Posted: October 15, 2020
By: Santiago Gomez
Digital transformation is reinventing how businesses operate, how processes and systems fit together, and how people interact with each other. We are watching as new technologies emerge and blend into society, becoming a regular part of daily life for individuals and an essential business tool.
Children in this generation are growing up native to a digital world and its technology. They do not need to transform. Yet, for some people in previous generations, this new tech is difficult to understand and use. Some people don’t want to understand and use it, and that is okay. However, they would require a digital transformation to access the same information everyone else can.
For business, digital transformation is a necessity. Telecommunications, data analytics, machine learning, robotics, and other technologies are becoming integrated into today’s business processes. It will permeate all industries and all fields of study, resulting in exponential growth in human productivity. These technologies will develop and become mainstream much faster than past technologies have, and they will change the world.
Without digital transformation, a business cannot compete. Individuals can opt-out if they want to, but for businesses, it is necessary to succeed. For legacy organizations that did not grow in the digital age, failing to transform can be devastating to their business.
Many think that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the future of how we work by five years. Ways of working that people thought were impractical became necessary, and they worked. Those who have proclaimed that these technologies are the future have been proven right. Before COVID, the status quo and change inertia delayed adoption.
This pandemic has taught us to pay close attention to futurists and their predictions – although the timing is always the greatest unknown.
Digital transformation has and will continue to impact all sectors, and the engineering industry has benefited from it. Technology has changed and will continue to change how we deliver projects, how many design options can be presented, and how we improve system efficiency. Technology like machine learning will allow us to learn from previous performance data for building projects and find optimal solutions that would have taken humans years of calculations to develop.
Think about it this way. The first computer program that beat the best human chess player in a game took ten years to develop. Once it defeated its flesh-and-blood opponent, no other human alive was able to beat the computer. For the engineering sector, replace that human chess player with an engineer. When engineering software is able to incorporate vast amounts of input, sensor, and performance data into an iterative design process, no human engineer will be able to create a more optimal design. Simply put, engineering companies that resist digital transformation will get left behind.
Only large companies or governments could afford to invest in, deploy, and benefit from advanced technologies in the past. Now, small companies and individuals can own and use these technologies. This accessibility breaks up monopolies of service providers and will make it easier for new inventions and innovations in the marketplace. Advanced technology is becoming more accessible to everyone.
In architecture, engineering, and construction, this means a whole new ecosystem of options that were not available before. As leaders and visionaries of our industry, our challenge is to use that technology to improve the industry, produce value for our customers and the world, and make a difference.
As consumers, we use digital technology in our homes, families, and personal lives. We have many options for smart devices, streaming services, internet, GPS, and other technologies. It is typical for people to expect the same engaging and compelling technological and digital experiences when working with an engineering firm.
Clients come to us because they have an idea they want to develop or a problem they need to solve. Our goal is to leverage technology to create a customer experience that, on one end, draws them into a fluid process where their idea is realized, and their problems are solved, and at the other end, leaves them with the experience of success. With professionals at the helm, digital platforms and machine learning models can deliver rewarding experiences for customers.
If we can use digital transformation to better achieve our purpose: to brighten the lives of people in our communities by engineering sustainable cities that are safe, inclusive and resilient, then we have succeeded.
It is not about change for the sake of change. We want to leave the construction industry for the next generation which is ten times better than it currently is. Smart cities and buildings that consume fewer resources and less energy. It is progress for human beings and for the planet that makes this transformation worthwhile.