Welcome to our third installment of our Virtual Travel Series to celebrate Infrastructure Week! All week long, we’re spotlighting the incredible innovation and collaboration it takes to make critical transportation projects a reality. Today, we travel to Austin, Texas to meet CEO and Founder of Aurigo, Balaji Sreenivasan.
Aurigo is an American software company with the mission to help public sector agencies and facility owners plan, deliver, and maintain their capital projects and assets safely and efficiently. Their flagship software, Aurigo Masterworks Cloud, is behind the scenes of some of the largest and most-visible infrastructure and transportation projects in North America – used to plan and deliver over $300 billion of capital projects. Balaji shares more about his role as CEO, how software partnerships and integrations can transform infrastructure projects, and why he does not take technology for granted these days.
Tell us about your role as CEO of Aurigo. What’s your day to day like?
I am an early riser. I wake up by 5 am on most days as I like to start my day early and plan out what I need to accomplish personally and professionally. As CEO of a fast-growing mid-size construction tech company, my role is primarily focused on working with Aurigo’s senior executives strategizing around new markets, product roadmap, business partnerships, employee growth, and customer success. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some brilliant minds every day, and to be honest, I learn from them every day!
I love the industry we are in: Infrastructure.
Our nation’s infrastructure is often taken for granted, as not many people realize that the quality of our infrastructure drives our economic prosperity! I wake up every day trying to drive that passion throughout our organization.
Tell us more about your work partnering with Autodesk. Why has this been an exciting project to work on?
The Autodesk-Aurigo partnership is an exciting one and very important to me and the entire Aurigo team. As a mechanical engineer, I grew up learning AutoCAD. Entering into a strategic partnership with Autodesk and working together to create world-class solutions that help build the world is like coming full circle to me!
Autodesk is the world’s largest design software company and has a solid construction solution for design collaboration, bid management, and project delivery. Aurigo is a “born in the cloud” company that delivers AI and ML-powered software to streamline capital planning, project financials, and full-lifecycle construction management for infrastructure owners, helping them gain insights and make better decisions. The solutions that Autodesk and Aurigo provide are very complementary, and our partnership creates a very powerful and compelling value to owners and contractors looking to digitize their entire portfolio of programs gaining critical efficiencies. We just released the first of our integrations between Aurigo Masterworks and PlanGrid.
The reaction in the market has been overwhelming from owners and contractors alike. The tools they have today just don’t have the extensive capabilities of the Autodesk-Aurigo combination. With our first integration, We are solving a major gap between owners and contractors, now allowing them to collaborate, avoiding duplicate data entry fully, and increasing efficiencies across organizational boundaries. Future integrations will be even deeper and have the power to be truly disruptive for the infrastructure market.
How is Aurigo transforming infrastructure projects with technology?
Technology is part of our core DNA, culture, ingenuity of our people and partnerships. It is the backbone of the intellectual property we have created. As we look at the industry we serve, the amount of money being spent on infrastructure development is not in line with the investment in technology to help deliver these large-scale infrastructure projects. The world spends trillions of dollars annually building our roads, highways, airports, and urban Infrastructure. However, they are straddled with obsolete technology from the 90s to plan and deliver these projects.
Aurigo’s mission is to help our customers change the way the country builds its infrastructure.
We use technology not just to automate manual processes, but we really leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology to harness the vast amount of data for each of our customers. This gives our customers access to predictive analytics and insights they need to make accurate decisions that ultimately result in delivering their projects on time and realize up to 5% in savings. Customers have been quick to realize the benefits of a modern cloud platform such as ours and have been steadily moving away from several legacy systems and point solutions to a full-lifecycle platform such as Aurigo. This has seen Aurigo grow at a rate of over 60% YOY for the past 5 years. We are also seeing the need for design data and BIM to be integrated both upstream and downstream in the construction project lifecycle. As we further integrate Aurigo and Autodesk, we will continue to leverage model data in construction.
What makes working with public agency owners unique?
Public sector owners are unique in that their primary mission is to drive economic vitality in their cities, counties, states, or regions, improving the lives of their constituents with world class transportation, high performing utilities, higher quality of drinking water, well maintained parks and better sanitation. Public owners are also the largest spenders on infrastructure assets in periods of economic boom as well as a recession. So the public sector market is largely recession proof. Their biggest need is to get the best value out of each taxpayer dollar and provide public transparency on how and where their tax dollars are spent. To do that, public owners typically have more processes and controls in place to ensure they achieve these goals. This usually means a longer purchasing cycle, but also longer term contracts.
Aurigo Masterworks Cloud is purpose-built to help public owners evaluate projects for the best value, save taxpayer dollars, and provide the public with full transparency with their capital planning, construction and maintenance processes. Seeing our flagship software, Aurigo Masterworks Cloud, used to help public owners plan, build, maintain, and operate their capital assets in an intelligent manner to improve the lives of their citizens is the most rewarding aspect of what we do.
Aurigo Masterworks Cloud is currently in use on some of the largest and most-visible infrastructure projects in North America and is used to plan and deliver over $300 Billion of capital projects. Some of the high impact projects managed using our software include the Washington Park Reservoir in Portland, Oregon, the Downtown Access Project in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Highway 89 Expansion Project being executed by the Utah Department of Transportation to name a few.
What has your experience been like working on infrastructure software during COVID?
A significant part of Aurigo’s workforce was already enabled to work remotely. With COVID, Aurigo quickly extended those capabilities to all employees with no impact to our customers or operations. Our work is mission-critical to our customers, who provide essential services to their constituents. Some customers were more prepared than others, but everyone made the transition, and work has proceeded without any major glitches.
Most notably, the pandemic has accelerated the need for technology deployment for infrastructure owners and contractors alike. We are excited to be at the forefront of this wave. The major shift we have experienced is that usage of Aurigo Masterworks has increased substantially, with customers forced to work remotely. Collaboration through Masterworks has become absolutely critical for our customer’s success, regardless of the location of them working at from home, in the field or the office. Our tool is delivered in the cloud, and this has been a natural and seamless change in how our products have been able to step up to the “new normal.”
What is one essential thing that you would take with you on a road trip?
Besides my Microsoft Surface Book and my smartphone, my sneakers and AirPods are my essentials! Running is my outlet and allows me to block out everything I have going on and to recharge.
What’s one place you cannot wait to travel to once things get back to some normalcy?
There is a popular Chinese proverb that translates to “Don’t listen to what they say, go see it for yourself.” My family and I love traveling. We had a trip planned to the safari at Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya this summer with my family, and also to see my parents in India. We had to cancel both due to COVID. Instead, it’s been quality time with my family, hanging out at the pool, and spending some time becoming more self-aware. I have also started a two-year Owner-President Management (OPM) program at Harvard Business School, to hit reset and get back to learning and expanding. This entire COVID episode has taught all of humanity to be humble if anything. I have come to sincerely appreciate the little things in life we have, including access to technology!