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Virtual Design Methods Highlight Collaboration Opportunities

Stephen Haag, Chief Information Officer, WSP USA

Virtual Design Methods Highlight Collaboration OpportunitiesStephen Haag, Chief Information Officer, WSP USA

Stephen Haag is CIO at WSP USA. As a seasoned CIO/CTO with expertise in rapidly evolving engineering, infrastructure/construction and transportation industries, he has played an instrumental role in creating programs that raise the benchmark for quality, efficiency and profitability.

Our industry thrives on innovation. For example, WSP is aggressively migrating project teams to virtual design and delivery methods. These digital design professionals collaborate daily to address clients’ complex infrastructure challenges.

Similarly, increasing digitalization industry wide is exciting. It allows us to deliver infrastructure solutions more efficiently than ever and showcases industry innovation and enhanced productivity. This progress aligns with WSP’s Future Ready® program, a global initiative that challenges all of us to advise and design programs that are sustainable, prosperous and resilient for our future needs, as well as today.

Opportunities abound

As these advances continue, we are identifying problems using digital tools on which industry professionals rely. 


For example, some workstation-side software tools are common points of entry for security concerns. This can create needless frustration and downtime making it challenging to provide clients with the best experiences possible. Internal information technology departments are often responsible for assessing and correcting these issues, which often means relying on security-only providers to bridge last-mile security gaps.

The opportunity for design and project management software providers to cooperate with network and infrastructure solution providers to ensure entire information ecosystems seamlessly work together is apparent. This must be more efficient than it is currently to patch and respond after a tool has been installed. Working jointly to embrace best-in-class capabilities and understanding from our information security partners would bring about substantive improvement.

Big needs to address

Even as we evolve to provide the industry’s best client experiences digitally, we want to work more closely with technology partners to address how we smoothly design, deliver and complete projects. For example, key processes include required organizational hierarchies. While collaborating online, senior experts must have “the loudest technical voice,” but could they be drowned out by younger, more tech-savvy coworkers without perspectives long careers provide? This is a protocol best addressed by working together during product development, not afterward.

Let’s further enhance how we collaborate today, and not be satisfied with recent advancements. Globally, working from home is now second nature and our digital tools should have operational features to accommodate sophisticated organizational hierarchies.


What we can achieve together

We constantly assess and implement enhancements to our delivery best practices. We urge our technology partners to walk this path with us. The opportunities are vast and include:

 • leading the second generation of automating routine tasks and speeding up analysis cycles,

 • hastening our employee learning and helping them understand our processes, and

 • transferring intelligence from digital design and construction processes into running operations.

Our industry has made great strides on its digital journey. Now, let’s ensure we continue to create great, new experiences for our stakeholders. Let’s keep discovering how artificial intelligence and machine learning improve our processes, delivery and operations. Finally, let’s unlock the potential of virtual reality and balance the return on investment as it matures.

The rewards for our technology partners and the industry jointly working on new capabilities are worth pursuing. This is not to suggest we chase every new technological idea with abandon. Rather, innovation discipline will help us focus on problems that need solving and drive incremental improvements that deliver enviable returns.

Our industry has been a digital force for 40 years and continues to innovate. We want our technology partners to help us evolve into a business that is stronger, more creative and more agile than ever. Let’s join now to create solutions that ensure great client experiences going forward.

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