The new frontier in the built environment

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Stephen Mee


Stephen Mee


Capability , Digital Transformation , Future Thinking
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Matthew Harris, Managing Director of RLB in NSW explores how convergence will affect the built environment and how we best respond to a now rapidly evolving and complex market.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that projects were simpler and expectations were more easily managed. Companies could grow organically to meet expanding needs and demands of clients. Today, globalisation and 24/7 markets are the new playing field. Industry convergence and disruption is occurring as a necessary way to respond to a now very dynamic and complex market.

What is industry convergence?

We hear daily how industries are ‘disrupted’ through the displacing of established market-leading firms, products, and alliances. So, what is the concept of industry convergence? Well convergence is a term that can perhaps be best defined as the ‘blurring’ of boundaries between industries, induced by ‘converging value propositions, technologies and markets’. For example, information and communication technologies – ‘smartphones’, or biotech and pharmaceutical
industry – ‘biopharmaceuticals’.

How will convergence affect the built environment?

It has been widely acknowledged that when sectors do converge, new, game-changing innovation is the result; creating opportunities for some,
and threats for others. In the Built Environment sector, successful convergence in our sector relies on an agile response to market needs, through innovative partnerships that magnify
the benefit of the solution.

Take for example the government as a key client for our sector. They are not just relying on the private sector to build buildings. They are entrusting our industry to deliver cities; smart, connected, vibrant and diverse places, where we can get around unhindered, and connect on a global scale.

Two examples of where industry convergence is already occurring include:

1. The Public Private Partnership (PPP) delivery model brings together multiple capabilities and specialisations, under a single umbrella – financiers, lawyers, quantity surveyors, engineers, architects, planners, IT specialists, media, marketing etc.

2. Urban regeneration projects require us to think about integrated infrastructure, private and public realm connectivity, smart grids, sustainability, vibrancy, and density, bringing in experts and industries that specialise in these fields.

Innovation and collaboration

Beyond this, think of the ‘mega-trends’; an ageing population, social media and technology, infrastructure, and sustainability. These trends underpin the
business strategies for government and

our private clients. They will all require a multidisciplinary approach, calling on innovation and collaboration.

‘Fueling our industry through convergence’ can be found on page 38 of the 2018 edition of Perspective, a compilation of insights from members of the RLB team around the world.