When we stop dreaming, we stagnate.

Dreams are good. We all need dreams. When we stop dreaming, we stagnate. We lock into doing things the same way repeatedly, even when we do not see the results that we want and expect. Without a dream for the future, it is easy to become frustrated and cynical.

Let us take a moment to dream about expectations, to learn how technology should be used to improve our world. What is your vision for the built environment? How will you take advantage of new and emerging technology? How will you adapt to a world that demands greater oversight and accountability? What is your goal for the future?

What are the chances that you can continue as though nothing has changed? If you are nearing retirement and have a real nest egg, perhaps the chances are good. For the rest of us… Not so much. We need a goal that will enable us to thrive in the world of tomorrow.

Ten years ago, we waged well-televised battles about whether we faced a global energy and environmental crisis… Or not.

Financial markets escalated as though investor confidence and price increases would last forever. Business was thriving. Many grabbed for the golden ring. There was little talk of real change… What was the point?

Then the world changed. The golden ring turned to pot-metal. We entered a period of decline and stagnation.

As we entered this season of change and adaptation, few understood the power and opportunities that technology made possible. Few had a vision for how to move forward in resilient ways. There were significant barriers to improving things in our world.

  • Some of the barriers were due to ignorance… people did not know what they did not know.
  • Some of the barriers were due to inertia… people had a hard time changing to new ways of doing things.
  • Some were due to self-interest… people were looking out for “number one” to the exclusion of all else.
  • Some of the barriers have slowed the recovery, and others have undermined the benefits to society.

As the world has changed; so must the building industry. The industry must start to look at what it does in a larger context, as these changes impact much more than technology. These changes are truly about people. The technology is nothing more than a force multiplier. New and optimized work practices, evolving methodologies, BIG BIM processes and Big Data have the potential to enable the building industry to leverage resources, compete in worldwide markets, and become more efficient and productive in the planning, design, construction and operation of facilities. Integrated business practices that exist throughout the world offer clues about how best to move ahead.

Identify other best-of-the-best organizations that are already well into the journey and use their example. These next-practices enterprises may be in the building industry, or not.

  • Look carefully, and find how your local grocery store tightly integrates their supply chain, with their delivery system.
  • Learn how your local car care shop integrates with their suppliers.
  • Turn to your physician to learn how integrated practices affect other professionals.
  • Look at organizations that have adapted to a world of normalized Big Data, web services, cloud based computing and a more ‘Google-like’ model of business.

The building industry must find its’ path into this world. The path may be smooth and painless, or it may be disruptive and revolutionary. To a large extent it is in your hands.

By learning how to easily access just the right data at the proper time to solve the current problem, the building industry can begin to enable a larger conceptual framework that integrates with GiS, non-project business processes and other areas that both gain value and create value for the entire built environment value chain.

As a worldwide industry, we are not optimized for the management of the twenty-first-century environment. The challenge finds us unprepared. Most of us were trained to an industrial era model and must change, whether we like it or not. We must find ways to enlighten mid-career professionals while training the young for new ways of thinking and working.

Many in the building industry have narrow, highly siloed views of technology. These views are not surprising as most people today use the available tools merely for design and construction related tasks. However, in the long run a world-view that relies on highly complex desktop tools requiring file exchanges and API connections will sub-optimize the benefits and may well be the reason that keeps the built environment from truly achieving the productivity benefits that are possible.

Both public and private clients need us to become more than we have been before. They demand greater certainty of outcomes. They need to manage their assets in a world of constraints and tight fiscal limits. They need a building industry that can deliver a sustainable and resilient built environment, on time and on budget, every time. They need the building industry to become a life-cycle resource.

Across the built environment, systems have to change. Building industry professionals can no longer exist by focusing on design and construction. As an industry, we must become more. Much more. We must expand our horizons.

We must become leaders in a system focused on a resilient world.