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Last week, I attended the ENR FutureTech East conference in New York City.  It was a great event and the most relevant FutureTech yet to the SAP solution portfolio.  In fact, the agenda might as well have been pulled directly from an SAP industry program with several presenters mentioning SAP products.  Here are some of the highlights:

A panel discussion on predictive analytics highlighted the value of creating mash ups of historical data and public source information to create “Big Data”.  This approach allows companies to apply context to their data and create actionable intelligence using predictive algorithms.  For instance, you could combine historical bid results with Dodge data creating a mashup to predict the best jobs for your firm to bid.  I was happy to see Ashish Verma from Deloitte consulting include SAP HANA on his list of enabling technologies for “Big Data”.

Next was a discussion of automated prefabrication, centered on integrating BIM into the prefabrication process.  The panel covered challenges presented by multiple design platforms and a lack of standardized processes. This dovetails with our efforts around Virtual Design and Construction using SAP Visual Enterprise.  

Later in a session on GeoDesign & Construction, industry experts shared emerging trends in this field helping us understand how technologies like laser scanning and satellite-controlled construction equipment will change the future of our industry.  With all this data integrated into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) new types of sophisticated analysis become a possibility.  This reminded me that SAP recently worked with ESRI to include native processing of GIS in the latest release of HANA.

Finally, Kiewit presented the story of how they have transformed their business using SAP ERP as the core and surrounding it with other SAP technologies to truly empower their workforce.  They described an outside in approach, where they looked to the jobsite as the starting point designing mobile applications (built on SAP mobile technology) to facilitate easy access to information and easy input of critical information like quantities and daily visual inspections of equipment. 

Then we capped the day with a dinner, reconnecting with several of our old friends (customers) and some new friends as well.

What did you enjoy most about the ENR FutureTech event?

Which of the new technologies do you think will have the biggest long term impact on the construction industry?