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Reflections on the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Insights for major capital projects

With the World Economic Forum currently underway in Switzerland, I reflect on 6 June 2018. On this day, I was honoured to attend a select round-table discussion hosted jointly by the World Economic Forum Infrastructure and Urban Development Industries community, Stanford’s Global Projects Center and the Major Programme Management group at Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

This round table brought together a distinguished group of 30 industry professionals, senior executives, academics and other thought-leaders to discuss the challenges affecting the global construction industry. These discussions were part of a series of strategic dialogues designed to promote a cross-disciplinary agenda of industry reform, bringing together professionals of all disciplines who are committed to transforming the way major capital projects are planned and delivered for the future.

It was a unique forum that encouraged thought-provoking conversation on many concerns that are of key interest to Endeavour Programme, including project delivery models, policy, contracts, project governance, risk, complexity and technologies from the Fourth Industrial Revolution like modularisation, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.

My experience allowed me to contribute reflections from 19 years working in major projects in Australia and Japan, and from my research as an Associate Scholar of Saïd Business School. I shared how mega-projects routinely overrun, how project management methods struggle to adapt to rapid change and complexity, and how the construction industry is slow to innovate. Although, we were able to discuss how technologies such as Artificial Intelligence may contribute to breaking productivity deadlocks in construction.

It was an exciting opportunity for Endeavour Programme to contribute to discussions on issues of global significance for major projects stakeholders at a global level, and we look forward to following the outcomes of this year’s World Economic Forum.