24 March 2020

In what seems like just a few weeks, the world has changed. We face a threat, the likes of which we have rarely seen. Governments are taking drastic actions to limit the spread of the virus to protect the vulnerable. At the same time, this risks hurting even more through economic damage. In China, GDP fell by over 20% in February and most economies are looking at similar declines.

Individual businesses and sectors are also facing the challenge of how to maintain activity during either social distancing, self-isolation or complete lock-down. For many, this means working from home. For others, new ways of working.

It is the latter that has caught my attention. The cancellation of the Geneva Car Show sent many of the worlds largest car manufacturers into a spin (no pun intended!). These use these lavish and costly events to launch new models, targeting both the attendees and the media with ‘the big reveal’. The cancellation led to some frantic reworking of the launch plans. With no option for social gathering, the option was to go digital – a cloud based launch.

The result was a surprise to all. The digital launches were incredibly successful, reaching a much larger audience than could ever have attended the original event. Yes, you could not see the real car physically, but digital offered many other benefits. The digital launch could not replicate exactly the physical, but could offer many new opportunities.

This begs the question – will the physical car shows survive the Covid crisis? The BBC have an interesting article on this: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51700936

We can then follow this line of thinking to our current physical ways of working within the construction industry. Yes, at some point, we have to get physical – a built asset needs to be built (assuming demand for those assets remains). But what about those processes before construction / assembly begins?

Distributed working is going to be the new normality for us all for the next few weeks and months. We will get used to the benefits and limitations – the differences between physical co-location and virtual. It will open our eyes to new ways of collaborating to get whatever the activity is done. We will find that installed software tools limit our ability to work together, whilst the cloud based tools support us where ever we are. From virtual meetings on Teams, Zoom and Facetime, to virtual shared work spaces, we are changing the way we work. It is no longer a test or a trial, it is reality.

For NBS, we invested in the NBS Chorus cloud based specification tool specifically to support distributed teams, across multiple organisations. Our new NBS Source platform adds the high quality product data to the mix, all linked by to standards and technical information on the CIS platform. Our Connected Construction Information is there to help you deliver your projects, wherever you are.