Takru explains the inspiration that led to the conception of KloudGin, covers various solutions in the company’s portfolio, and gives real life examples of utility pain points and solutions.
UMC: How did the concept of KloudGin come about? What are the origins of the company’s name?
Vikram Takru: The concept of KloudGin emerged when my refrigerator broke down in the middle of a boiling hot, Bay Area summer. In hopes of quickly finding a replacement, my family and I ventured to a big box retail store to order an in-stock refrigerator. After driving and arriving at the store, an unexpected turn took place in our presumably well-constructed plan - although the store did in fact have the product in stock and I had my credit card handy, it turned out that the scheduling software was archaic and user interfaces were hard to use. As the customer, my experience involved waiting for 5-6 days before I could have my fridge delivered to me at my home, getting an automated call the night before the delivery date at 9pm with a 12pm – 6pm window of delivery. To describe my customer experience in one word, it was “horrific.”
Soon, I realized that there was a massive problem across multiple verticals with how terrible customer experience was being delivered, including huge inefficiencies in scheduling optimization. This problem stuck with me and propelled our founders to set KloudGin on a path to leverage big data, machine learning, and predictive analytics technology to give optimized schedules with 15-30 minute windows. All this, coupled with KloudGin’s core mission: to design software that is beautiful, easy to use, and can be deployed rapidly in the cloud.
The founders were building next generation cloud-based predictive, scheduling, analytics, visualization engines (“Gin”). Additionally, as all Cloud domain names were taken, the founders had to settle for Cloud with a “K” and thus “Kloud + Gin” = “KloudGin” was coined.
UMC: How is KloudGin different from other solutions?
Takru: KloudGin is designed for incredible user experience, easy configuration, and performance across all platforms. Configured based on years of hands-on field testing with real world field crews, KloudGin’s rugged Mobile User Interfaces are designed for ease-of-use considering mobile workers who have little or no technology exposure with Intelligent Offline technology.
KloudGin is built on its own independent, configurable cloud platform that leverages modern technologies like Big Data, Mobility, Machine Learning, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Internet of Things (response to sensor signals), and Process Automation. This enables incredible user experience and performance.
The scheduling engine has been designed from the ground up using big data, the ability to schedule in advance, and machine learning algorithms to deliver an unfailingly accurate work route schedule, which adjusts based on the crew’s current status. Scheduling can be done based on past data and not estimated standards, taking into consideration traffic times, crew skills, habits, work site anomalies, and work priorities.
KloudGin software comes with an integration engine and dozens of out-of-the-box adaptors like CC&B, ESRI, etc., that enable you to connect everyone on premise and cloud systems seamlessly.
KloudGin captures and stores all data (structured & un-structured) and digital interactions between mobile field crews, customers, back office/dispatch, vendors, contractors, fleets, assets, inventory, work orders, traffic, sensors, plan simulations, and more. It then processes these millions of interactions using edge & cloud computing to serve AI to the right person at the exact time and place where it is needed. Businesses can leverage all this data to increase revenue, operational efficiency, safety, and provide an incredibly personalized customer experience. ”Autopilot mode” allows for 24/7 operations, leveraging machine learning in absence of dispatchers during after-hours operations.
UMC: What products and functionality does KloudGin offer for utility customers?
- KloudGin Intelligent Workforce & Asset Cloud designed for Water, Gas, Electric, Refuse, and Solar
- KloudGin Global Inventory Management Cloud
- KloudGin Connected Customer APP
- KloudGin Sub-Contractor Management APP
- KloudGin Virtual Artificial Intelligence (AI) Assistant
- KloudGin Native Mobile Application and BI Platform
UMC: We looked at the term on your website “Single Face of All Work”. Can you explain that?
Takru: “Single Face of All Work” was coined by an executive of one of our Utility customers. That phrase has stuck with us since, as it explains what KloudGin offers.
What it means is for all Field Operations, whether it is short-cycle from any CIS, long cycle work from WAM, water quality samples from LIMS, or reactive maintenance (Leak repairs, etc.), all types of field work is optimized by the KloudGin scheduling engine and different types of work orders are executed on a Unified Native Mobile User Interface. This means that as worker switches jobs, he or she will only have one User Interface across all jobs. This is a huge benefit in Field Operations, as user adoption is a massive problem.
UMC: How is KloudGin Mobile and Offline technology different from others?
Takru: KloudGin’s mobile platform is built using native mobile technology, which provides incredible user experience, fast app performance, offline, and security. “Single Native APP” technology is for all Business processes (Analytics, Transactions, Multimedia, Device features, Collaboration, and Offline). It eliminates native mobile coding and enterprises never have to worry about new mobile OS upgrades or new devices. In addition, intelligent encrypted offline mode is designed to automatically adjust when field crews lose connectivity.
UMC: In 2015, 225,000 Ukrainian electricity customers lost power due to hackers. What propriety level should cyber security technology be placed among the changes currently being implemented in the utility industry?
Takru: Cyber security is extremely important, especially now with threats linked to state actors. I believe that modernizing to cloud and next generation AI-based security models will be key. For instance, KloudGin is embedding artificial intelligence based patterns in every layer of its stack to detect behavioral anomalies within its own applications.
UMC: Can you describe how KloudGin brings a digital transformation to field crews with mobile, CSRs with Artificial Intelligence, and managers with analytics tools?
Takru: KloudGin captures and stores all data and digital interactions between mobile field crews, customers, dispatch, partners, vendors, contractors, fleets, assets, inventory, work orders, traffic, routes, service points, sensors, and more. It seeds industry-based out-of-the-box models to enable best practices, even when digital history doesn’t exist. It then processes these millions of interactions using edge & cloud computing to serve AI to the right person at the exact time and place where it’s needed. KloudGin platform comes integrated with AI and Natural Language Processing adapts to speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. Now, with KloudGin, customers can have unique intelligent voice experiences based on roles like field crew, dispatchers, supervisors, and executives.
Here’s an example:
There is a GenSet which is not operating properly at a Utility Pump Station. There was a power outage in the middle of the night, but the voltage output was significantly lower than required. There was no low pressure alarm, but the voltage sensors at the pump station are monitored by KloudGin AI, which allows Kloudgin to:
- Alert the staff of the issue – which may have been missed since there was no low pressure.
- Automatically create an Investigation Work Order and schedule to an available crew with the correct skills and equipment to respond.
In this example, your office staff will be notified of the issue, but they won’t be scrambling to create a work order or to find a crew to respond.
An example of KloudGin A.I. use in the hands of a Field Crew is the ability to use image recognition which calls pre-trained AI models. With Kloudgin’s Image Recognition, the crew can take a picture of the Genset and Kloudgin’s A.I. figures out the model number by image matching and
- Provides the model number
- For the model number, it provides: the User Manual, Sub-Assemblies, Common troubleshooting steps from the manufacturer and inventory on hand for this Asset.
Real-time Executive Analytics is pre-built on a configurable big data based KloudGin BI platform which provides real-time visibility, alerts, and provide unique experiences designed for mobile devices in a more intuitive way using voice.
UMC: We see you have Calwater as a client? Can you tell us where they are using KloudGin and the improvements they are seeing?
Takru: California Water Service (Cal Water) is the largest investor-owned American water utility west of the Mississippi River, and the third largest in the country. Cal Water serves approximately 2 million people in California, Hawaii, Washington, and New Mexico, and provides water and wastewater services. They complete over 200,000 work orders annually to provide timely customer service (e.g. leak repair), collect water quality samples, and maintain approximately $1.6 billion in company assets.
Calwater uses following KloudGin products:
- KloudGin Intelligent Field Service & Asset Cloud for single scheduling engine & unified Mobile interface for all types of field work
- KloudGin Native Mobile Application Development Platform to have single Native Mobile APP for all business processes example: Time Card generation, Time Card Approvals, Alerts, SCADA Asset Data capture, H: Drive Document viewer, GIS based Digital Mobile workflows for processes like Valve Exercising, and Fire Flow tests.
- KloudGin Business Intelligence Cloud which provides analytic dashboards connecting to various systems like PeopleSoft HR, Payroll, Financials, PowerPlan, Oracle CC&B, Intertel, Maximo, KloudGin Field Service, and Asset Cloud
There were several key benefits to using KloudGin. For example, as a result of implementing KloudGin Intelligent Field Service & Asset Cloud, Cal water customer appointment
on-time arrival rates have increased from 95 percent to 96 percent, despite a 26 percent increase in the number of appointments. Additionally, field staff have completed 21.3 percent more work orders, equating to a shorter customer wait time.
KloudGin’s ease of use has played a big part in this increased efficiency, allowing single sign on capability integrated with active directory, seamless offline capabilities (making the system usable without cell reception), integrations with payroll, inventory, vehicle mileage reporting systems, and access to plat maps and as-built drawings via ESRI/GIS integration from mobile devices which prevent the field crew from returning to the office multiple times a day. The smart dispatching and routing services also integrate with Google Maps and other big data technologies, making field service work faster and with greater efficiency by giving turn-by-turn directions and rescheduling work based on current traffic conditions.
Finally, having a usage based cost model is helpful; lowering overhead for network and system administration while also eliminating patching or costly software and hardware upgrades.
In addition, Cal water is boosting User Adoption by eliminating multiple Mobile APPs and logins for different applications by standardizing on the KloudGin Mobile Platform. The Single Native APP is going to handle all field operation business processes, thus eliminating the need to build and maintain Custom APPs.
UMC: In your opinion, what is the “next big thing” with regard to technology and the utilities industry?
Takru: There are a lot of pressure points on utilities, from global climate change forcing efficient and sustainable thinking, increased pressure to reduce costs for consumers, demand for better customer experience, and the need to introduce automation to business processes. This is a perfect storm for the Utilities industry to move to the cloud, leverage Artificial Intelligence to increase safety optimization, and launch different revenue models in a climate where revenue bases are changing.