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Embrace Digital Disruption

Javier Baldor
JavierBaldor
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.

What’s Next? Seizing Opportunities in a Digital Economy

Javier Baldor
JavierBaldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
Imagine, for a moment, life without personal computers. We have become so accustomed to instant access to news and information, that the loss of it would completely transform our way of life. In today’s technology-driven society, that’s a difficult thing to picture. But a world without personal computers is exactly what the former leader of a major mainframe computer manufacturer predicted in 1977. Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), once argued against the PC, stating: “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Today in hindsight, this prediction seems almost comical. But at the time, this prediction meant major trouble for a company that hesitated to adapt to a rapidly changing world. What is it about change that is often so apparent and accepted by some, but unseen or considered threatening to others? Fear of the unknown, laser focus on the present, and lack of foresight can all cause aversion to change. But, just as computer giant DEC faced disruption in the 1970s, we too face another crossroads – with a technological disruption that will reshape our industry unlike anything else before. In this post and my next, follow along as I take a deep dive into what this technological disruption means for the architecture and engineering industry. WHAT IS THIS CHANGE? Of all the technology trends that are taking place right now, perhaps the biggest one is the Internet of Things (IoT). Simply put, IoT connects devices such as everyday consumer objects and industrial equipment to the network or internet, enabling information gathering and management of these devices via software. IoT is the one trend that is going to give us the most disruption, as well as the most opportunity over the next decade. Why do I say this? According to Cisco, 50 billion things will be connected to the internet by 2020. Fast forward just five more years, and that number jumps to 1 trillion connected devices by 2025 (McKinsey Global Institute). That same year, McKinsey also predicts that IoT will generate up to $11.1 trillion USD a year in economic value. In short, it will become the largest technology market ever. According to Goldman Sachs, there are five key verticals of IoT adoption: Connected Wearable Devices: Fitness Bands, Smart Watches and Glasses Connected Cars Connected Homes: Smart Thermostats, Appliances, and Entertainment Systems Connected Cities: Smart Meter Technology, Traffic Lights, and Parking Industrial Internet: Robotics, Factory Automation. The last two verticals present a tremendous opportunity for engineering consultancies, who will soon, if not already, be expected to leverage these new technologies into client projects. I have only scratched the surface of the power of the Internet of Things. Join me for my next post where I’ll explore more about what you can expect from IoT and share some tips for what you can do about it now. Has your firm started planning for the Connected Cities or Industrial Internet verticals? If so, what have been your biggest hurdles? Let us know in a comment below. Author’s Notes: This is the third 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.

Consumerization of Software: Mega Trends That Will Transform Your Consultancy

Javier Baldor
JavierBaldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
“If I spend so much of my day using these enterprise software products, why are they so difficult to use?” If you’ve heard (or said) this before, you aren’t alone. There is a technology and design shift underway called the Consumerization of Software and it’s impacting our expectations surrounding software and the way we do business. Earlier, I kicked off our blog series on transformative trends with some statistics about the Millennial workforce. Today, I want to shed some light on a concept called the Consumerization of Software. Over the next few months, follow along as we take an in-depth look into more developments that will affect the future of the architecture and engineering industry, both tomorrow and beyond. Trend TWO: CONSUMERIZATION OF SOFTWARE Here’s the issue: many of the enterprise software solutions used by engineering consultancies today are often cumbersome and hard to use. That’s because in most instances, the systems were designed fifteen to twenty years ago – without the context of widespread internet and smart phone usage. These outdated interfaces offer distinctly different user experiences when compared to the modern applications of today. Not surprisingly, this does not make users happy. WHAT IS THE CONSUMERIZATION OF SOFTWARE? Simply put, the Consumerization of Software is all about making things easier. Think about your own life. At home, we use mobile apps to connect with loved ones, manage our grocery lists, and even order pizza. Why? Because they make our lives easier. They save us time and money. Our workforce is now coming to the office with that same ease-of-use mindset and because of this, we have seen a shift in expectations around software. Your employees want intuitive, usable, and beautifully designed applications. And they don’t just want them in their personal lives, they want them professionally. Software today must meet the standards of user experiences that engineers have in their everyday lives--think about popular fitness apps, banking apps, or even parking apps. Systems design is steering away from the overly complicated and moving toward the user-friendly, and much of this will be driven by Millennials. What DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESS COMPUTING? In short -- Big change. In 2012, Future Simple CEO Uzi Shmilovici shared 3 predictions on the future of enterprise software: A new class of enterprise software will emerge — As new user experience paradigms become more prevalent, a new generation of business software will transpire. With a strong focus on user experience and making software usable for more than just managers, but end users themselves, this new generation of software will take hold quickly and provide a lot of value for a fraction of the cost. We will see a dramatic shift in discovery channels — Today people find new apps via social media, peer recommendations, search, or through their app store. There’s no need for a special committee to choose the right software when you can rely on credible ratings and recommendations. Many traditional vendors will fail to adopt—The truth is that it is not easy to adapt when you are sitting on top of a complex legacy code that barely runs in a modern browser, let alone on a new device. And, many vendors simply won’t make the investment. Fast forward four years after those predictions and one thing is certain--the future is here and there is still work to do. According to a 2016 Tech Pro Research survey, 44% of respondents say UX is lacking with enterprise software when compared to consumer software. Yet, even Gartner asserts that “competitive advantage hinges on exceptional user experience.” The need for a better user experience is paramount. Over the next few years, the devices and software that we use in our work environments will evolve into something dramatically different. The question is: Will you keep up? Do you feel the strains of consumerization at your organization? Share your story in a comment below. Author’s Note: This is the second post in a series on major trends affecting the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry.

The “Big” Shift: Mega Trends That Will Transform Your Consultancy

Javier Baldor
JavierBaldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
Having time to sift through all of the new research, infographics, and buzz words is challenging. Everyday, there is an increasing amount of data being thrown at us. It’s hard to know what to tune into and what to tune out. To help you navigate through the sea of information, we’re launching a series of blog posts exploring the major trends that will transform your consultancy. Over the next few months, follow along with us as we take an in-depth look into how these developments will affect our future, both tomorrow and beyond. Trend One: THE "BIG" ShiFT We’ve seen it coming -- the “Big” Shift. This year, the Millennial generation is projected to surpass the outsized Baby Boom generation as the largest living generation. What’s more, they’ve also edged out Generation X to make up the largest share of the American workforce. This massive generational shift has big implications for the way we do business. Chances are you are already hiring Millennials, promoting them, and trying to figure out how to get them to stay. Millennials have a new set of expectations surrounding work. And, if we don’t shift our own practices, we will fall behind. Who are they? Millennials are the boom from the Baby Boomers. They are between the ages of 18 and 34, they are passionate, they are tech savvy, they love to share, and they are always connected. They are the first generation to be raised on mobile phones and the Internet. Not surprisingly, 87% of Millennials agree that their smartphone never leaves their side, night or day. What motivates them? In a recent Kleiner Perkins survey, Millennials selected their most valued work benefit – and the results may surprise you. Training and development placed first with 22% of the vote, followed by flexible working hours at 19%, and cash bonuses coming in at 14%. Additionally, managers and Millennials were both asked what the most important thing to Millennials is in terms of work. Thirty percent of Millennials indicated meaningful work as the most important thing to them, yet nearly half of their managers guessed it to be higher pay. This statistic is very telling — there is a big perception disconnect happening between Millennials and their managers. What do they expect? Millennials entering the industry have different expectations around work/life balance, availability of workplace environments, technological resources, and training that meet their standards of simplicity and flexibility. Flexibility  They expect flexible work hours and 32% believe they will be working ‘mainly flexible' hours in the future. Mobility They expect to be able to work from home, office, or cafes at will. The latest technology Millennials prefer to collaborate online at work as opposed to in-person or over the phone, and 45% use personal smartphones for work. Moreover, the consumer software Millennials use at home (think Apple, Google) influences their expectations at work. They expect a beautiful user experience and they want it on-the-go. This trend, called the Consumerization of Software, is important to recognize. Mentorship Millennials have very short tenures (just 2 years!) when compared to other generations which range from 5-10 years. Why? A recent Deloitte study cites one of the primary reasons Millennials seek change is a lack of personal benefit, growth, and mentorship. Of note, 71% of those likely to leave their job in the next two years are unhappy with the development of their leadership skills. What can you do?  Embrace the opportunity and find a way to connect with Millennials and leverage their talent and passion. Your growing workforce comes with different expectations, so it may be time to rethink your work environment.  Millennials want to collaborate, learn, and grow. They want to feel supported and valued. They want flexibility. Create an environment that fosters this and you will create a company where Millennials want to work, love to work, and stay for years. Millennials are, after all, the future of our industry. Ben Horowitz with 4B private equity firm Andreessen Horowitz said: "Younger people tend to be more innovative because they have fewer assumptions. They don't understand why things are the way they are. They don't understand why they have to hail a taxi... You get more innovation because of that." Has your company seen a shift in workforce? If so, share some of your best practices or lessons learned in a comment below! Author’s Note: This is the first in a series on major trends affecting the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry.