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Hi, I'd like to thank Lisa and Wedge for organising today’s conference and for inviting me to talk. I’m Adam Pope, and I’ve been managing the online environment for Arup’s communities of practice for the last 12 years.
We are an independent firm of designers, engineers, architects, and technical specialists working across every aspect of the built environment. Our creative spark and intellectual independence comes down to us from the firm’s founder, the engineer and philosopher, Ove Arup. We are employee-owned; have 15,000 people in 87 offices across 34 countries, and a billion pound turnover. Enough about us! What I’m going to talk about today is….
Digital and how Arup is dealing with it. First I’m going to outline the biggest threat to organisations and the employee experience today, what strategies you might use to adapt to that challenge, and specifically what Arup is planning. Finally we’re going to deep dive into why and how we launched a product that is core to tackling the issue, it’s impact on the business, and the lessons we’ve learnedSo, what is that threat? I’m talking…
…robots. The artificial intelligence owned by other firms that processes data and arrives at more accurate conclusions faster than your employees can, rendering their existence obsolete. If your organisation can’t rapidly adapt to meet the challenges this presents, your employees just won't be there; and neither will your amazing intranet. For our businesses to stay in business, for our employees to stay employed, we’ll need to make bold, decisive decisions around transforming our organisations. What’s Arup done?
We have always pioneered the use of the most advanced technologies. We were the first to use large scale computing….
…during the construction of the Sydney Opera House. We created the first CAD software and today…
we're leading the first ever trials of self-driving cars. Even the structural, fire, facade, mechanical, and plumbing calculations for….
….this very building were derived by Arup engineers using Arup’s software. [pause]. I feel safe in that knowledge.
We had so many tools to help us do all this great stuff. A database was created listing the Structural ones in 2001. Another for our sustainability tools in 2006. Other siloed databases of software popped up in offices, in regions, on shared drives, all over the show.
Arup were using 8 different site inspection tools, for instance. The licensing, training, and development of each was costing us a bomb and we had no way to bring all the data within them together.
Finally in 2011 the growing number of tools and duplication of them was so great I was asked to create a global library of tools we used on our projects.
After a few false starts on that, in 2015 Arup recognised the need for digital transformation, and our strategy was laid down - to ensure our employees deliver services and products that are digitally enhanced. There’s a long-term plan with several levels to that; but at that strategy’s core, for our professionals to deliver digitally enhanced services, we needed a…
How do we define a tool? Broadly, we’ve specified that any digital technologies that help you undertake a task; are functional and usable; and intentionally shared fall within its scope.
What’s it’s purpose?
Staff needed a place to find great tools to help them do their work Developers needed a place to upload their tools, and to improve and be recognised for their contributions. Our communities of practice needed a place to review tools for their accuracy, build upon existing tools, and recommend the best tools for their respective disciplines Our IT department needed to minimise development, licensing, and training costs Finally, legal needed an authoritative list of Arup’s intellectual property in software. We now have a legal stick to the many knowledge sharing carrots
Senior leadership were convinced, and we secured funding. What did we do?
Transparent and proactive live virtual meetings are regularly held with stakeholders, outlining our vision, sharing mock-ups, and showing how we’ve dealt with their requirements, and taking questions. We follow up questions on Yammer, keeping communication channels open and engaging This time last year, we issued an open tender; ID-Live was selected as the third party developer who delivered a solution using an SQL database in Azure A beta version was released in March 2018 Full functionality released in July 2018; activity has tripled since We’re currently undertaking a massive campaign across the regions to populate it, including a competition for our communities of practice. Prizes are development funding for tools that go into the Tools Register…
So what does it look like?
This is an example of a tool record; a description, hashtags, resource links, version information, which communities have recommended it, images, and a variety of other important metadata.
What’s the impact of this?
Well, it’s early days so far. It’s difficult to assess the return on investment anyhow, and it’s important to note that this is just a foundation for our overall digital transformation strategy. What we do know is that it saves people time finding tools, and our developers are motivated to add their tools to it. I’ve lso developed the following dynamic reports from the system so far… This one highlights the current status of the Tools Register. We’re pleased that the distribution of tools by region and discipline is about equal to the proportion of staff in those areas.
This one shows the activities undertaken across the application. You can see the big jump in usage towards the end of July when phase 2 was released.
…and the current status of adoption efforts by the communities of practice. Lots of work still to do but having the report provides the project with transparency of progress.
What have we learnt? That it’s so important members of the team understand the value of the product, it’s contribution to the firm, and how important their efforts are. It was key to ensuring a product that met the business need was delivered.
There needs to be a clear understanding of the requirements for doing deployments across cloud environments from all involved. This was very difficult to pin down and caused delays during release.
Having the product in separate testing environment, or ‘tenant’, created headaches for our beta release. For the second release, we did testing in a permissioned area of the production environment. This was much easier for testers, and results were more accurate.
We made use of a regional business change networks and marketing teams to promote the product, and are engaging heavily with champions in our communities of practice to do the hard lifting of population.
We’ve added links to saved searches of the Tools Register all over the intranet; we publish a list of all the new tools on the register each week to all staff; and…
…we’ve created an automated process that has enabled hybrid search on the cheap.
Our end goal is for our people to trust that our intranet provides them with a single, cohesive, and comprehensive library of tools to use on projects; and that they’ll be able to easily use those tools to provide polished services and products to clients that are of outstanding technical quality, dynamic, clear, and oozing with the creativity we are famous for.
Thank you very much for listening. My name is Adam Pope, here are my contact details, please get in touch with any questions. .
Digital at Arup — Adam Pope
Global £1bn turnover
• Find great tools
• Share and get feedback on Arup software
• Review, build on, and recommend tools
• Minimize development, licensing, and training costs
• A list of Arup’s intellectual property in softwareNew!