they’re looking to do?
I think there’s a lot of people out there that are on both sides of that equation. Are them looking for things that maybe are not really possible right now? And then those companies that are going into businesses being asked of them to do things that are not possible because of the technology, how do you handle those conversations?
– [Albert] It’s a really good question that’s come up again and again and what has happened typically over, I’ve been doing IoT for about seven years now, and I’ve seen projects fail and projects be very successful. And the ones that fail is where the technology is focused on. So, okay, I heard about this new BLE flavor, or I heard about a new type of technology that I think can address my use case.
And where I’ve seen it be successful is where you focus on what you actually need the data to do? How do you need the data presented to make a change in your world, to make a KPI change, to make somebody safer, to improve a process, to reduce costs, to improve predictability or whatever. Even if we start there and then we drill down, you’re right Ryan, it might be like, okay, well, this isn’t actually straightforward. We don’t have one vendor supplier. And that’s why you have to be quite agile in how you address the use case. So do you really need that accuracy? Do you really need that granular amount of data? How about if we gave you some more higher level data and obviously the technology is simpler.
That’s one approach. Or the second approach is, yeah, you’re able to bring in, so we work with best-of-breed hardware partners and so we’re able to amalgamate different data feeds from different IoT device suppliers or tags, and then bring those all to one platform and present them. To answer your question, you either bring in a few partners from the hardware layer up, or you go and build something bespoke.
Now, if the use case and the project they have is big enough, fine. Takes a long time. It’s more expensive. But the one thing, just, sorry for the long-winded answer, is to start with what you’re going to actually use the data for. A lot of people start down at the technology. I really want my technology to be super cool, different to everyone else, and do something really quirky.
Okay, but is that what you actually need?
– [Ryan] Do you ever find a situation where you’re building something for a customer like maybe a bespoke solution and that starts to put kind of challenge or maybe conflict with the overall business roadmap that you have because you’re needing to build certain things and maybe were not part of your original roadmap.
What does that kind of decision-making process look like to ensure that you’re still making progress on the business side but still satisfying customer needs? Because I’m sure there’s times where you, maybe companies, I know from conversations that I’ve had, have to push companies away because like look, we know what you need, we just know that it’s going to take us way too far away from our end goals by going that far off to build something custom. How is that kind of thought about or handled?
– [Patrick] One of the things that we need to do as practitioners is that we need to take a consultative approach. We need to be able to talk to the client, whatever and whoever they are, and find out what is pushing their requirement, their needs, wants, what have you. To be more direct on your question is we need to, as a company, analyze if somebody like this is asking for it.
We need to also seek other possibilities of other potential people out there and do our due diligence to say, you know what, there’s some really, there’s some there there. We should really look at this. The other side of things is it could come down to clients asking us things that are not possible.
We’re bending light, it’s against physics. So we have the constraints of what is scientifically and physically possible to do.
– [Albert] Well, I was going to say, we’re in a luxurious position in that we deal with software. We’ve got a scalable cloud platform that’s very flexible. So what we have is a bunch of building blocks for a customer. They’re like, oh, well I want something bespoke and that I want to see the data upside down, and I want it to be blue and green, that’s absolutely fine. And we give them the tools to do that. When they work at the lower layer and they want something quite bespoke, we don’t say no either. We say, well, we can bring in partners, see what you need to do. But software is very, very powerful and that’s why we’re in the cloud hosted platform game, so.
– [Ryan] What about on the, what about on the like the integration with their system side of things? So obviously they’re, a lot of times you’re going to be building, bringing something to, into their existing infrastructure. They may be happy with their legacy systems and how things are working, but how do you handle that potential challenge, I guess it would be, and then make them really understand the value of being able to now have access to this data, like the location data like we talked about earlier, that’s gonna save them money, save them time, help them just be more successful across the board. How is that kind of challenge thought about and handled?
And this is one of the last things I wanted to ask you all before we wrap up here because I think it’s a really interesting situation that a lot of companies in IoT come across because they’re usually bringing in new technology into an existing company that has infrastructure and systems already set up.
– [Patrick] There’s a lot of legacy systems that are out there right now. And as companies transition to the next generation of software, to reference Albert’s scenario, case in point, we do have the luxury as a software company being able to bridge the gap between your old legacy system or the system that you had bought from somebody.
They’re transitioning to a new system, whether it’s cloud-based or on-prem, that we can morph this thing for you and give you the path forward that you need.
– [Albert] Yeah, I was just going to say, I mean, Pat, you were talking about integration. So you’re talking about SAP, Autodesk, Oracle, these types of integration. For us, it’s just another feed. So sometimes we will trigger an event in our platform. Now, let’s say for example, a bunch of assets didn’t move out of the yard today and they were supposed to. That could trigger an SMS, something as simple as an SMS, an email, or it can trigger via an API. And we’re all about APIs cause we’re a software, cloud software company, into their, some action onto their SAP platform. So there’s lots of different systems, lots of different versions, and there’s a bit of handshake to be done at the start, but we absolutely have to talk to the legacy IT systems, Ryan, that you mentioned there.
They all have their legacy IT systems. Some of them, they’re trying to get away from, some of them they’re trying to get them more involved in the future projects. So for us it’s just another channel.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely. Last thing I wanted to ask you actually before we wrap up, I just thought about this was we talked about a lot of different things here, and I think one of the things we’ve found to be helpful when companies are engaging with companies like yours is to at least come to the table somewhat educated on what’s out there, what can be done, what are the capabilities that exist.
How do you recommend companies kind of work to educate themselves with what’s, to become familiar with what’s out there and maybe what’s going on in the space, just generally so that those early conversations can be more productive and things can move more quickly.
– [Patrick] One of the first things is whatever industry you’re in, there’s users groups, there’s consortiums, there’s all kinds of things where you can go to conferences and talk to your peers. The other thing is that scan the horizon for workshops. They’re typically non-salesy. And for an example, it’s a shameless plug, but we’re actually putting on a workshop just for what you were talking about, Ryan, is that we want to educate people.
This is not a sales thing, we’re just talking about how these different technologies work. And you get to decide does this technology work for you? You keep, if you’re looking at workshops and stuff like that, you can actually interject questions and what have you, and drill down as to what your needs and requirements are. But your point is is an educated potential client is very helpful to everybody involved. Especially the client.
We can direct people into organizations to help that education process and again part of what we do as we try to educate, this is, we’re not trying to beat people with technology and just inundate them with all that stuff. We try to educate them as to what’s possible out there.
– [Albert] The proof is in the pudding. So when a company, I think what you’re asking is how do you recommend, there’s so much going on, right, technology-wise. So real use cases, real reference points, projects that you can point to and say this company actually did it at scale and it worked and they did what they wanted to do.
And I see it on IoT For All, Ryan. It’s a great resource. To see real case studies. That’s the only thing you can stand by. I mean, it’s great to have new chips coming out. It’s great to have new radios, stuff like that. But if it’s not well worn on the road with a customer, it’s very difficult for me and Pat who have to make project a success with a customer, it’s very difficult to stand by it. You want to say this has been proven.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I agree with you. What we’ve seen lately, this started early in the year and I’ve now mentioned it a few times on the podcast, but companies are really starting to transition from just focusing on talking about the technology and realizing that customers really want to see the successes that are happening.
They want to see the deployments. They want to understand how things are being used in the market. Not just how amazing the technology is being marketed as. A lot of times these customers don’t care, and I don’t mean that in a condescending, negative way, but just they’re so much more focused on the output and what is this thing going to do to solve the problems that I have?
Or how efficient is this going to improve my organization? What am I going to see from a cost or time saving standpoint? That companies are finding that in order to generate more business, they need to be focusing on the successes, focusing on the deployments, and using that as the forward facing thing.
And that’s what I think a lot of companies are finally starting to come around to. And I love the fact that’s happening in the industry. I think it’s going to be a big thing for the industry as a whole, as we continue to move forward. So, but I appreciate both of you, yeah, yeah, I’m, I think you all are doing that as well and that’s what we’re, we’ve always been about is trying to help increase adoption, and this is what I think now the industry is doing to really contribute to that, is showing that what IoT can really do in the real world. And that’s what’s exciting. The last thing I wanted to ask you is, is for our audience who wants to learn more, follow up, have any questions, anything exciting coming out from your all’s end, I’d love for you to shout that out now.
– [Albert] 27th of April, you’ll find a link on the website, we’re going to have a webinar to walk through a use case with a partner, Abeeway, and we can make it real for everybody. Anything else you know, it’s email@example.com, very easy, or firstname.lastname@example.org, and IoT For All has been great supporter of danalto and will be in promoting the webinar as well.
So you’ll find it on the IoT For All website.
– [Ryan] Well, thank you both, Pat, Albert, you’ve been fantastic guests. A lot of insights. Excited to get this out to our audience and hopefully we’ll do more content in the future. But thank you again for your time.
– [Patrick] All right. Thank you.
– [Albert] Thanks a lot.