Black & Veatch offshoot Atonix Digital is re-engineering the future of its parent company’s customer base, said Paul McRoberts.
Developed to offer software solutions to customers from Black & Veatch’s existing market sectors — power, water, and telecommunications — Atonix has the opportunity to move beyond its specific corporate origins to service other industries, said McRoberts, president of Overland Park-based data analytics firm, which operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Black & Veatch.
“With Atonix, we could end up getting into things like pharmaceuticals, and into other markets where Black & Veatch doesn’t naturally play today,” he said.
After the Atonix experiment, Black & Veatch could choose to build other subsidiaries as consultancies — in design, development or construction — to further service its clients and “change the entire outlook of what Black & Veatch looks like in the future,” he added.
Click here to learn more about Atonix.
Backed by Black & Veatch, Atonix operates with a startup mentality despite the “mature development environment” of the Overland Park-based engineering giant, he added.
“We’re not wet behind the ears,” said McRoberts, noting Atonix’s founding in January 2018.
Atonix saves its partners millions of dollars using predictive analytics based in artificial intelligence and machine learning-backed software, he said.
The company hit the ground running after its founding with five years’ worth of structure from Black & Veatch’s previous data work for customers, McRoberts explained, noting the corporate entity now provides Atonix with use of its 24/7 monitoring and diagnostics center.
“We also have a wealth of access to the marketplaces through Black & Veatch — they are, in fact, our biggest [value-added reseller],” said McRoberts. Other resellers will be needed once the Black & Veatch rubric no longer applies in industries like pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, he added.
“Atonix is not a call center within Black & Veatch,” he said. Though the corporate entity is currently Atonix’s sole funder, steps were made to ensure the relationship operates like any standard investment, McRoberts said.
Joining ranks with 14 other startups that comprise the Black & Veatch family, McRoberts initially had reservations about the possibility of being swallowed up by a corporate identity and becoming closed off, he admitted.
Click here to read about Black and Veatch’s first consumer product, Solarhood.
“Steve Edwards, the CEO [of Black & Veatch,] was the first one to turn around and say, ‘You are going to be treated differently and you are going to be looked at differently. If we’re getting in the way, you need to let us know so we can get out of your way,’” McRoberts added.
Atonix stakeholders endeavor to stay in touch with the startup community and maintain connections with local research facilities, said McRoberts, adding the company nearly doubled its size in 2018, aiming to bring in younger people with minds for modern math and software techniques.
“We are pushing the limits of predictive analytics to understand what’s going to happen in the future to then help companies know what the best thing to do is with their assets today,” he said.
Current efforts are centered on democratizing Atonix services to allow for smaller-scale customers, said McRoberts, noting competitors today seem to be “going after the largest of the large.”
“When you start moving down the street, you quickly go from having massive systems that cost millions of dollars to deploy, to people using Excel,” he said. “We’re looking to deliver for the larger facilities that want to deploy [our services] at an enterprise level, but also provide for small and medium size businesses.”
Though Atonix’s fate is tied to the strategy of Black & Veatch, an overarching vision for Atonix involves a future where understanding data and streamlining analytics helps businesses across the world, he added.
“We are geared toward solving this bigger problem around data and data analytics, really getting ahold of the economic value of assets, and what they bring to a company, and taking a whole different approach to what I call traditional operations, maintenance, and asset management,” said McRoberts.