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Welcome to this year’s second edition of the FMI Quarterly. We devoted this entire issue to technology, and for good reason. In this traditionally slow-to-adapt industry, many organizations are either unprepared for or overwhelmed by the magnitude of new emerging technologies.
As a result, executives often struggle to deploy useful technology solutions to help their firms effectively improve their businesses. However, we are also witnessing engineering and construction (E&C) firms that are paving the way into a new data-driven, digitized future, challenging traditional thinking and bringing new business models to the table.
Generally speaking, the business environment tends to incorporate people, processes and technology when seeking out ways to improve its overall operations. More than ever, those three categories are overlapping in the built environment, where technology can help both people and processes perform better. This has been a focus for FMI for decades, and it’s something we take very seriously. Our Technology and Innovation practice, for example, helps companies 1) improve processes and 2) layer in technology that not only helps solidify process improvements but also helps employees, managers and leaders perform more effectively.
Slow to adopt technology in the past, the built environment has seen the introduction of over 2,000 different technology solutions over the last 10 years. This has caused new levels of confusion, but it has also created significant opportunity for E&C companies that want to leverage these technologies. In this edition of the Quarterly, we have a collection of articles across all stakeholder groups in the built environment that talk about how technology is impacting and influencing businesses across the value chain.
Russ Young will show you how Amazon is shaking up building product manufacturers. What started out in 1995 as an online bookseller and then subsequently brought giants like Borders and Books-a-Million to their knees has since turned into a B2B powerhouse that has companies across all industries worried about what’s around the next corner.
“As Amazon Business continues to make headway in the building products distribution industry,” he writes, “BPMs ought to be thinking about Amazon’s impact on the way business is being done.”
In “Artificial Intelligence: Possibilities for Engineering and Construction,” James Boileau shows how, as technology continues to disrupt many industries, it’s also offering exciting and meaningful opportunities to improve how we work and deliver evermore complex projects for our customers. And while the technology solutions being proposed and/or implemented in E&C are still in the early stages, they include advanced options like 3D printing, robotics, digital twin technology, AI and modularization.
Also check out Alyssa Menard and Ryan Howsam’s informative piece on “Technology and Risk Mitigation in the Built Environment,” which details the relationship between technology adoption and good risk management. The authors also share some key insights from FMI’s recent Risk Study, conducted in collaboration with AGC.
It’s no secret that the competitive nature of the built environment, combined with current workforce dynamics, is pushing E&C companies to consider different ways to perform in the industry. Technology is an enabling solution, and it should be part of your plan. In this issue of the Quarterly, you’ll find the tools you need to get started and to implement a technology approach that helps your company “win” in any business environment.