The Geospatial World Forum in Zaandam, The Netherlands, featured a plenary on collaborative workflows and the new opportunities for the AEC market as a result of technology integration. Trimble CEO Steve Berglund described how Trimble technology has changed over the last twenty years as a result of new technology developments, that not only enable end users to be more productive, but also help them redefine their workflows.
Berglund stressed the importance to constantly rethink how to define workflows as an adequate response to constantly changing technology. Only then can technology providers be successful and solve their clients’ problems.
A digital model as a center point
Over the last twenty years, Trimble’s focus was mainly on sensors, surveying and GIS. Today, the company helps its clients with becoming more productive and optimize workflows. These days, Trimble’s in four key areas are geospatial, construction, agriculture and transportation. Central to the workflows in all these areas is a digital model, that is used to model the physical world digitally. Using real-world data that is captured in the field, the model can fuel instruments, machines and tools through optimized workflows: AI and automatization mean that these machines and tools can become an extension of a digital model, blurring the difference between what is physical and what is virtual.
Optimization of workflows is possible through technological developments that enable higher spatial precision, connectivity and data access. For example, 5G network technology promises better connectivity for data collection, while the cloud has enabled access to huge databases that enable better decisions. With more dat, there’s that much more to learn from.
New role definitions in a changing world
After this introduction, Berglund commented on what he thinks are the implications of the converging technologies (especially BIM and geospatial technology), combined with the possibilities of big data, AI, the cloud and real-time rendering applications. He sees that technology is already changing the nature of relationships in the AEC space in terms of the relative importance of players, as technology is enabling “new forms of transparency and constructive action to take place in ways that were not historically possible”. This is, for example, visible in current workflows: for example, Trimble’s new hardhats equipped with a Microsoft HoloLens enable the use of digital information to be used on a construction site in real-time, showing that physical and digital models are used in the same context and no longer a sequential process from a workflow process.
Berglund’s final message was that in the end, the only constant is change, which means that everything is changing: not just geospatial workflows, but multiple industry workflows. Technology vendors are also driven by changes, which we can see in how the architecture of larger systems is defined. The result is new emerging constituencies that are enabled by new partner technology. Change will affect everyone now that the traditional comfort zone is under threat, meaning new role definitions for everyone in a changing world.