Engineering our future

December 10, 2018

undefinedWhilst we often take time to think about our future from a personal perspective; either family, relationships, financial security or retirement, we very rarely consider the future of our industry and our work. If we stop to consider the significant transformations taking place in the world and how they may affect our lives, it becomes apparent that we must prioritise thinking about the future of our work and industry.

Those of us that already do this will often measure progress by comparing today to yesterday, and we therefore infer that tomorrow will be the same as today. This logic does not apply when we extrapolate years into the future. Since life first appeared on Earth evolution has always occurred exponentially, however technological evolution is not constrained by biological reproductive timeframes. The result is an ever-accelerating exponential rate of change leading us to an exciting, but uncertain future. 

The paradigms that form our industry have remained fundamentally unchanged for over a hundred years. There are many reasons why this is the case (procurement barriers, project mindset, industry lock-in, resistance to change, etc) but we must now use technology to break these barriers down. When we compare with the new paradigms that have evolved in, for example, telecommunications and the automotive industry it is apparent that our industry has much to do.

Artificial Intelligence, additive manufacturing (3D Printing), nanotechnology, modularisation, the ‘Internet Of Things’ and the new era of global connectivity and big data will, both collectively and (more importantly) ‘combinatorially’, transform our industry.

These technologies, leveraged by industry digitisation platforms such as BIM, will facilitate greater automation of both design and construction to the extent that whatever can be automated, will be automated. Adding value through automation in the long-term will become increasingly difficult so we must therefore use technology to enhance and augment collaboration and creativity in our professions to launch a new era of construction technology providing better performance from our build assets, surety of delivery and added value for society.

With 50% of the Forbes 500 disappearing since the year 2000 due to digital disruption it is quite clear that if we do not rise to the challenge then we risk losing the industry to new, cash-rich, fresh-thinking entrants who will not stop to ask our permission….

Return to Opinion