It’s quite ironic that with technologies like high-speed internet and cloud computing available today, many prominent industries still rely on some rather archaic, pen-and-paper systems.
Command Alkon Inc., a cloud-based construction software provider for contractors, project owners, materials suppliers and haulers, noticed some of the industry’s inefficiencies and took action, leveraging Rockset Inc.’s real-time analytics technology.
“When I started, the people told me that we were trying to come up with a platform,” said Doug Moore (pictured, right), vice president of cloud platforms at Command Alkon. “That there are 27 industries studied globally, and our industry is second to last in terms of automation, which meant that literally everything is still being done with paper — and a lot of paper.”
Given the sheer number and ramifications of the redundancies and inefficiencies in a crucial industry handling upwards of 330 million material deliveries yearly, the topic of automation and digitization became more a necessity than an option, according to Moore.
Moore and Venkat Venkataramani (pictured, left), co-founder and chief executive officer of Rockset, spoke with theCUBE industry analyst Lisa Martin during the AWS Startup Showcase: “Data as Code — The Future of Enterprise Data and Analytics” event, an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed the thriving partnership between Command Alkon and Rockset and the attempts leading up to that partnership. (* Disclosure below.)
How it all came to be
The American heavy materials and construction industry is incredibly complex. What turns out to be smooth asphalt roads, intricate dams and scenic bridges are a product of a delicate supply chain involving large quantities of raw materials, resources and people. Correspondingly, there’s also an equally important logistics process involving invoices, tickets and other delivery documents.
Command Alkon’s area of concentration is in the creation of software that spans the material quarries through to the development and delivery of these materials to the respective job sites. The company’s automation platform journey started with Amazon’s DynamoDB as it sought a fully managed, serverless offering and was more accustomed to Amazon compared to the alternatives.
“And what plays into the story … when I came here with no background in this industry, is that — and as with most of the other people on my team — we weren’t really sure what questions were going to be asked of the data,” Moore said.
The database was up and running, but there was still a nagging issue: how to process all that data, make sense of it, and use it to provide value to the end consumer.
How Rockset came into the equation
These days, it’s not enough to want to innovate; organizations have to invest in the infrastructure to make that innovation possible. It’s not just about simply disrupting through technology, but also doing it at a faster pace than ever before, according to Venkataramani.
Rockset studied the heavy industrial materials and logistics space, underlining the key sensitive areas in need of digital transformation through real-time reporting and analytics.
“And with all of those things, it’s not just being able to manage the data. But also being able to get reporting and analytics on that is an extremely important aspect of this,” Venkataramani said. “So this is like a combination of digital transformation happening in the cloud in real time and real-time analytics being in the forefront of it.“
Command Alkon’s partnership with Rockset allowed real-time access to crucial day-to-day information — which is more crucial in today’s pandemic-centered culture given the damage dealt to the global supply chain.
Given its already existing abilities, Command Alkon was able to launch an internal effort — deemed Project Lemonade — in response to the pandemic.
“Basically, there’s now a digital acceptance capability where the haulage driver can just stay in the vehicle and the foreman can be anywhere, look at the material, say it’s acceptable for delivery, and go from there,” Moore explained.
Command Alkon has seen tangible outcomes through its Rockset partnership.
“And, honestly, for the first time in my career, I can say that while we’ve always had to add people every time we add a certain number of customers, that has absolutely not been the case with this platform,” Moore stated.
Aside from the heavy materials industries, there are a plethora of other product and service niches that could benefit heavily from real-time analytics, according to Venkataramani, from fintech to e-learning platforms and biotech firms.
Stay tuned for the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS Startup Showcase: “Data as Code — The Future of Enterprise Data and Analytics” event.
(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the AWS Startup Showcase: “Data as Code — The Future of Enterprise Data and Analytics” event. Neither Rockset Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)