By Burcin Kaplanoglu, Executive Director, Innovation Officer, Oracle Construction and Engineering
Advances in technology are rapidly reshaping the way the construction industry manages projects and tackles challenges such as safety, productivity, quality assurance and collaboration across multiple teams. While new technologies such as drones, Augmented Reality (AR), Machine Learning (ML), and next-generation Building Information Modeling (BIM) offer new operational improvements and insights, many companies are not sure where to start — or what the impact of change might be.
While the world is buzzing about technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), they can be daunting to implement for construction business owners who are still struggling to understand their business benefits. Engineering and Construction (E&C) is one of the least digitized industries despite increasingly complex projects. The need for digital transformation is increasingly apparent.
These new technologies — along with their ability to yield and analyze tremendous amounts of data — offer significant opportunities to transform project delivery by improving visibility, efficiency, and standardization, and Oracle saw an opportunity to help organizations experience them in an innovative way. Unveiled in August 2018 — and recently expanded in October 2019 — the Oracle Industries Innovation Lab aims to do just that.
The Lab is not just your typical demo experience. It is a unique, simulated worksite that features a realistic E&C working environment (down to the trailer), where visitors can interact with connected tools, drones, autonomous vehicles, sensors, and other technologies from Oracle and its ecosystem partners that transform the worksite. The Lab enables immersive experiences that allow visitors from project — and asset — intensive organizations to see first-hand how these new solutions are bringing operational improvements and data-driven insights to life.
One of the biggest goals the Lab set out to achieve was to create an environment where E&C business owners and professionals could familiarize themselves with new technologies and tools in a no-risk environment — a far better solution than purchasing the technologies and trying to implement them on their own with little knowledge of how to do so. The Lab is an important step towards merging the experimental with the practical, enabling contractors and industry partners to truly experience the power of the connected job-site for the first time.
Engineering and Construction is a fast-moving, results-oriented industry, and even minor setbacks can cause major delays and unexpected costs. More advanced solutions are needed to help predict and mitigate these risks despite how unpredictable job-sites can be. As digital transformation begins to permeate the industry, the E&C industry is slowly shedding its low-tech image and giving rise to construction-specific solutions to connect the job-site, enable remote visibility, and provide data-driven insights that help the industry build safely and more efficiently.
With the goal of showcasing technology solutions that enable collaboration and unlock critical project intelligence, Oracle turned to several partners to help develop the Lab experience. Key partners, including Assemble Systems, Assignar, Bosch, HERE Technologies, Industrial Training International, Jovix, nPLan, Raken, Realwear, Reconstruct, Sensera Systems, Smartvid.io and Triax Technologies — as well as customers — came together with Oracle to develop a collective vision and create experiences to address the needs and challenges of E&C organizations.
This year, Oracle recognized an opportunity to expand beyond the E&C industry to help organizations in other industries realize the benefits of digital transformation to solve complex business issues and accelerate customer success across more use cases.
As visitors from the E&C sector have been able to work together in a realistic worksite environment to test how leading-edge solutions can positively impact the construction industry, Oracle plans to feature similar simulated environments for Utility and Communications solutions.
Oracle Utilities will explore new concepts driving the future of energy — from improving the way companies manage loads on their grids to using artificial intelligence, IoT and digital-twin technologies to improve network operations and speed outage restoration.
On the Communications side, the Lab plans to leverage Oracle Communications’ mobile in-app and web-based digital engagement using contextual voice, HD video and screen sharing capabilities through its Oracle Live Experience Cloud to demonstrate how organizations can modernize customer experience and field service using enhanced digital engagement channels.
The digital and physical worlds are continuing to blur across worksites and industries, and simulated worksites like the Lab are crucial in helping industries embrace these changes. The Lab has already welcomed more than 650 visitors, and it’s not stopping there. Oracle will collaborate with its fast-growing ecosystem of best-in-class technology partners and customers to showcase sophisticated, proven solutions for visitors and help deliver the Lab’s vision. The decision to expand the Lab environment gives customers and partners alike a place to co-innovate with tools and technologies that empowers them to use data to create new business opportunities and revenue streams.
Oracle is eager to showcase how new technologies — such as 5G — will soon play an important role in how organizations across E&C, Utilities and Communications leverage new technologies, improve business outcomes and drive digital transformation.