Enabling Collaboration at ICE
Bluebeam VP of Strategic Development Sasha Reed speaks on a diverse panel of industry experts at ICE’s “Shaping a Digital World” conference.
Despite the unifying factor of working toward a common goal, no two collaborations are ever the same. Within construction projects, collaboration can reach complex levels, and even some of the most successful firms and companies have yet to input collaboration standards and practices into their build plans. And when done well on a project, collaboration generally yields incredible results and a boost in project efficiency. One aid to project collaboration has emerged in the form of technology, which now offers cloud-based, real-time platforms that help project stakeholders ensure they’re on the same page.
Given the current landscape, the “Shaping a Digital World” conference held by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in London dedicated a special panel to exploring the difficult nature of collaboration and the advancement of industry technology, with guests hailing from vastly different backgrounds.
- Chair: Teodoro Alvarez Fadón, Head of Innovation, Ferrovial Agroman
- Panelist: Simon Colvin, Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms Practice, Pinsent Masons
- Panelist: Duncan McCormick, Construction Software Sales Specialist, Topcon
- Panelist: Sasha Reed, VP Strategic Development, Bluebeam, Inc.
- Panelist: Marzia Bolpagni, Built Environment and Construction Engineering Department, Politecnico di Milano
During the panel, live polls were conducted among audience members who packed the Telford Theatre at ICE headquarters, showing the collective how much they agreed or disagreed on certain topics. Two of the more thought-provoking questions and answers are below.
Q: What do you expect from collaboration?
- 31% – Real-time information sharing
- 57% – Informed decision-making
- 6% – Less mistakes/errors
- 6% – Problem-solving with software/systems/tools
Q: How much can your leadership help speed digital and innovation intake in your organization?
- 60% – Current leaders do not fully understand the power of digital collaboration
- 34% – A great deal
- 3% – I rather see it as a bottom-up approach
“People are getting better education as to the benefits that technology can bring, and also the fact that if you’re not doing it in the infrastructure industry, these disruptors will do it for you, and they’ll eat your lunch and you’ll be gone. You kind of have to embrace this change but as long as you’re educated and start to learn from it, it’s a positive message.” – Simon Colvin, Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms Practice, Pinsent Masons
“You have to think about how you should maintain your building for its entire life. In the beginning, when you think with the end in mind, this enables collaboration between different people. When we are dealing with digital models, a collaborative environment is very important. There are different parties who are responsible for certain elements, which makes it difficult to assign the intellectual property to just one party. This collaborative type of work is changing the way we are working and from the legal point of view, it’s not so easy to separate the different responsibilities. I think we need some procurement models that support the collaborative environment.” – Marzia Bolpagni, Built Environment And Construction Engineering Department, Politecnico Di Milano
“What disruption actually means is growth. Growth means change. Not everybody likes change. In five years’ time, there’s going to be companies still working because they have adapted and those out of business because they didn’t. Let me give two examples of how disruptive software can be. The biggest hotel company in the world doesn’t own any hotels: Airbnb. The biggest taxi company in the world, Uber, doesn’t own any taxis. That’s how disruptive software can be. When these guys came up with the idea, they didn’t think of the customers, they didn’t think about how it would affect people, instead it was very mercenary.” – Duncan McCormick, Construction Software Sales Specialist, Topcon
“I would agree and disagree at the same time. Yes, I think it is the technology player’s role to disrupt, but how you go about that is the difference in my line. One of the questions is also how you reduce complexity and engage with customers, and I think this is where it lies. It is in partnership. Our role as a technologist is to understand and know your business intimately enough to leverage our talent to develop things that serve your purposes as specifically as possible. In us knowing your business well enough to develop technology for you to do your business better, you then redefine what those roles are. It should never be my job to tell an industry practitioner how to develop their roles.” – Sasha Reed, VP Strategic Development, Bluebeam, Inc.
The consensus among the panelists and audience was that the industry should create supply webs, not supply chains, backed by collaborative technology. Other key points involved the need for widespread long-term interoperability, condensing data to avoid repetition, investing in collaborative staff training, and sharing failures—not just successes—so that the industry can grow as a whole.