The AEC industry is the industry of superheroes. In a typical superhero movie, evil external forces invade a city, a country – or even the whole universe – without warning. The authorities cannot find an effective, systematic way to defeat them using their everyday arsenal of weapons. So, they turn to superheroes who have the extraordinary powers and knowledge needed to defeat the invading forces. Every mission is unique and different, requiring heroes with specific skills, powers, and strategies.
Just like the mission that is central to most superhero movies, every AEC project takes place in a unique location, with specific requirements and goals. So, AEC companies assemble and deploy their highly skilled “heroes” to complete their design and construction mission. Besides executing projects, this heroic culture also exists in how some companies innovate: they rely on random and ad-hoc innovation from their top talent superheroes.
Unlike a superhero movie, in which the heroes rarely leave, age, or lose their powers, the superheroes of the AEC industry are beginning to retire. Or, if they are young, they switch jobs to grow in their career. That loss of personnel, plus the growing global climate emergency, increased project complexities, lower profit margins, and lack of productivity, bring lots of pressure to our industry. This is why we need to think differently and solve our problems systematically.
Technology (and more specifically, AI) is one of the weapons the AEC industry can draw on to help solve these problems. Innovative AI solutions, if built the right way, can partner with us to reduce project complexities, advise us based on the patterns of past projects, and codify the valuable, hard-earned knowledge of our AEC superheroes for generations to come, ensuring that it will never be lost.
But how can you bring strategic AI innovation to your company?
Strategic innovation happens at the intersection of ‘WHY’ (coming from executives in the form of strategy) and “How” (coming from your employees with how-to knowledge). But the first step is educating your executives and employees about AI BEFORE creating an AI innovation strategy for your organization.
Let me explain why AI education is the first step.
AI is an emerging technology, and its frontier changes and gets better every day. What you knew about AI a year ago may not be true today. This is how fast this field is improving: exponentially.
If the company executives and strategy makers don’t know about AI’s capabilities today, how can they create a good AI innovation strategy? Or if your employees, as the executors of your AI strategy, don’t know what AI is and what exactly it can or cannot do, they spend countless hours discussing the use cases that are impossible to be done with AI. Or even worse, employees may avoid the discussion because of the fear of being seen as illiterate about the topic. By training your employees, you give them the language that they can use to solve your problems better, create business values, and make you an extraordinary leader in the industry.
Educating your decision-makers and employees about AI is the key to unlocking strategic innovation in your company. This strategic innovation empowers your organization to defeat the evil with all your police force rather than relying on your superhero employees.