A New Decade of Innovation: What the Next 10 Years Holds for the Built Environment

Posted by Deltek on June 9, 2020

Over the past ten years, technology has dramatically altered how construction and engineering businesses operate and how projects are delivered. There has been a step change in the use of technology. The adoption and use of technology will undoubtedly continue to increase. What can we expect from this new decade? What are the trends and innovations we will look back on in 2030?

In our recent webinar, hosted in association with New Civil Engineer, our panel of industry experts discussed the impact of digital transformation in the industry. The panel also shared future changes to expect as we move through the current decade and how to get the most benefit from the latest digital revolution.

Architects Using Digital Tablet

What changes in technology have we seen over the last ten years?

Kate Young, Innovation and Asset Manager for Team2100 highlighted, “It’s difficult to imagine yourself five years ago, let alone ten. All of your work onsite was on paper. You had to return to the office to check emails and big files were only available on one desktop or hard drive. Working on a single document across the organisation was a challenge as you may not have been working on the latest information or version.” Kate continued, “Now we are using technology to actively collaborate and work on documents at the same time.”

Nick Nieder, Product Management Director at Deltek agreed, “You would turn up onsite, see the fax machine and a wall of filing cabinets with key documents in them. For me, the past ten years have been about the collaboration journey. From converting to email, then thinking about how to handle that information centrally, how to centralise systems, and the adoption of technology solutions to empower joined up working.”

What have we learned from the past ten years?

According to Maria Mamoura, Director of Bryden Wood, “Not everything is about technology, it’s also about behaviour and how we react with technology. We should understand technology and how we can use it in our daily lives”.

Nieder added, “We learned that you need to start by truly understanding your challenges. Once you have this knowledge, you consider how digital can support re-engaging, re-engineering, and reinventing to help you overcome those challenges.  More importantly, you have to take your culture, your business, and your people with you, because technology on its own will not resolve issues.”

 

"You have to take your culture, your business, and your people with you, because technology on its own will not resolve issues."

 

How have you embraced new technology over the past ten years?

Nieder suggested, “It's all about the journey. And if we talk about digital transformation, there is definitely an argument that you start by starting. For example, we’ve seen the digital camera going to sites to capture information, but all the secondary activities that accompany that information once you bring it back to the office have been very onerous.”

Nieder continued, “Some companies have managed this well, with good systems in place to enable data and integration. Getting cohesion and consistency across organisations as well as the wider project community, is still a challenge. In some respects, that’s one of the things that's held us back. We’ve had projects that attempted to do smart things in smart ways, but without the larger social buy-in and participation.”

Young believes, “It's really about bringing you closer to your customer and your end-user. We need to change not just for our own efficiency but to stay relevant and to be resilient as a business rather than just build resilient solutions. There are many benefits for our long-term projects to accelerate these changes and to build those relationships. It’s an opportunity to try new things that we can feed out to the smaller projects. It’s been a fantastic mechanism for bringing our efforts to a much wider audience and make those relationships available on the global scale.”

What is your vision for how the construction industry will use technology in 2030?

“We need to stop seeing projects as having a start and a finish. We need to change the mentality to see things in their whole life. It needs to become common practice so that we can understand the “why” of the data that we need to collect, the outcomes that we want to deliver, and the flexibilities that we need over the program.” said Young.

 

"We need to stop seeing projects as having a start and a finish. We need to change the mentality to see things in their whole life"

 

“We need to encourage people from more diverse backgrounds and experiences to join our programs, and highlight the importance of a diverse workforce. For example, we have teams working on our TransPennine upgrade project using powerful BI tools. This technology and data is as easy to them use and understand as excel would be to us. Showing people the power of data and analysis within their day-to-day activities is important. The emphasis is not just on collecting data for collection-sake, but truly leveraging it to support our business objectives now and for years to come.” Kate added.

“We need to really move to talking about what we do with technology rather than the technology itself and understand what we want to deliver with it” confirmed Alain.

Nieder agreed, “It's really important that we prioritise technology and consider it from the perspective of purposeful innovation. Are we innovating for innovation’s sake? Or are we innovating to drive business results and client satisfaction.”

 

"It's really important that we prioritise technology and consider technology from the perspective of purposeful innovation"

 

As we heard from our Construction Industry experts, digital technology is transforming construction practices but there is still some way to go. The next ten years will continue to bring changes as digital solutions come together to fully enable the industry. Hear the full panel discussion by listening on-demand.


 

[WEBINAR]


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