It’s a challenge for firms and individuals alike to keep up with the pace of change in this digital age, but one approach that can help is life-long learning
Recently the well respected CIC BIM2050 Group published its report Built Environment 2050: A Report on our Digital Future. The report is the result of the group’s research into what an interdisciplinary scope of work may look like as construction technology develops to BIM Level 3 and beyond, towards 2050.
Despite the provision of a glossary, the language and terminology of the report would, with respect, create a challenge for many of the readers whom it is aimed at. Terms such as nano-second procurement, Moore’s Law, protein synthesis have not been included in the glossary provided. Perhaps that illustrates the challenge; a new generation brings a new language.
The report, perhaps not surprisingly, anticipates very dramatic changes in the industry over the next 35 years. It suggests among other things that we integrate construction with molecular biology, that there will be increasing focus on “information acceleration” and “immediacy of feedback”, that “computational and analytical skills” will be of increasing value and there will be a likely shift “from employers owning employees to entrepreneurs trading talent as a commodity”.
The vast opportunities and enormous benefits that can come with large-scale innovation and game-changing new technologies will, I believe, only be realised if the industry is able to cope with them
Perhaps the most important of all its 10 key recommendations is the need for life-long learning. The vast opportunities and enormous benefits that can come with large-scale innovation and game-changing new technologies will, I believe, only be realised if the industry is able to cope with them.
In Future Shock, a book written by the futurist Alvin Toffler in 1970, he defined the term “future shock” as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. His shortest definition for the term is a personal perception of “too much change in too short a period of time”.
Toffler argued that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society”. This change can overwhelm people and can leave people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation” he popularised the term “information overload.”
If we can grasp the right mechanism for life-long learning so the concepts, theories and terminology within the report form part of the core on-going learning from board level to graduate, then we can understand, evaluate and adopt these new technologies in our stride. I suspect given the historic lack of research and development and education and training within the construction industry then we will struggle to deal with any accelerated change. Given the challenge many SMEs have in understanding and investing in BIM, what hope have they got with the onslaught of new methods of procurement, data sharing and digital tools?
I applaud this 2050 Group report. It should be a springboard for further action in particular how we embed new thinking and develop the talent in our organisations but more importantly to stimulate how we all maintain our finger on the pulse with ever changing technologies which can add value to our businesses. For those who are able to keep up to speed, the prospects are enormous.
Peter Trebilcock chairs Balfour Beatty’s UK-wide design community of practice and its UK BIM Steering Group