Digital transformation: Evolve or die!

Digital transformation

Think digital transformation is just a passing fad you don’t need to worry about? Think again, says John Eynon

We live in strange times. Trump, Brexit, Remoaners, Leavers, the FTSE at an all-time high, Leicester won the Premier League, Boris as the potential PM, floods, hurricanes, ISIS; it seems dramatic, life-changing events are happening almost every day.

In our industry it is no different – or is it?

Was it Einstein who said something like the definition of insanity is always doing just the same things and expecting different results? “Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

Is this really what we’ve all been doing for decades?

Eeking out little improvements here and there on a system that’s basically broken and the equivalent of a horse and cart. Meanwhile, the digital equivalent of a Lamborghini is racing over the hill to obliterate industry life as we all know it.

We see it every day, symbolised by those cunning smart phones that are now inseparable from our anatomy. They are changing our lives. They’ve changed our culture and behaviours in the space of 10 years. They symbolise technology and connection and are driven by data. We are only just beginning to see what a data-driven industry can look like.

For those who have vision and insight, all the signs are out there. The tectonic plates not only of our industry but society at large are shifting beneath our feet. But who cares? Not, it seems, most people, who hope life will go on just as it is right now.

Only it won’t, will it?

For all kinds of reasons, within a generation society and, as a consequence, our industry will be transformed inside and out. Whether we like it or not.

Whether we resist or not. THIS IS INEVITABLE. The only question is do we respond, adapt and evolve or accept our fate?

Those surfing the digital wave right now or just starting out will be in a good place. If there is a lesson here then it is that change, technological advance and digital disruption are here to stay, and are a constant now.

So deal with it.

Adapt, respond and evolve to succeed. Or die. Famous names have gone out of business. Many more will follow. Digital skills are already at a premium in the marketplace. Careers and jobs are at stake.

I really think we have reached a point where this cannot be ignored or kicked into the long grass or the ‘too difficult’ pile any longer. We need to embrace the digital future of our industry. And it would be nice if the great and the good stood up and made it clear to everyone that there is a great future to be had if we get on with it. And work together.

Yes, careers will change, businesses will change, jobs will be changed – and lost. But the opportunity is for more new businesses, new opportunities, new jobs and ways of working.

Of course, if disruptive change and innovation is the new normal then this opens up scary possibilities. We have barely begun to tap into what data power will do to our industry but soon it will become very clear. New business models. No baggage. Driven by data.

The possibility of an Uber, or AirBnB, or Amazon, only this time operating in the built environment, grows more certain every day. And overnight our industry will be changed into those that can and do, and those that can’t, won’t or don’t care. Just like music, digital imaging and media, automotive, aerospace and manufacturing before their digital transformation. It’s the same story.

Game over – literally – for some. Find a new game! A new way of working, a new business model, a new USP, based on digital transformation.

Worried? You should be!

Not convinced? OK, time will tell. The longer you leave it, the more you will have to do in a shorter timescale at greater expense. Training, software, hardware, new skills: it all takes time, which is running out. Your peers and competitors will be long gone ahead of you. But hey, you don’t have to believe me. Of course, this will all go away soon. Or will it?

Your call, buddy!


PS You can get help here:

PPS Notice that I didn’t mention BIM or Level 2 at all!

PPPS Apologies to Mark Farmer – Modernise or Die!

John Eynon is a journeyman Architect, Design Manager and BIM Champ. You can catch up with him at



John Eynon


Open Water Consulting

Tel: +44(0)7702 956 965

Twitter: @56JONTS


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