The Kodak Moment with AI
In a world where technology advances at breakneck speed, the building industry has often lagged, especially when juxtaposed with sectors like manufacturing. While others have embraced change, the building industry is content with the status quo. Reports from McKinsey and others paint a picture of an industry at the bottom of the pack regarding technological maturity. What was once a technical discussion relegated to technologists has become a strategic business imperative fueled by leadership because Artificial Intelligence allows the industry to improve productivity and profitability dramatically.
Challenges and Roadblocks
Fragmentation, competition, and a lack of unified standards have long been the Achilles' heel of the building industry. The development of Building Information Modeling (BIM) exemplifies these struggles. Despite its potential, BIM has faced a decades-long journey toward widespread acceptance, hindered by perceived complexities, implementation costs, and lack of governance. This sector, crucial to our everyday lives, has a significant environmental impact and has yet to mature. These factors have impeded progress and stifled innovation, keeping the industry several steps behind its technological potential.
A Pandemic-Induced Paradigm Shift
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has been a harsh but necessary wake-up call. Cities like San Francisco and Washington, DC, have transformed, with once-bustling offices now empty. This new reality has left owners and operators grappling with vast expanses of unused space, directly hitting their bottom lines. This shift has altered cityscapes and forced a rethink of how we use and value our built environment.
The Artificial Intelligence Jolt
In this landscape of uncertainty and change, artificial intelligence has emerged as a beacon of hope. 92% of Fortune 500 companies are already using ChatGPT and AI. This mirrors a broader trend across industries, where AI is no longer a futuristic concept but a present-day tool driving business strategies. Real estate is beginning to realize the untapped potential in its vast data reserves. This awakening has reached corporate leadership, with C-suite executives demanding data readiness for AI integration. This is the best reason in decades to bring data standards, architecture, and governance to the forefront. Ironically, humans need quality data to make decisions, but what we could not achieve in decades only took a few months for AI to drive that need home. What was once a discussion relegated to technologists has become a strategic business imperative fueled by leadership demands.
This is a building industry company's "Kodak Moment." The cautionary tale of Kodak, which missed its chance to lead the digital revolution, is a stark reminder of what's at stake. We stand at a pivotal juncture where embracing AI can catapult a company into a new era of innovation and efficiency if organizational top leaders acknowledge it. At the recent Coretech Buildings AI conference in Palo Alto, CA, we heard that organizations must "snap out" of complacency and respond. It's not just about adopting AI; it's about revolutionizing the approach to data, standards, and collaboration. We must not use fear of AI or hallucinations to cloud our resolve to change; that is so early in 2023!
Data as an Asset for Humans and AI
As leaders navigate this Kodak moment, their choices will shape the building industry's future. Will we adapt and thrive in the age of AI, or will we fear the future and cling to outdated practices and be left behind? The rise of AI in managing the lifecycle of facilities is not just a possibility—it's a necessity. We need open data, standards, data governance, and a collective push toward innovation. This is a call to action for the entire industry: rapidly pivoting, adapting, and leading in this new digital era. If we do not, who will? Maybe AI? The question is not if the building industry companies will evolve with AI but which companies will survive and fade into obscurity. Our proactive engagement in this transformation will dictate our place in the future landscape.
Join us in upcoming BIMStorm sessions for insights and practical strategies into BIM, Digital Twins, and AI.
Kimon Onuma, FAIA