Innovation in the architecture, engineering and construction industries is incremental and evolutionary. As in other mature industries, AEC innovation is driven more by external than internal forces.
During the last 20 years the key driver in AEC innovation has been information technology. It has changed both the way we manage and exchange information. It has also lead to process changes, even though not as radical as the visionaries anticipated.
In addition to technology, what economic, social and political changes could drive innovation in AEC? I composed the following non-exhaustive list of trends and phenomena that I think are worth considering. Depending on your point of view, you can see it is a list of opportunities or threats:
- Aging population – In the world, two billion people will be 60 years’ old, or older, by 2050, more than triple the number in 2000.
- Digital lifestyles – Mobility, social networks and augmented reality change the way we interact.
- Economic crisis – Cost cutting and misery, but also public spending to boost the economy.
- Energy efficiency – Governments are setting ambitious goals. How to reach them?
- Individualism – One size fits nobody!
- New ways of working – How to support the needs of the mobile workforce.
- Servitization of products – Services can be your next source of revenues and profits.
- Sustainability – It was not a fad.
- Urbanization – By 2030 60% of world population will live in cities.
- Virtual companies – Using technology even a small company can extend its capabilities dramatically and become ultra competitive.