George Heck
George Heck Jun 06, 2018

Technology is reshaping the world of asset management (and the world at large) faster than anyone could have anticipated. To get an idea of where our industry might be headed, Tenna asked three experts to share their ideas on upcoming changes that will rock our industry in the near and distant future.

Today: Positive Impacts of Asset Management to Key Stakeholders

As an experienced asset manager, George Heck offers an in-the-moment perspective on the current state of digital asset management. He defines assets not only as machinery, equipment and trucks, but also inventory items that are used and re-used on infrastructure jobsites and projects.  Therefore, proper accounting for all assets in order to prepare accurate estimated bid proposals requires the willingness and discipline to adopt the correct asset tracking platform for the business.

An asset management strategy should include provisions that will effectively net the most utilized asset base with the greatest return on investment to provide future work. Asset management should be implemented on a field level to capture the true costs of assets as they enter a project and are tracked throughout the project. They can then be evaluated for future use elsewhere within the organization or disposed of completely.

This base level is where a comprehensive asset tracking platform can create the efficiencies in collecting the crucial data, whether through manual process or by autonomous means. Key areas impacted by accurate asset management include specific project or jobsite profitability, but this flows upward into specific areas of accounting, procurement and eventually into cost projections in estimating future work.  Successes achieved with effective asset management can include:

  • Reduced spending on unnecessary assets (equipment and truck) rentals or purchases
  • Reduced spending for inventory items currently on project, but not accounted for
  • Reduced spending on repairs of under and non-utilized equipment and trucks
  • Increase of cash for disposing of certain under and non-utilized equipment and trucks
  • Reduced insurance cost dependent on the amount of reduction in asset base
  • Reliable and safer equipment being properly utilized to maintain cash flow levels

Increased automation of data into an asset management system allows companies to focus on the core strengths of building infrastructure projects.  Digitization of the daily and weekly construction processes will continue to increase and be part of a system of continuous improvement, including more integrations with different software tools for accounting, real-time market valuations and disposition.  A combination of accurate and efficient asset management will yield recognizable returns from the jobsite office trailer into the executive decision-making suite.

Tomorrow: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Autumn Braswell, Chief Operating Officer for iQor, predicts that AI and IoT are beginning to converge in a way that will radically reshape the entire business landscape. When used together, the two technologies can provide an unprecedented level of support that allow businesses to unlock the full value of IoT and remain competitive. IDC, a global marketing intelligence firm, estimates that more than 80 percent of IoT spend through 2020 will be on B2B applications and use cases, becoming a primary driver of digital transformation.

One challenge with IoT-enabled applications is their ability to deliver service, product, customer support, business and operational data at a faster rate than ever. With so much data coming in, companies need new processes for gathering, analyzing and comprehending it all. Investing in AI will enable businesses to realize the full potential of IoT by housing the ability to make sense of the data and draw new insights that can be used for a competitive advantage.

For example, IoT will have a large impact on customer service, particularly in the areas of understanding where failures stem from, identifying customer issues and determining what product components need to be replaced. By applying AI technology to all the data and insights generated by IoT, businesses will be able to accurately predict product failures, the number of calls a specific call center will receive, and other service-related metrics and act accordingly.

Scott Amyx of Amyx Ventures agrees that disruptive technologies rarely work in isolation. In fact, he points out that it’s the convergence of technologies that drives up the innovation curve to a near-perfect 90-degree slope.

IoT plays a critical role in several ways, starting with the ability to quantify inanimate and animate objects to build a real-time data matrix of the world. From the environment and natural resources to buildings, cars, cities, homes and people, IoT will generate incredible volume, variety and velocity of data. That data will then feed the neural networks to understand patterns and create probabilistic predictions of future scenarios. That, in turn, will inform businesses, governments, and other organizations to make real-time, fact-based decisions that drive up optimization, productivity and efficiency while squeezing out cost and mitigating potential risks.

In addition to the symbiotic relationship between IoT and AI, the shift to distributed and decentralized computing networks is also driving the move to a fully connected world. For example, the long-established television paradigm of distributing network-created content to the masses via broadcast and cable is rapidly giving way to real-time streaming and user-generated content in a many-to-many distribution model. In the world of computing and data, we are seeing a similar shift from centralized (on premise servers, data centers, cloud) to decentralized. Not only is data being generated on decentralized IoT, it is also being stored and processed locally (wild fog).

Specialized AI chips are enabling decentralized machines and gadgets to run AI algorithms locally without ever needing to make API calls (Lambda functions to AWS) or roundtrips to process, store or disseminate. Meanwhile, wireless sensor networks are now being used to access distributed computational power, memory, storage, bandwidth and features of edge devices to perform jobs. All of which has huge implications for telecomm business models, cloud computing giants, privacy, data ownership and security. Working in unison, IoT, AI and blockchain will create a hyper-connected world that where every action and inaction will be quantified down to the iota. Think the Matrix – minus the human batteries.

Beyond: The Future of Humanity

According to Scott, the fourth and subsequent industrial revolutions will be both good and bad, depending on which segment of the population you belong to.

Advances in technology are about driving down costs. Over time, everything from genome sequencing to hard drive costs shrink to a tiny fraction of what they used to be. This benefits society by providing a much larger benefit for the same relative purchasing power, allowing us to consume more and enjoy more leisure as productivity frees up more time and resources. Impending technology disruptions will also create unimaginable new industries and jobs that we can't begin to fathom today. Who would have thought a decade ago that Snapchat, an AR photo filter/chat app, would be worth billions while employing engineers to create AR filters for selfies?

But there are always two sides to every story. In this case, the imminent net job loss from artificial intelligence, robotics and the fourth industrial revolution is already impacting income inequality, leading to a rise in populism and nationalism around the globe. AI-driven cyber-physical automation is expected to displace 50% to 80% of the human workforce by 2030. As the pace of convergence of exponential technologies reaches a near-vertical slope, the trend of human displacement is unstoppable.

For the structurally unemployed and underemployed, this portends a bleak future with limited options. Only those with highly specialized Ph.Ds. in fields that create, train and maintain AI, robotic and advanced scientific and technical systems may have a place in the world of hyper-automation. Furthermore, as AI continues to master new niches, it will amass a superset of capabilities that will not only replace tasks but holistic job functions. Sooner than we can imagine, no senior executive, policymaker or subject matter expert will be safe.

A bleak picture, perhaps. But in his second book, “The Human Race: How Humans Can Survive in the Robotic Age,” Scott offers hope by proposing a vastly different, out-of-the-box solution called the Human Currency. A global economy and a cryptocurrency based on human-to-human empathy services, Human Currency will build the needed resiliency and sustainability into the system to ensure the viability of the human race for centuries to come.

Without question, the future will look very different from today. In the meantime, you can count on Tenna for cost-effective asset management solutions that will help your business will thrive in tomorrow’s industrial world.

About George Heck