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Embrace Digital Disruption

Javier Baldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
The Internet of Things (IoT) is probably the most important technology trend affecting businesses today. But, how did it come about? And more importantly, what can you do about it? HOW DID WE GET HERE? As I touched on in my last post, IoT presents a tremendous opportunity for engineering consultancies. But, what is driving its momentum? A number of significant technology changes and enablers have come together to give rise to this trend. Cloud Computing. The Global Cloud Computing market is expected to skyrocket over the next four years, from $40.7 billion USD in 2011 to $241 billion USD in 2020 (Forrester). This Cloud movement, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, is being fueled by rapidly falling processing costs and increasing cloud accessibility. Declining Technology Costs. Sensors – used in IoT technology to identify, locate, and evaluate items – are decreasing in price. The cost of sensors went from $1.30 USD to just $0.60 USD over the past 10 years (Goldman Sachs). What’s more, the cost of bandwidth is down by a factor of 40 times over the past 10 years. (Goldman Sachs). Smartphone Usage. Smartphones are a key player in IoT, serving as a personal gateway to this technology. In 2009, less than 1% of global internet traffic came from mobile devices. As of August 2016, mobile internet traffic soared to an impressive 46% of total internet traffic worldwide (StatCounter Global Stats). That’s an increase of over 5000%! Expanding Wireless Coverage. The development of faster, higher bandwidth and more intelligent networks is leading to an explosion in mobile technology adoption. By 2020, nearly 60% of mobile devices and connections will have 4G capability in North America, according to Cisco. Western Europe is just behind North America, with a ratio of 53% of 4G connections by 2020. WHAT WILL THE IOT ECONOMY CREATE? With billions of new mobile devices and connections being introduced each year, we are already seeing an influx in both personal and business data. Imagine this: five billion gigabytes (GB) of data were created from the beginning of time to 2003. That sounds like a lot of data, right? Well, that same amount of data was created every two days in 2011. And by 2013, it took only 10 minutes. (Big Data, Small World). This phenomenon, commonly known as Big Data, presents a challenge to traditional data processing applications, that will likely have difficulty processing data so large and complex. In order to sustain the amount of data a firm may produce, processing applications and technologies will need to be re-evaluated, or new ones created. And with the proliferation of devices connected to the internet comes security vulnerabilities. More connected devices mean more attack vectors and possibilities for hackers to target infrastructure and our personal information (Ben Dickson Crunch Network). Firms will need to evaluate their current security protocols to insure they are shielded from such cyberattacks. WHAT NOW? It’s clear to see – a new digital economy is upon us and ready to disrupt the engineering industry as we know it today. This hotbed of opportunity will invite new competitors from outside the traditional architecture and engineering industry to enter our world, bringing unparalleled competence in the Cloud, Big Data, Security, and IoT. Imagine powerhouses like Google, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, or Apple marrying their technological expertise with the infrastructure prowess of traditional engineering consultancies to reshape our cities and infrastructure. There is a bold future ahead of us, and the impact of these changes will be far-reaching and profound. Ask yourself: what can you do to begin preparing for this transformative digital economy? What technology skill sets can you leverage, acquire, or partner with to position your consultancy for an IoT economy? It’s time to seize the opportunity. Author’s Notes: This is the fourth post in a series on major trends affecting the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry. A version of this post titled "Digitale Disruptie" appeared in Dutch in a Witteveen+Bos publication.

The Future of Architecture and Engineering: A Q&A with FRI Managing Director Henrik Garver

Henrik Garver
Managing Director
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 environmental consultancies. Over the next few months, follow along with us as industry leaders share their thoughts. In this post we spoke to Henrik Garver, managing director of the Danish Association of Consulting Engineers (FRI) based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. Henrik specializes in market development for the building, infrastructure, energy, and environmental engineering segments. He has unique insight into the AEC industry, digital technology, global competition, and international business.   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: Building Information Modeling (BIM) and digital technologies will, with the power and capacity that is provided through cloud computing and more powerful computers and servers, become a game changer for the industry over the next five years. Digital technology will force the AEC industry to rethink what services they provide clients and how these services are best created.   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: There is an increase in M&A-activity, as the firms need the ability to provide top-of-the-range services to more clients and in more locations. At the same time there is an increasing role in becoming the trusted advisor to a larger number of clients, as investors and financiers also need to evaluate the technical feasibility of projects. The AEC firms should focus on their core skills in order to remain best-in-class. At the same time they should start targeting new client segments, for whom the technical assistance provided by AEC firms has a significant value, in their assessment of project risks.   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: From our analysis of the industry, we saw a significant reduction in backlog by mid-2007. But the AEC industry did not react to this decline, as there was significant shortage of staff at the same time. An early reaction, based on the data available in the market, would have given companies a full year of preparations, prior to the crisis. As an association, we are focusing even more on the data that we can provide to member firms, in order for them to get a better position in the market.   Q: What is the biggest challenge you are currently tackling within your firm or association? A: How to position the entire AEC industry as the key player in BIM and the use of digital technologies.   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 the entire IT-infrastructure to be cloud-based. This enables office staff to work from anywhere in the world – and still collaborate on documents in real-time. As a result, it is possible to improve the work/life balance for FRI-staff.   This post is part of a question and answer series with global industry leaders on the future of the architecture, engineering, and environmental consultancies.

Technology Deep Dive: Cloud Computing

Javier Baldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
There is no denying it – our world is changing rapidly. Each day, new technological, societal, and economic developments are transforming the way business is conducted across the globe. And the relentless question weighing on business leaders’ minds worldwide is: “Am I ready?” To help you prepare for this shift, we’re launching a series of blog posts exploring major technology trends, based on findings from technology companies like IBM and Microsoft, business information and analytics providers like IHS, and private equity firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). Over the next few weeks, follow along with us as we take a deep dive into how these emerging technological advances will affect your firm both today and in the not-so-distant future.   Trend One: Cloud Computing Our first technology trend is by no means new. By now, you have likely heard of cloud computing. And if you’re not already using it in your daily business life, you’re almost certainly using it in your personal life. Do you have an online banking, Facebook, or email account? Then, you have experienced the cloud. Put simply, cloud computing allows you to store and access data and programs over the Internet instead of on your personal computer. With one application, users can log in and access all the programs they need in the cloud – anything from file sharing databases to word processing systems to project management software. The recent rise of this technology in the business world is staggering. This year alone, IHS projects that global business spending on cloud-related technology will reach an estimated $174.2 billion. Three years ago, that figure was nearly $100 billion less at $78.2 billion. And by 2017, spending on enterprise cloud computing will soar to a projected $253.1 billion. That’s a 200% increase in just seven years. So, what is driving this wave to the cloud? A number of factors, according to KPCB's 2014 Internet Trends Report, including: The rise of computational power at the core of digital infrastructure triggered by a 33% decline in global computing costs annually since 1990. Richer digital information sparked by a 38% decline in global storage costs annually since 1992. Faster collection and transfer of data due to a 27% decline in global bandwidth costs annually since 1999. The increasing pervasiveness of smartphones caused by a 5% decline in global smartphone prices annually since 2008. The advantages of adoption within your organization are extensive. For starters: cutting costs, driving efficiency, scalability, and accessibility, just to name a few. What’s more, organizations with high cloud adoption reported almost double the revenue growth of their peer companies that were cautious about cloud computing, according to an IBM survey of more than 800 international business leaders. And the applications for the technology go beyond storage and security. The cloud adopters surveyed by IBM reported using the technology as a differentiator to support data-driven decision-making, reinvent customer relationships, and leverage companywide expertise. Nonetheless, when considering cloud solutions, it is imperative to look beyond the benefits of the technology and understand the risks and challenges of implementation. A recent survey by KPMG explored the obstacles businesses faced during the cloud adoption process. Among the top challenges cited were: Implementation costs too high Integration with existing architecture Data loss and privacy risks Loss of control Lack of visibility into future demands and associated costs To combat these challenges, we are seeing the emergence of industry best practices as cloud computing becomes more commonplace within the business world. In a recent Microsoft-released survey, more than 2,000 global business executives were asked by 451 Research to share best practices for driving a successful cloud computing project. The top-ranked best practices included: Have a well-defined architecture for security. Understand who the end-users are. Train users to be cautious with access and security. Have a well-defined architecture for performance. Have a phased approach starting with pilot testing. Has your company implemented cloud computing technologies? If so, share some of your cloud-related best practices in a comment below! Author’s Note: This is the first article in a five-post series on technology trends affecting the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry.

Our Digital Future

Javier Baldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
BST Global Executive Vice President Javier A. Baldor shares five mega technology trends that will re-shape the way consultancies do business. Our world is facing unprecedented technological, societal, and economic changes. How can your organization prepare to prosper in this evolving climate? In this presentation, BST Global Executive Vice President Javier Baldor gives you a look into five mega technology trends that will re-shape the way you do business in the future. Learn about the latest available findings from the world’s leading IT research firms such as Gartner, Forrester and IDC, leading technology companies like Google and Cisco, and also private equity organizations like Goldman Sachs and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.