#37 - Product Innovation: How AI can be used to augment engineers to solve a $1 Trillion infrastructure problem

An interview with Doug Hatler, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Fracta

Product innovationThis podcast is focused on product innovation in the water infrastructure sector, and my guest this week is Doug Hatler, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Fracta. Beyond sales and marketing Doug brings many years of experience as a management consultant, environmental regulatory specialist, and as a civil/environmental engineer. He is a published industry expert and featured speaker on the Environment, Sustainability, Compliance and Risk.

He earned a Bacherlor’s Degree in Environmental Science and an MBA from Rutgers University. He earned an Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

I got intrigued by the headline on Fracta’s website: Bringing Artificial Intelligence to infrastructure to solve a $1 trillion problem”. This is why invited Doug to my podcast. We explore the growing issue of aging water infrastructure and why a conventional approach is not going help. We discuss how technology such as AI is used to augment engineers, and how that human/machine combination brings exponential impact by preventing the waste of precious time, money, and water.

Here are a couple of quotes from him:

We are looking to digitally transform and revolutionize how the water industry is looking at water mains, looking at condition assessments.

Any asset is designed to work a number of years and then you may get some extra time out of it, but eventually, it has to be replaced. That’s what happening now.

The rough numbers are a million dollars a mile to replace a mile of pipe, so you’re looking at about a trillion dollars.

Some cities are ahead of it, some cities are behind. On average, most cities are somewhere between a quarter to a half a percent, maybe six-tenths of a percent so they’re pushing to get up.
The struggle they have is we have a very, very wide socioeconomic and demographic spectrum.

Anything you going to do is going to put pressure on the ratepayers to pay higher rates

We’re at a point where we can’t shy away from it.”

By listening to this interview, you will learn three things:

  1. That you should always keep challenging your approach – your initial idea might be the most obvious, but looking at the desired outcome in different ways might give you better routes to success – if so, be ready to pivot.
  2. Why it is important to always keep looking around you for alternative market you could deliver value – there might one that’s easier to enter and own right in front of you
  3. How one of the largest roadblock to get a solution market can be inertia – especially in industries that have been working in a similar way for decades


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.