Contech Startup Slate Exits Stealth Mode with AI SaaS Platform
Digital assistant uses AI and machine learning to improve construction professionals’ productivity and decision-making
Slate Technologies, a software company for the construction industry that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI), has come out of stealth mode with a SaaS platform that it describes as a digital assistant aimed at improving construction industry professionals’ productivity and decision-making.
Based in Pleasanton, Calif., the 18-month-old company claims its digital assistant works by analyzing internal and external data sources to better understand the building process, including sources such as ERP (enterprise Resource planning) systems, emails, RFIDs (radio frequency identification) and 3D models, along with public data such as weather, employment statistics and traffic.
Multinational construction company Skanska is an early client for Slate’s digital assistant, Slate said.
“I think our approach is very much focused on looking at outcomes, the value of change and the compound value of making decisions with better situational context earlier in any task,” said Richard Harpham, chief revenue officer of Slate. “The outcome is much like when you use a modern GPS system like Waze. You plan a journey, start that journey, and the moment you start driving your car, all the context just changed. If your systems and solutions can offer you an opportunity to make a course correction while in flight, as it were, that will lead you to a better outcome.”
Harpham said the platform will be usable in just about every aspect of construction, including planning.
“We’ve got folks on our team that come with a long litany of expertise, from machine learning, artificial intelligence, building platforms for the financial markets and different things like that — areas where you need earlier decision-making for predictability about what might or could happen versus what happened in the past,” said Jeff Bettencourt, CEO of Slate.
Funding for Slate is “from a small handful of investors that come from the construction industry,” Bettencourt said. “They [funded] us to get the initial early access product out in November of last year. This week, at the AGC, the Association of General Contractors, in Grapevine, Texas, is when we actually launch the first commercial version of the product.”
Globally, construction sector labor productivity growth averaged 1 percent a year over the past two decades, compared with 2.8 percent for the total world economy, and 3.6 percent for manufacturing, according to consultancy McKinsey.
By integrating and analyzing data from almost any location, Slate’s proprietary scheduling capabilities ensure changes can be immediately updated in an overall schedule, according to the startup.
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