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IGI 2019: A Vision of Our Industry's Future

September 30 2019

TAUC's Industrial Grade Innovation Conference & Expo (IGI), held Sept. 10-12 in Cincinnati, once again brought together a wide cross-section of the union construction and maintenance industry with technology innovators, investors and cutting-edge thinkers. Here's a brief look at what some of our most compelling guest speakers had to say. (Look for complete coverage of IGI in the Fall issue of TAUC's official magazine, The Construction User, coming soon!)

BRAD KEYWELL, entrepreneur and co-founder of seven technology companies. Brad is currently the founder and CEO of Uptake Technologies, an Industrial AI software platform harnessing predictive analytics to deliver outcomes of increased productivity, reliability, safety and cybersecurity to global industry. Uptake was named "Startup of the Year" in 2015 by Forbes, was No. 5 in the 2017 CNBC Disruptor 50, and was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

Brad gave us his vision for the future. It's one where machines – using artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and sensors – will be able to operate with almost no downtime. These machines will actually tell us – their human operators — how to make them more efficient and reliable. "The space we're in is one of the most exciting opportunities for technology to matter that I have ever seen," Keywell said.

DIANA KANDER, author, entrepreneur and innovation consultant. Kander wowed the crowd with a compelling, passionate (and humorous) address about how companies must navigate the rapidly changing technological landscape.

In today's world, a company can go from "top of the heap" to bankruptcy in the blink of an eye because they don't see warning signs that they are behind the technological curve. She urged construction execs to ask the hard questions about why they do what they do, and actively search for strategic blind spots.

Among Kander's suggestions: ask yourself "What does it feel like to be wrong?" and differentiate that from how it feels to be right (hint: if they both "feel" the same, you're in trouble!). How do you know when a particular approach or new idea isn't working?

"We create success metrics, but never failure metrics," Kander pointed out. "We take too long to figure out what isn't working." Kander told contractors to sit down with their teams and answering two questions: "When will you know that it isn't working?" and "How will you know?"

By fleshing out what failure looks like – and not running away and hiding from the prospect of doing something that doesn't work out – your company will have a much better shot at surviving in the long term.

MARK MAYBURY, Chief Technology Officer for Stanley Black and Decker (parent company of TAUC Legacy Partner DEWALT). In his position as CTO, Mark manages a team across the company's businesses and functions and advises on technological threats and opportunities, as well as provides access to all elements of the global technology ecosystem. Prior to joining Stanley Black & Decker, Mark spent 27 years at The MITRE Corporation, where he held a variety of strategic technology roles.

Mark gave a wide-ranging talk on how technological innovation is impacting SBD's global business. It was fascinating to hear how aggressively the various business units are embracing new ideas.

"For the first time in the history of our company we have an integrated, corporate-wide — across our $15-billion corporation — strategy for what technology we're going to prioritize based on growth and profitability," Maybury noted.

SCI-FI PANEL. To close out IGI 2019, we held the first ever State of Construction Innovation – Finance and Investment (SCI-FI) panel with a distinguished group of venture capitalists and industry experts in both finance and the construction innovation space. In a lively discussion, the panel talked about some of the innovation and tech they're investing in (and why), and also how those investments could lead to significant breakthroughs for our industry.

Participants in the SCI-FI Panel included:

  • Adrian Fortino, Partner, Mercury Fund, Partner
  • Curtis Rodgers, Principal, Brick & Mortar Ventures
  • Kevin Barnes, VP & Managing Director, Ferguson Ventures
  • Helge Jacobsen, VP, United Rentals, Inc.
  • Murali Joshi, Associate, ICONIQ Capital Investment  
  • Paul Lyandres, Chief Financial Officer, Procore (moderator)
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