ALM Intelligence: Q&A with Tego’s LaVerne Cerfolio

ALM Intelligence’s Nathan Simon recently sat down with the LaVerne Cerfolio, VP of Marketing for Tego, an asset intelligence SaaS solution provider, to discuss the Internet of Things (IoT) and how consultancies can help their clients capitalize on the opportunity.

ALM Intelligence:  Can you describe Tego’s products and services?

Cerfolio:  Tego’s products and services consist of an integrated platform of chips, tags, and software for embedding data on physical assets where they can be analyzed and managed at the edge. Any sort of data from spreadsheets to images can be placed on the chips, and the chips can be used both for reading and writing data. There is also an option to plug sensors into the chips to allow for combined operating and contextual data storage on the asset.

ALM Intelligence:  Vendors and consultants have been talking for years now about the promise of IoT, but we’ve seen relatively few examples of impact beyond pilots. How has Tego helped clients achieve impact?

Cerfolio:  Tego got its start in the aerospace industry, where we saw a need for digital part traceability starting with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) through to the commercial airframers, Airbus and Boeing, and then to airlines and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) providers. The solution digitally tracks the entire lifecycle of airplane parts to ensure availability and compliance with maintenance and FAA regulations. Some of these assets like inflatable life vests are relatively inexpensive to purchase, but their total cost of ownership can swell by up to a factor of 300 over their lifetimes once manual processes like inspection and maintenance costs are accounted for. The challenges airlines faced were two-fold. On the one hand, they needed a way to obtain data in an environment in which connectivity is unreliable and data latency unacceptable. On the other, they needed a complete record of an asset’s life not just a snapshot of its current state. Because airplanes have a thirty-year lifecycle and a global supply chain, an edge solution that provides lifecycle data on the asset itself enables data sharing and data interoperability across multiple parties. Tego’s innovation was to maintain lifecycle data on the asset itself rather than in a remote, centralized location. This resolved both the accessibility and cross-party challenges, but it required Tego to first develop an open industry standard as a basis for coordinating the myriad parties that would need to be involved. 

ALM Intelligence:  One of the challenges of IoT is making sense of the volume of data. How has Tego helped its customers to take action?

Cerfolio:  There’s an important distinction between a sensor and a chip. Sensors collect operating data, analogous to the vital signs your doctor checks. Chips, on the other hand, collect primarily contextual data, analogous to your medical record and important life experiences. The fundamental limitation with sensor data is that they are decontextualized, which makes them hard to interpret. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the supplier, assembler, user, and maintainer were all the same entity, but frequently this is not the case. The airliner, hospital, or retailer only knows a small portion of a particular asset’s contextual data: essentially only what happened to that asset while it was under their control. In a perfect world, suppliers, assemblers, and users would all share their back-end data, but both the technology infrastructure and will necessary for such sharing are lacking. Capturing contextual data on the asset overcomes this barrier by building in data sharing. Companies can develop their own apps on Tego’s platform to read and manipulate those data; this is implicitly a conscious development process driven by a use-case for those data. The combination of contextual data and user-directed access results in real outcomes, not data collection.

ALM Intelligence:  How is Tego working with consultants?

Cerfolio:  While Tego got its start in the aerospace industry vertical, as we discover new applications for our IoT platform we are increasingly targeting our offering horizontally across industries. There’s a natural synergy in this with management consultants who have expertise across verticals and insight into the potential use cases for asset-based data.