In the last twenty years we have seen dramatic improvements in and widespread use of technology in construction. The construction industry is striving to undergo significant changes and new technology is leading the way. With advances in mobile devices, LAN/WAN, wireless, WIFI networks, new software applications, and the "iGeneration", the construction industry's move from paper to a digital format is under way.
Today I am happy to introduce to you a new member of our team, Shawn Butler. Shawn joined Autodesk about a month ago, and will be working alongside myself and the rest of the Beyond Design team to help create, facilitate and share technical marketing materials around the Building Design and Construction industries. We are very excited to have Shawn on the team as he brings close to 20 years of experience in the industry, and a passion for design, building and technology that uniquely positions him to bring insightful and impactful observations and experience to our world. I recently sat down with Shawn to get his take on where the industry is at today with regard to its use of technology. Below I've shared some of his initial thoughts, as well as a preview of an ongoing series that Shawn will be contributing called "When Construction and Technology Converge".
AG: Shawn, thank you so much for taking the time to discuss this great topic. Tell us more about what "When Construction and Technology Converge" is all about.
Shawn Butler (SAB): Thank you for the opportunity; I am excited to be a part of the team and community here at Autodesk. In "When Construction and Technology Converge" we will look at the ongoing changes that are happening in the construction industry, discuss the struggle to adoption, celebrate the achievements, and address the demands of the "iGenerations". We will address the interoperability difficulties in design software, construction, business process, and maintenance. With study after study showing that General contractors and Fabricators bore $1.8 billion and $2.2 billion, (NIST GCR 04-867 pg ES-6.) respectively of these interoperability costs, there is a lot at stake.
AG: Wow sounds like some exciting stuff there. You mention the term "iGeneration", can you tell me more about that?
SAB: The "iGeneration" refers to the generation of professional and non-professional technology users out there in the industry that is young and individualized. They are a group of people that must have information, instantly in-hand, they must be able to tell the world where they are and how they feel. Also, they can't they feel disconnected. Multitasking is their way of life and face to face communication is not.
AG: Very interesting group of folks out there. How do you see this impacting our industry?
SAB: With the construction industry efforts to move to an all-digital workflow, the "iGeneration" is ready and excited, but because the time to adoption moves along slow the "iGeneration" is frustrated. The "iGeneration" shares and consumes information at an ever increasing rate and if the application and construction industry can meet this demand they can increase efficiencies and productivity.
AG: How can we as construction professional best leverage this demographic?
SAB: With the "iGeneration", equipped with iTechnology and digital workflows many issues in the construction industry can be resolved. Zack Whittaker for iGeneration, stated "They (the "iGeneration") almost unknowingly understands the possibilities technology has and implements it into places which before seemed technologically redundant. The "iGeneration" sets precedents for the uses of technology and understands the limitations of human action and uses technology as an extension of the body through which to be increasingly productive. Smartphones enable the "iGeneration" individual to perpetually be in the workplace should they so wish. The device allows vital and varied communication to others, be they colleagues in business, friends or even enemies."
By providing the "iGeneration" with project information, when they need it, where they need it, in-hand, we create a workforce that can accelerate field to office communication, addressing cost, shorter timelines, and quality, with technology. We can feed the "iGeneration's" need to have information, instantly, in-hand and be more productive. They will use their iDevices, load apps (BIM 360 Field), access secure projects (information), collect data (pictures), post updates (interaction), communicate status (reports), notify issues (safety), and while doing all this meeting their need to consume information and making the construction industry more productive.
AG: Very exciting, and I really can appreciate the connection to how the iGeneration wants to work, and where the industry today is. This creates a gap that needs to be addressed in our industry, but of course and opportunity at the same time. Thank you for your time Shawn and we look forward to the next installment. Any hints for what we'll see in your next post?
SAB: Next time we will address what new technology the iGeneration wants.
AG: Thanks again for your time Shawn; I hope our readers are looking forward to hearing from you more just as much as I am.
With this post, I am also "passing the reigns" a bit, in that Shawn will be taking a more prominent role in Beyond Design in the future, as I step back from being a primary author. Though my time as an author for Beyond Design has been short, it's been a rewarding experience to share my thoughts and ideas on how we can work together to go beyond the design aspects of our construction projects, and really dig into the ways to cross industry trends and technology to ultimately improve our world. I look forward to contributing on more of a part time basis, as well as to seeing the other contributions from this stellar collection of talented authors. Thanks again for your readership and support.