May 09, 2005
What are Core Competencies in AEC? - BE Conference 2005 Preview
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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About this Issue….

A weekly news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

Welcome to AECWeekly! Many companies are beginning to question what their core competencies are. Find out what this means to AEC companies in this week's interview with Thomas Koulopoulos, President and Co-Founder of the Delphi Group, a Boston-based technology management and advisory firm.

Next week I'll be at the BE Conference 2005 in Baltimore. Take a look at this week's preview of that event, which will include some exciting product announcements and a keynote by Tom Peters, author of Thriving on Chaos and many other titles.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Awards, Appointments, and Upcoming Events.

AECWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

What are Core Competencies in AEC?

By Susan Smith

Thomas J. Koulopoulos,

president and co-founder,

The Delphi Group

Thomas Koulopoulos is President and Co-Founder of the Delphi Group, a Boston-based technology management and advisory firm. Named by InformationWeek as one of the most influential information management consultants, Koulopoulos has propelled the company to become an independent advisor on technology trends to the IT industry.

In a recent interview I asked him about the greatest challenges for the future of the AEC industry. [Incidentally he will be speaking at a conference for the

What is topical right now for the AEC industry?

Production offshoring which has been with us for quite some time, is now increasingly in engineering. If you look at Parsons E&C, recently acquired by Worley Group Limited for US$245 million, what truly makes us unique is what I call core competencies of the organization. In many cases this doesn't even involve our ability to construct. It is purely our ability to manage the project. There's something about the way that we gain efficiencies, cost savings, high integrity in our design based on the way we manage the project. And it's really causing a lot of companies to reconsider what their core competency is.

Today if anyone in engineering is asked what their true core competency is they would say construction. Increasingly they are revisiting that and asking what is their core competency, and in the global environment, how do we sustain and protect that competency? Do we have local partners that deliver the construction? Is it really our ability to do the construction or the ability to manage that process that leads up to the construction and then lives through the construction process that gives us uniqueness and value? The core of that is that folks are spending more time and attention on knowledge management. How do we share what we know? How do we go through the discovery process to access
what we know? We need to use what we know to better manage the process.

Are there examples of this?

In Boston we have the “Big Dig” - possibly the largest public works project in the history of the U.S. It is taking the central highway artery that used to run through Boston and submerging it below ground. There's a lot that has happened from the engineering standpoint that has been challenging. Boston was built on swamplands, so a lot of the activity involves pumping out all this sludge and building bridges on top of that. It's gone from a 4$ billion to a $100 billion project over the years that it's been under construction. A constant series of engineering failures and problems have occurred and many of them could not have been adequately predicted because a lot of them were
being done for the first time. So engineering companies are asking themselves, is the failure in the construction methods, in the quality of the construction, is the failure in the design, is the failure in the way we manage the process?

Basically what they're coming back to is the failure is basically how they manage the process. The quality of construction was as good as it could have been, the design and architecture were well thought out, but the process itself could have been better managed. The process involved multiple participants. Knowledge management and process management are the areas in which we see the most attention being paid in the engineering community and the construction industry. And it is probably going to become more of an issue as globalization becomes more of a factor.

These companies have to share information across a broader geography. They've got a lot of cultural issues in doing that but also a lot of technical issues. How do I access best practices? How do I best share what I know about a certain type of construction? Just storing and sharing and accessing and discovery present a huge challenge for these companies. Once they acknowledge that their role is to manage the process, the more important the knowledge will become there.

BE Conference 2005 Preview

Tom Peters, author of "Thriving on Chaos"
There is a lot to look forward to at this upcoming
BE Conference 2005 held in Baltimore May 8-12. Bentley will announce its latest version of MicroStation,

Keith Bentley, President and CEO of Bentley Systems, Inc.
called "Mozart" after the composer (I'm not sure why-possibly because of the genius behind it?). Tom Peters, author of such popular inspirational titles as Passion for Excellence and Thriving on Chaos will give the conference keynote. At BE Conference 2005, Peters will discuss how AEC can benefit from creating what he calls “WOW! Projects.” Executive keynotes will be presented by Greg Bentley, Keith Bentley, Bhupinder Singh and Buddy Cleveland, as inform attendees about all the latest Bentley products and solutions.

Also the conference will feature one day single track seminars on topics including 3E-government, geospatial research, and building research. Sessions will feature topics such as building, geospatial, civil, platform, training services and plant design. Best Practice sessions will be offered for all industry groups.

A Welcome Reception will be held Sunday night, May 8. BE Awards of Excellence will be presented at a special awards ceremony on Monday, May 9.

I'll be attending the conference from Sunday evening through Tuesday, and will focus on all AEC topics.


Graphisoft, creator of ArchiCAD and the Virtual Building approach to building design, announced the addition of Consulting For Architects, Inc. (CFA), a provider of staffing, training and consulting services for the architecture and building design community, to its reseller family.

CFA, a former Autodesk Premier Systems Center firm, will sell and support Graphisoft ArchiCAD in the New York metropolitan area, bolstering Graphisoft's presence and ability to meet the rising demand in that region. Led by founder David McFadden, CFA will also offer in-house training and implementation support to local customers.


Meridian Systems(R) and A+ Integrated Solutions announce that the City of Dallas, Texas, has implemented the Prolog(R) Application Suite for municipal construction, development and maintenance. During a time of lean city budgets nationwide, Dallas, the ninth largest city in the United States, has chosen Prolog to reduce rising personnel costs and provide improved services to Dallas citizens.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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