Compared to early adopters on the road to digital transformation, the infrastructure industry, meaning the “built environment” consisting of the human-made places and spaces in which we live, work, and play, could be considered a laggard. But it is a laggard with enormous market opportunity—to the tune of $21T annually worldwide and an annual spend of $1.4T in the U.S., representing 4% of US GDP.
Many of the strategic technologies that we know well from deployments in high-tech, finance, and other industries, such as AI/ML and data analytics, are now permeating the infrastructure industry, as are other unique technology enablers specific to architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC).
There’s a conversation and a convergence occurring whereby startups are becoming more educated about the industry and AEC firms are getting more digitally savvy. AEC firms are doing this both to take the grit out of the system across their internal processes and to innovate how they deliver services to clients. And venture capital firms are funding infrastructure-specific startups in construction and real estate tech who are tackling hard problems in the industry.
As this conversation and digitization continues, here are ten strategic technology trends that I believe will be transformative for the infrastructure and AEC industry in 2022:
AI/ML – As with most other industries, AI/ML is one of the most transformational technologies for the infrastructure industry, featuring at the top of many organizations’ emerging technology heat maps. In 2022, use cases will continue to expand into transportation, urban planning, and building information modeling (BIM) and across a wide range of corporate functions from sales and marketing, to finance and HR. In the BIM space, ClearEdge3D, for example, employs AI to help automate tedious scan-to-BIM workflows such as as-built pipes and other structural elements. For internal corporate processes, AI/ML will be applied to use cases as diverse as win-loss analysis, work order tracking, contract workflows, and MarTech.