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