This year’s ACE Digital Leadership Conference was held at Prince Phillip House in central London on Thursday 20 June. The conference brought together senior technology leaders from across the consulting engineering sector to discuss the challenges and opportunities resulting from digital transformation.
The conference was opened by ACE Chief Executive, Hannah Vickers, followed by a keynote presentation from Mark Enzer of Mott MacDonald and the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB). The first panel session focused on client needs, with Sarah Hayes of the National Infrastructure Commission and Miranda Sharp of Ordnance Survey joining Thames Tideway’s Peter Vale for a session on client evolution.
In the second session of the day, Scott Communications‘ co-founder and director Tony Scott took delegates through the outputs of the ACE Digital Transformation Group roundtable debates that were held in the spring. Each of the debates focused on one of the three thematic areas of ACE’s 2019 Future of Consultancy initiative:
To dig deeper into the issues raised in the debates, Tony then chaired a panel consisting of Mace’s Dr Marzia Bolpagni, Imperial College’s Professor Jennifer Whyte, Royal HaskoningDHV’s Casey Rutland and Costain’s David Owens. Using the thematic areas covered in the spring debates, the panel discussed areas of opportunity for consultancy businesses to support their clients better.
On the topic of delivering integrated projects, Dr Marzia Bolpagni said:
‘It is essential we embrace a digital approach that supports strategic enablers such as the adoption of collaborative procurement methods, machine readable information requirements and standardisation of processes. Even if our sector is historically slow in digitalisation and automation, new players are entering the market and the speed of digital transformation might radically change. Events such as the ACE Digital Leadership Conference and collaborative roundtables are key to shaping the future of consultancy.’
‘Having taken part in all three of the spring debates as an independent consultant, it was a privilege being able to replay their key findings to the conference audience. The AEC industry is going through major digital transformation today. It is fascinating seeing the degree to which each of the companies within it, from SMEs to the very large, is seizing the opportunities this presents. Scott Communications is very happy to be supporting ACE and its aspirations for its members and the wider industry through these exciting times.’
The day continued with further engaging sessions focused on digital leadership, and concluded with a networking reception in the evening.
To learn more about ACE’s Future of Consultancy initiative, visit https://www.acenet.co.uk/campaigns/future-of-consultancy/.
Scott Communications’ co-founder and director Tony Scott is pleased to have been appointed as an independent consultant and adviser to support the Digital Leadership strand of Association for Consultancy and Engineering’s (ACE) ‘Future of Consultancy’ campaign.
ACE chief executive Hannah Vickers announced the campaign in November 2018, sharing her vision of helping the entire consultancy and engineering sector welcome a new era of design and delivery in the built environment. In a warmly received speech at ACE’s 2018 European CEO Conference, Hannah outlined the disruptive influences of new technology and highlighted the further step-changes that digitally enabled manufacturing, whole-life asset performance, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) would bring in the future.
Tony, a founding member of ACE’s recently formed Digital Transformation Group, is supporting a series of roundtable breakfast debates for consultancy and engineering digital leaders at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall, London.
The first debate was held on 28th February and focused on ‘Strategic Planning and Placemaking’. The second breakfast debate on 15th March will address ‘Delivering Integrated Projects’, with attendees at the final breakfast on 12th April debating the topic of ‘Data-Led Asset Performance’.
Tony will be participating in the three debates and consolidating their collective output to feed into ACE’s Digital Leadership Conference at the Royal Academy of Engineering, Prince Philip House, in London on 20th June.
‘Having chaired the organising panel for ACE’s inaugural European CIO Conference in 2017 and supported the organising and running of the 2018 conference, I am thrilled to have been invited to participate in the planning and build-up for this year’s Digital Leadership Conference, the successor to the CIO Conference. With the disruptive impact of emerging technology already being felt, I encourage digital leaders across the consultancy and engineering sector to put 20th June 2019 in their diaries now.’
Brian Nolk, Commercial Director of Victoria Street Capital, the commercial arm of ACE group, added:
‘We’re happy that Tony has agreed to support the digital strand of our Future of Consultancy campaign this year. His industry knowledge and extensive network of contacts will help us to shape up this campaign and feed into our Digital Leadership Conference on 20th June.’
More information about ACE’s ‘Future of Consultancy’ campaign is available at:
On 24 October 2018, Harvey Nash launched the results of its annual Technology Survey at Level39 in Canary Wharf, London. Completed by over 2,000 technology and business leaders, the report is a comprehensive study of the most significant global technology trends and challenges facing businesses in 2019.
Scott Communications co-founder Tony Scott was one of those invited to participate in the on-stage panel, which was chaired by technology podcast founder David Savage. Also appearing on the panel were:
In a well-attended evening of discussion and networking, and with the distraction of a stunning sunset over the City of London visible from the Level39 office high up in One Canada Square, the event was a great opportunity for all present to discuss the key themes of the survey results. These included the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on business and society at large, why innovation is failing in many organisations and whether there is a digital leadership crisis impacting the IT industry.
‘The breadth and depth of questions asked from the floor, and in the networking session afterwards, showed how relevant the survey findings are to businesses today. But what struck me most was that cultural, organisational and human concerns around technology and digital disruption were of equal, if not greater, interest to many of those present.’
Abstract: Digital in its commonly used form today is implicitly understood but not well defined. This blog post suggests a working definition for the word digital when used as either a noun or an adjective that is practical and industry agnostic. Most importantly, it emphasises the human element as being more significant than the technological.
Digital is a word we can’t escape. Some call it hype. Some IT people even wonder what the fuss is about; they’ve been doing digital for years, right? This makes it even more surprising that a good working definition of the word – as used in terms such as digital transformation, digital workplace and digital strategy – is so hard to find.
Digital in the modern disruptive sense is far more than its dictionary definition as a series of 1s and 0s. It also represents a great deal more than digital computing, which has been with us since the advent of the third industrial revolution in the 1960s. Technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate, which is the key driver of today’s fourth industrial revolution. But most remarkable isn’t the technology itself, but the human and business outcomes it makes possible. These have the potential to create a better world for us all; in the wrong hands, of course, the opposite could be just as true.
What distinguishes a digital solution from a more traditional computing one are innovation, novelty and originality. Airbnb, Uber and Facebook could not have been conceived in an earlier period as there was simply no technology frame of reference beforehand to imagine them. Kodak saw its business model as that of a chemical company producing film for cameras, and hence missed the opportunity to be the leader in digital photography. Even Apple failed to foresee music streaming until Spotify disrupted its nascent iTunes download model. Today, digital disruption can occur from unexpected quarters for even the most established organisations. Indeed, there has never been a time before when the pace of technological change has been so far ahead of what society or business transformation can easily accommodate.
To survive in a digital world, organisations need to think differently and more creatively. Having an innovative workplace culture is more important than the underlying technology itself. This is where lean and agile working come to the fore, with concepts such as hackathons, minimum viable products, A/B testing and failing fast being the new norms for leading organisations.
A working definition of digital, whether used as a noun or an adjective, needs to include all the above elements if it is to be meaningful in today’s world. The following is my attempt at this and I hope you find it useful.
Digital refers to the exploitation of innovative technology to create positive human and organisational outcomes. This is achieved through the development of solutions that not long ago would have been unimaginable or thought impossible. Today, such solutions are likely to be based on one or more of the following technologies:
However, digital is about more than technology itself. By drawing on the principles of the lean start-up movement, complemented by a strong focus on human-centred design, digital also impacts organisational culture, ways of working and business models. In this, digital favours agile, iterative and experimental techniques that allow organisations to respond far more quickly to business needs and market opportunities than was possible in earlier eras.
In this definition I’ve aimed to be industry agnostic. The definition could, of course, be adapted as required to serve specific industries or markets. The technology list is not complete, and items in it such as cloud computing and big data analytics are now verging on mainstream. The list is also the least important part of the definition, and the most susceptible to change. Of greatest significance in the definition are the human elements, from outcomes to culture; if you can focus on and succeed with these, relatively speaking, the technology will take care of itself.
This blog post is also published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/definition-digital-tony-scott/.