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Role Of A CIO Is Evolving

by Amar Hanspal - SVP-IPG Product Group, Autodesk August-2015

1) How do you view the overall evolution of the technology landscape that you serve?

30+ years ago, Autodesk helped usher in the Era of Documentation, where the focus of design technology was the production of documents-files that described what was to be produced. Two decades later, the focus of design technology was the development of intelligent models that contained useful data to simulate physical and performance characteristics-think BIM and Digital Prototyping. This was the Era of Optimization. We are now entering what we're calling the "Era of Connection." In the Era of Connection, the focus of design technology will be the interconnection of data so that designers and engineers can accurately understand and represent building and infrastructure outcomes.

2) What have been some of the most influential trends the industry has witnessed?

The shift to cloud computing has been a game changer in the storage and sharing of vast quantities of data, and has led to new business models. With these advances in technology, today we can do more in the next 10 years than most companies have been able to do in their lifetime; the speed of ideas is outpacing our ability to implement them.

2) What are some of the persistent challenges involved from your standpoint that are yet to be addressed? How do you think they can be addressed?

When it comes to the architecture, engineering and construction industry specifically, collaboration and productivity continue to be a challenge. The technology exists to help solve this challenge today (building information modeling or BIM), but it also requires a change in mindset to move from paper-based, analog tools to digital tools. Construction output is set to grow from 10 trillion in 2015 to 20 trillion in 2020, yet 58 percent of time spent on construction sites is non-productive. Utilizing building information modeling (BIM) technology has shown to drastically improve productivity a recent study showed an increase from 33 to 66 percent of projects finishing within their budget and on time when BIM was used. High quality construction results require collaboration and just in-time information throughout the project. Using BIM technologies, that include cloud and mobile solutions, engineers can find and address issues early on during the design phase. In the construction phase, high quality planning drives tighter handoffs and shorter schedules. BIM gives teams easy access to all their critical information, both 2D and 3D, and can bind quality issues to location for the earliest possible resolution; and workers on the job site can quickly respond to and resolve issues using their smartphones. What this all means is that all project data is connected, ensuring that teams can work the way they need to today regardless of where they are, collaborating on a project across time zones and moving information seamlessly from the office to the field and back. The quality results are clear; driving better construction, lower risk and increased profits.

3) How integral is the role of a CIO here, in positioning themselves to tackle such issues? How do you see the task of a CIO evolve over the next couple of years?

Today there aren't many types of business that don't require the support of technology to some degree and today's CIO is often focused beyond the traditional functions of operations and cost reduction. CIOs are uniquely positioned to develop and drive innovation and influence cultural change. I believe the role of the CIO must evolve from being the chief information officer to being the chief innovation officer.

4) What are the major pain points troubling Entrepreneurs at this point time? How can those be addressed?

Today, entrepreneurs have increased access to capital, talent, and processing power, ensuring designs and products of the future can come from individuals, companies of any size, and from any part of the world. In addition open source technology, processing power and storage in the cloud and the cost of development are making an entirely new class of ideas possible for the first time. Just like the dot com boom of the 90's, a dorm full of grad students is just as likely to change the world as a multinational manufacturing firm if not more so. So I think a pain point for entrepreneurs is that there is an ever increasing amount of competition.

5) As a Senior Level Executive, how do you drive innovation at such a demanding time? What would be your approach?

Innovation is certainly fundamental to Autodesk and should be fundamental for any company competing in today's global market. Its key that leadership communicates a clear vision, as it should define and set the context for the role innovation will play in enabling growth. Also don't wait to reward only the end result, recognize incremental steps along the way & grant employees permission to fail.