AEC business infrastructure for digital transformation

Nov 15, 2016 8:00:33 AM

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Creating an AEC business infrastructure that lets you manage operations and become an innovative leader at your own pace

Some findings in the recent KPMG global construction survey we mentioned in our last blog post are cause for concern. Many respondents indicate their concerns about increasing risk and overwhelming project complexity, and only 20 percent of them rely on fully integrated project management systems.

However, there are also signs of new developments in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. For example, just over 20 percent of the respondents mention that they are aggressively disrupting their business models, which would demonstrate a readiness to accept and manage risk and explore new technologies. 61 percent of the companies involved already use building information modeling (BIM), and as many as 30 percent have incorporated robotics into their operation.

As we discussed, AEC companies can deploy and integrate in the cloud Microsoft Dynamics 365 and project and asset management modules from the To-Increase Architecture, Engineering, and Construction solution suite to gain the functionality they need, when they need it. Once they have deployed the capabilities they require immediately, they can evolve their AEC business infrastructure in the cloud at their preferred momentum. As they create their own software platforms in the cloud, we should clearly distinguish what kinds of capabilities they should think about.

 

Three layers of systems, ideas, and business momentum

You may remember the pace-layered architecture model Gartner published back in 2012. Innovation moves so fast that what was still ahead of its time then is feasible and manageable now. The Gartner model featured three kinds of technologies—systems of record, differentiation, and innovation. The business issues they addressed and the systems themselves changed and evolved at different velocities. Gartner introduced three types of software systems:

- Systems of record typically related to master data management and standardized, well-established processes and types of transactions—a realm where change can be slow.

- Systems of differentiation supported company- or industry-specific processes, changed every few years, and required adjustments to suit business needs.

Systems of innovation were said to address emerging needs and opportunities, were often developed rapidly, and had life spans of twelve months or less. These systems closely corresponded to the commonly accepted, different, and new ideas of the business leaders.

The combination of To-Increase Architecture, Engineering, and Construction with Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides AEC businesses with the modular functionality they need to create an AEC business infrastructure and run their operation by using each type of system.

 

Business applications that span systems of record, differentiation, and innovation

AEC companies can now implement software functionality by workload, which is one of the core concepts behind the modular design of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. You can simply start by digitally transforming the area of the business that can generate the most value and offers the greatest opportunities for improvement—such as finance, services, asset management, or project management. Continue to grow on the same platform. That approach also maximizes the economies of the cloud to keep technology budgets controlled and manageable.

How do systems of record, differentiation, and innovation figure in an integrated AEC business infrastructure of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and To-Increase Architecture, Engineering, and Construction? Here’s a quick overview.

Systems of record typically correspond to the business and operations management capabilities of ERP, available in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, found previously only in Microsoft Dynamics AX, the ERP system.

- When it comes to systems of differentiation, the cloud and mobile, anytime and anywhere aspect of Dynamics 365 already delivers that. You can access your data and software capabilities no matter where you are, whenever you like—perfect for the many mobile and roaming project managers, site managers, subcontractors, and executives in growing AEC companies. You may be able to redesign some of your processes and daily practices for greater agility in response to changing customer requirements, market conditions, or resource availability, faster and more efficiently than your competitors. — Remember that Dynamics 365 incorporates the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for handling services, sales, and marketing. You can take advantage of that to serve your customers in a highly distinctive and competitive manner. And, when you add the To-Increase functionalities for advanced project and asset management, you can benefit from a connected, complete and integrated business platform in a secure, scalable, economical cloud environment to perform profitable projects and keep the business value of machinery and equipment high.

- AEC systems of innovation depend entirely on companies’ vision and mission. On their integrated Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations and To-Increase infrastructure, AEC companies can pursue innovation while minimizing their risk. If, for instance, they construct or manage smart buildings that are furnished with sensors connected to the internet of things (IoT), they can integrate their data streams and analytics with To-Increase asset management tools to maintain buildings and architectural components in optimal conditions and evolve their design and construction practices based on new insights. Or, they could connect a building information modeling (BIM) application to their AEC-optimized ERP system to accelerate and simplify their design and materials management for increasingly complex projects anywhere in the world.

 

This layered, modular approach lets you bring digital transformation to one area of the business at a time, proceeding at your own speed and as makes best sense for your projects and clients. Throughout the process, you can rely on proven, affordable, solid, yet innovative technology to position your AEC business for long-term project success and strong competitive differentiation.

If this sounds attractive, and you want to learn more or discuss how we can assist you in building your AEC business infrastructure, or have questions and feedback, let’s talk. Please send me a note or simply contact To-Increase.

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