The Future of Architecture and Engineering: A Q&A with SKOL Managing Director Matti Mannonen
In an industry centered around innovation, the question always remains – what’s next?
To help answer this, we’ve launched a series of blog posts exploring the past, present, and future trends in architecture, engineering, and construction consultancies. Over the next few months, follow along with us as industry leaders share their thoughts.
In this post we spoke to Matti Mannonen, Managing Director of the Association of Finnish Consulting (SKOL) and Director of the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries based in Helsinki, Finland. Matti has over 30 years of international experience in consulting management. He specializes in sustainable development, transportation planning, and the construction of water and energy systems. He holds a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from the Helsinki University of Technology.
Q: What do you think is the most significant trend that will impact the future of the AEC industry in your region over the next 5 years?
A: The AEC industry will become fully global. There will be new competitors, but also more work. Sustainability will become a determining factor in all industries.
Q: How do you see the current role of AEC firms shifting, what do you think is causing that shift, and how must AEC firms react to survive?
A: Under a new competitive model, we can only survive by providing the best value to clients. We must also be able to demonstrate value to our clients. This will come in the form of innovative solutions, cost-efficient sourcing and networks, co-creation with clients and stakeholders, turn key services, digitalization, alliance formation, and risk sharing.
Q: Knowing what you know today, are there things you would or could have done differently to prepare for or react to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008? Are there things that you are doing differently now because of the GFC? How have you evolved your processes or policies post-GFC?
A: 2008 was a paradigm shift. Until then, you always had good markets somewhere. In 2009, every market was experiencing a recession, so being in many markets did not help. Companies must be more agile than before and be prepared for continuous uncertainty. Outsourcing and flexible agreements should be used as a buffer. As the life cycle of products and services gets shorter and shorter, renewal in companies must be constant.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you are currently tackling within your firm or association?
A: In Finland, we are fighting for good procurement practices. This will occur through better information capture and an improvement in the quality of the resources and skills of procurement units and individuals. We want members to take a holistic view of projects that looks at life cycle costs and sustainability.
Q: How has your office environment changed, and how is your firm continuing to evolve your workplace environment, procedures, and technologies, to accommodate the evolving demands of the incoming millennial workforce? What considerations and changes are you making regarding collaboration, efficiencies, work/life balance, technologies, etc.?
A: We have shifted to a multi-space, flexible office with all of our IT in the cloud. All employees have the choice to work wherever they like--at home, in a cafeteria, or on the beach. We work very collaboratively. Informal information flows are fast and efficient and the atmosphere is good. We also have a retention officer who is in charge of the continuous development of skills and practices.
This post is part of a question and answer series with global industry leaders on the future of the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industries.