AEC industry must adapt for the future, research reveals

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New Aurecon research reveals the architecture, engineering and construction sectors are not currently preparing workforces for the future.

Organisations must adapt their business models and up-skill personnel to create new value, ‘The Digital Horizon’ survey finds.

The second wave of Aurecon’s ‘Our Digital Futures’ research surveyed more than 100 business leaders and specialist futurists across the world.

Here’s what it uncovered:

  • more than half of respondents feel their organisation is, at best, only somewhat capable of thriving in a changing digital landscape
  • respondents believe that significant change will only catalyse in 11 years’ time yet experts advise organisations must prepare now instead of waiting
  • technologies that will likely reshape entire industries, such as AI, were deemed less important than data, efficiency and distributed computing technologies, and
  • 75 percent of respondents named ‘up-skilling staff’ as a focus area for their organisation to thrive over the next two to five years.

“Great disruption is knocking as new technologies are now connecting the physical infrastructure and digital worlds at a pace and scale never witnessed,” says Aurecon chief digital officer Dr Andrew Maher. “Our survey data demonstrated a need for leaders to stay up-to-date on emerging trends and understand what technology is in development, when it will reach maturity, how it will impact their industry and how they can respond commercially. This is critical for businesses to stay agile and turn disruption into opportunity.”

The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector has not yet experienced as much digital disruption as other sectors, Maher believes, partly due to the physical nature of the sector’s products.

Technologies that promise to fundamentally reshape entire industries and are set to catalyse significant change, such as AI, energy microgrids, autonomous transport and blockchain were deemed less important than data, efficiency and distributed computing technology. However, “technologies that will connect the digital and physical built environments in the future have the potential to improve efficiency and productivity, transform entire industries, leading to new challenges for the business models of industry incumbents and should not be overlooked,” warns Maher.

Despite concerns about automation and job loss, ‘Our Digital Futures’ suggests that in many organisations automating systems and process are not being undertaken purely from a productivity perspective, but rather to free up people to engage in continual learning opportunities and enable investment of saved resources in other venues.


Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

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