Cisco Canada Blog

Agents of Change

August 24, 2011

Canadian Construction Leaders meet with John Chambers on Productivity, Innovation, Opportunity, and Transformation.

There is no doubt we all agree on the uncertainties in life: economic struggles, political instability, environmental challenges, rapid technology advancement, quality of healthcare and education, urbanization, globalization and subsequent competition, productivity, job security and prospects, and on and on. It seems that we’re amidst more market transitions than ever before. This is challenging, especially for those that merely seek to survive. What is making some of us very nervous is turning into opportunities for others.

Yes; the construction industry has been struggling with declining productivity for years. Yes, the new workforce in construction and real estate is bringing iPad’s to work and are expecting to use them for business also. Yes, no construction project is alike and—at the surface— requires customized processes. Yes, the construction industry is one of the world’s most fragmented industries…it’s hard work to get millions of companies in the construction value-chain to think alike and embrace transformation like we do. Yes, it is probably one of the few industries left standing that has defied the possibilities of technology to drive innovation, transformation, and productivity opportunities. But, maybe it’s time to move beyond the excuses [we’ve heard them all before].

It was the ‘let’s do it‘ attitude that was clearly noticeable during a CEO roundtable discussion last week at @CiscoCanada between Cisco’s President and CEO John Chambers, and nine distinct leading executives of the Canadian construction and real estate industry representing property managers, contractors, architects, engineers, and developers. There is no better time to spring into action then NOW. The innovation is happening today and the proof points are resounding: one participant talked about his 600,000 SF commercial tower that will demonstrate the latest in thinking and capabilities that provides a true 21st Century environment for its tenants; another participant talked about her new addition to a large campus whereby IP has become the new fourth utility and will impact the business of education that takes place in the new building; a third participant illustrated how the Network is driving cost from his developments while starting to provide new and exciting opportunities for the operator and clients in his buildings.

With technological (r)evolutions in collaboration, video, and cloud as the building blocks for the construction and real estate transformation—the industry itself needs to get behind it and lead by example, lead by scale, and lead by fear. The market is forcing the construction and real estate to wake up and change its gears. Maybe it’s true that doing so 3 or 5 years ago was too early; but it is also understood that waiting 2 or 3 years may be too late. So, what do we need (and it’s all out there already, let’s repackage it if necessary): COLLABORATION – rethink how the conventional industry works; there are many industries we can learn from that have embraced 21st century technologies to support 21st century collaboration, teaming, and productivity. STANDARDS – the LEED standard, despite its flaws, has been able to move a market; possible adjustments in MasterFormat. BENEFITS – is everyone really aware of the benefits for CAPEX, OPEX, operators, tenants (etc) of smarter and connected buildings. METRICS – clear and consistent ways of measuring impact and success. TRAINING – certification for industry professionals and incoming workforce. PARTNERSHIPS – new, innovative, and unconventional relationships that jointly move the ball forward and start the transformation machine. LEADERS – we don’t have to wait for broad industry consensus: we need leaders… and I saw nine sitting in our office last week.

It’s time to lead, follow, or get out of the way. If you’re just seeking to survive…you may as well get out of the way…or follow. Just don’t get left behind !

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