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Microsoft Urges the Construction Industry to Deliver Lifecycle Value

Digitalization is changing the way that we operate and use buildings. Salla Palos is directing Microsoft towards a future that inspires innovative changes in both the mindset and the business models of AECO industry stakeholders.

Salla Palos

Salla Palos moved from Finland to the United States in July 2015 and settled down in Seattle, one of the fastest growing areas in the USA. She was versed in digitalization of construction industry in Finland as well as Europe and sought the opportunity to bring that knowledge into the US market.

As the Director of Emerging Technology and Innovation for Sellen Construction, one of the largest general contractor companies in the Pacific Northwest United States, Salla started developing digital building lifecycle as a strategy to solve number of industry problems.

“I zeroed in on developing digital construction strategy, re-engineering processes, and innovating how emerging technology supports digital construction. My approach was open innovation, pulling the industry along with our own digital transformation. I set up collaboration with both local and international partners to be successful in driving change and transforming AEC,” Salla recalls.

Moving on to Microsoft

The next step in driving AECO industry towards Industry 4.0 came in 2018 when Microsoft invited Salla to join Microsoft Global Real Estate and Security | Center of Innovation. In December 2018, Salla became the Director of Transformation Services for Microsoft, working with teams across the globe in the USA, LATAM, EMEA and Asia.

Microsoft is developing several new campus areas, the largest project being the Redmond Headquarters Campus Refresh. Microsoft aims to develop connected, sustainable, accessible, and safe campuses empowering the most talented workforce in the world.

Microsoft’s business mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” The same principle applies to company’s environments for Microsoft employees, vendors and visitors.

Transforming Work Environments

“All industries are moving towards industry 4.0, the digital revolution. We’re doing the same with our environments,” Salla states. “We don’t separate digital and physical environments because they both serve the same purpose. Our environments empower our workforce delivering our core business – technology.”

It’s self-evident that tomorrow’s work is ever more mobile. Fewer people visit the physical office environment every day to be productive. Addressing the physical, social and virtual environments as one are essential for retaining the future workforce.

Salla mentions Microsoft HoloLens and Microsoft Azure as two of the most interesting technologies she has encountered during her career. The HoloLens allows seamlessly mixing real-world experiences with virtual models and visual data. Microsoft Azure opens huge new opportunities for collaboration and fresh new business models in the AECO industry. The objective is to bring all the AECO stakeholders into the same digital building lifecycle, supporting each other in delivering environmentally, socially and economically sustainable built environment.

New Thinking for the Construction Sector

“The AECO stakeholders should start re-thinking their business models and processes so that they can serve the total building lifecycle – the total cost and the total performance of a building,” Salla urges. “Technology tools alone are not the solution. The whole supply chain must be re-imagined.”

Architects and engineers are still siloed into delivering the design intent and contractors in building the physical artifact. The new idea is that all stakeholders collaborate and deliver the total lifecycle of the building – cooperatively contemplating how the environment meets the investment and design strategy objectives, and what data is accumulated to keep the environment performing for its end-users.

As an architect Salla has started thinking about the digital building lifecycle, the total cost and the total performance of a building early on in her career when she was introduced to the concept of BIM at Tampere University of Technology. Collaborative delivery methods shift the discussion from sub-optimization of construction into the total value of real estate. The use of BIM and transoperable data make the new way of thinking possible.

Salla believes that the digitalization of the AECO industry will be a game-changer. It inspires the creation of new business models, such as digital construction, which will provide the AECO industry the much-needed productivity and profitability boost.

“When we commission construction projects around the world, we support the digital transformation of our partners and suppliers. Ultimately, everyone will benefit from it immensely,” Salla proclaims.

You can connect with Salla on LinkedIn.

The article photos are courtesy of Microsoft.


WDBE 2019

Salla Palos is a keynote speaker at World Summit on Digital Built Environment WDBE 2019.

About the author

Aarni Heiskanen

Aarni Heiskanen, Construction Innovation Agent, is hailed as a Top 100 influencer in construction. Aarni has been a pioneer in computer-aided design, he has co-founded a business software company, and worked as a certified management consultant. At present, he runs AE Partners, a construction industry communication firm. Aarni holds a master's degree in architecture.

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