Is high resolution 3D modelling setting a new benchmark for asset management?

As someone involved bringing new technologies to market, I am deeply interested in the mindset of people on the other side of the fence. Those that are weighing up the value of new technology and wondering “if” and “how” they might implement a new solution. I am interested in how willing they are to question assumed knowledge and move towards new technology.

 

Before I get into that though, quick disclaimer. I will need to use a buzzword during the next few minutes so my humble apologies for that.

Let’s get it out of the way… disruption.

 

I am sure you will agree that “disruption” is very much a part of the corporate vernacular, but like many overused turn of phrase it has lost much of its meaning. “Disruption” is used in equal proportions by ambitious founders seeking to become the Uber of the world and fearful incumbents, looking to guard against becoming yet another SearsKodak or Nokia.

On the other hand “Innovation” is thrown around as the salvation to any problem and often at times the antidote to disruption.

This article is more about “disruption” than “innovation, and by disruption, what I really mean is industry transformation; the pressures and opportunities faced by companies when a new technology arrives.

The best way to illustrate how seemingly small decisions can alter the impact a new technology has on a business is through a simple example.

Consider the task of maintaining and managing industrial warehouse roofs.

Humans have been maintaining warehouse roofs for tens of decades and there is a strong and established belief system about how it works and what needs to be done and when.

Now, imagine a technology comes along that allows the roof to be visually inspected faster, cheaper and at much higher detail than traditional methods. This technology means that the entire roof is captured at millimetre resolution, whereby you can see corrosion on the head of any individual bolt on the entire roof.

This technology involves drones, data and other appealing “innovative” technologies.

As an asset manager, the obvious way to view this new technology is in strong reference to the existing frameworks of industrial roof maintenance. From this perspective we see a technology that allows us to do the same job (visually inspect the roof) but cheaper and more safely.

Let’s say that the manager of this particular roof has a firm belief that on average, warehouse roofs require inspection every 3 years. Knowing this, the manager decides to incorporate the new technology into the existing framework and arrange for drone based inspections every 3 years, saving money and hassle avoiding people getting up on the roof.

Make no mistake, this is a great win, but an asset manager who thinks this way is already falling into a classic trap inherent in disruptive technology. They are finding it hard to see what the tech is capable of independently of how things are currently done.

As a provider of new technology, my advice to this manager would be to consider what they may gain by incorporating this technology outside of their existing framework of beliefs. Prevailing wisdom might be to inspect every 3 years but it is worth asking what you stand to gain if you deployed drone and data collection technology annually.

That is the kind of thinking that is really needed within industries with heritage and proven methods, when faced with new ways to do things.

As a closing thought, I will return to that word – disruption. Putting aside all the buzz and corporate-speak, one way to define disruption is the setting of a new benchmark when it comes to solving an existing problem or doing an existing job.

Kent Boehm is the Executive General Manager of Trendspek.

A drone data provider specialising in solutions for the asset management industry.