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Journal Of Commerce

Consultant and futurist Jim Bottomley was the keynote speaker for the final session from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Leadership Summit 2014 in Winnipeg, Man.

Consultant and futurist Jim Bottomley was the keynote speaker for the final session from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Leadership Summit 2014 in Winnipeg, Man.

Bottomley’s session, titled “success strategies for the age of innovation,” dived into how different trends are converging to affect the consulting engineering industry.

Bottomley began by saying the key to innovation is understanding the benefits you give to your stakeholders and then delivering those benefits in a better way.

Bottomley said change has accelerated but this is just the beginning, and that change results in both opportunities and threats. It isn’t good or bad, it’s both.

In the past, when selling change, the tendency was to sell only the positive side. That isn’t a fair representation of change and it’s necessary to explain both the pluses and minuses.

The key to managing change is determining how to react to it. Take actions to embrace opportunities and minimize threats, Bottomley said.

The critical issue is: what business are you in? The business you’re in is defined by the needs you deliver. Engineers are in the “peace of mind” business, Bottomley said.

Bottomley said the way to evaluate an opportunity is to determine if it is a need that is growing, if it satisfies the needs of stakeholder groups, and offers solutions delivered in a better way than other options.

If you want to move from lowest price to providing added-value, it’s required to focus on better benefit strategies, and provide specific high-priority need satisfiers better than the competition.

This trend should prove itself over time, he said.

Trend areas include technology, economics, social/cultural values, demographics and political and legal change.

Trends start with technology and cascades through the different categories.

Technology creates higher levels of productivity based on new technologies, and also redefines industries. Often that happens through job loss, followed by increased career shifting.

Manufacturing and farming used to be the dominant careers in Canada, but now only two per cent of Canadians are farmers and only seven per cent are in manufacturing.

Economic success equals technology multiplied by resources, Bottomley said. Innovation, especially technology, comes from collaboration.

New methodologies will enable the construction and engineering industries, from RFID to Big Data, will be an influencer.

Collaborative automation and continuous process improvement are key to reducing costs, he said.

But the “Internet of Things” means everything will talk to everything so things like enabling bridges to report when they are unsound are becoming feasible.

Bio-engineering means easier brownfield recovery, and geo-engineering and GIS also bring benefits ot the industry.

To “industrial-age” managers, everything is about solving problems. Changing the job description instead of trying to change the employee means it lets the worker shine instead of punishing them for not fitting the description.

Regional clusters are another emerging trend. Regions can specialize in a certain category and then deliver that value worldwide.

Clusters focus on an area of lead-edge need, with collaborative public and private sector partners conducting research, commercialization and serving to promote regional economic growth.

Branding the region attracts investment, skilled labour and additional clusters.

Potential clusters match with regional strengths, go for world-wide demand themes, and connect to leading edge research and application testing of their better-benefit solutions.

Urbanism, sustainability and energy, and demographic trends will all affect the engineering industry, as will social trends.

The most important trend is the rise of individual power through knowledge.

The result is more demanding, knowledgeable users, customers and constituents.

Focused need satisfaction strategies are the key to success in the new economy, which Bottomley termed Qualification Based Selection.


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