manufacturingtechnologyinsights

Technology is transforming the Architecture and Engineering Industry

By Bill Kloster, CIO, SEH

Bill Kloster, CIO, SEH

Population growth and the increasing trend of megacities require more sustainable, efficient and cost-effective infrastructure. Higher standards for sustainable living will increase consumption of renewable energy and the demand for clean water. The development of smart cities is a transformational example of how architecture and engineering firms must leveraging technology to provide value to their clients.

The Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud Computing and Technology Transformation are viewed by many, myself included, as flashy buzz words created by some sales executive to increase revenue. However, they are also tangible products and services that are driving a significant change in the Architecture and Engineering industry.

"The integration of mobile applications with enterprise data creates enhanced real-time internal and external collaboration opportunities"

Big Data storage designed to enable collaboration

According the EMC’s Digital Universe Study, there is a forty percent annual projected growth rate in global data. Architecture and engineering firms rely on large amounts of data in the form of very large electronic graphics files. The emergence of 3D images and videos used to share information is driving the demand for increased storage capacity. Large files can take a long time to load without a large network pipe and a method to cache or compress large data files. Firms are looking to cloud-hosting providers to provide a single shared location of project information and eliminate the need for large capital investments in storage equipment. Data compression solutions are playing an important role reducing the download time when accessing  and sharing large amounts of data across multiple locations.

Mobile technology for anytime, anywhere access to information

Employees at construction firms spend the majority of their time away from the office. They are meeting with clients and visiting project sites daily. The emergence of mobile forms is allowing firms to go paperless in the field. The integration of mobile applications with enterprise data creates enhanced real-time internal and external collaboration opportunities. Mobile applications for construction management are able to provide secure external collaboration and integrate with internal file sharing solutions. This reduces the need to create multiple copies of files when communicating with clients and project teaming partners.

3D Scanning, Imaging and printing

Creating a model within minutes is a reality with 3D scanning. This new technology improves the efficiency and accuracy in estimating, modeling, and surveying. 3D scans reduce potential rework, because architects and designers are now aware of what exists inside existing walls. 3D Images are a powerful sales tool. 3D images and 3D printed models provide a more realistic view of the finished product to clients. Software programs are only going to get better in this space, as the compute capacity on workstations and mobile devices improve. The virtual tour of a future job site will continue to evolve as virtual reality software integration with design software expands. This give architects and designers the ability to get real time client feedback on their designs before the construction begins. This will lead to higher client satisfaction and less rework.

Cyber Security and reliable data backups

The ability to secure sensitive client information, employee information and intellectual property is critical. IBM estimates that every business experiences a cyber attack 46 times every single day and that an average of 1.7 per week are successful. Ninety-five percent of those successful attacks are caused by an individual responding to a malicious e-mail or visiting a malicious website. The need for a solid security awareness program and reliable backup to restore data is paramount in the fight against cyber crime. The assumed breach cyber security methodology led to the development of advanced user and machine behavior detection and prevention solutions for networks and end points. Some of these solutions have sophisticated segmentation and isolation capabilities to contain and limit the impacts of a breach.

Understanding the value of IT as a business partner

Numerous studies confirm the evolving nature of the CIO, CISO and CTO roles. The realization that technology enables business value through partnership in decision making on corporate strategy, product selection and content based marketing is critical to the success of most firms. Engineers are finding that technology can make them more effective and efficient. Corporate leaders understand the importance of building a digital presence to drive brand recognition. IT leaders are more involved than ever on investment decisions for the firm. The increase in technology leadership experience on corporate leadership teams, including the Board of Directors, emphasizes the understanding that information technology plays an important role in the construction and engineering industry.

The growth of our global population creates demand and opportunity for the construction and engineering industry to solve more problems using innovation and technology. Cities look to engineering firms to develop solutions for renewable energy, water treatment and infrastructure systems. Construction firms create environments that are sustainable resources and appeal to members of the community. Architecture, Design, and Engineering firms provide client value through the industry expertise of their employees. Those employees leverage technology to access and share vast amounts of accurate near real-time secure data and graphical images on any device, from any location.