These three directions/changes are reshaping some traditional practices. I think you should be both aware of them and — most importantly — invest time and resources to become competent enough to know and appreciate the specialized fields (or how to hire/contract with the right people/organizations) to avoid being left out of the big picture.
Take it seriously. Really. Although there are many gaps and incomplete parts of the picture — so that beginning-to-end BIM projects aren’t 100 per cent there in many cases — the integration processes are improving as bandwidth increases, allowing for more collaboration and real-time co-ordination despite geographical barriers. The challenge with BIM is the learning curve and initial capital cost; the drive for most practitioners often occurs when existing clients take on the concept and then “bring” their clients into the fold. You should embrace the change. (One way to meet and connect with people who really appreciate the concept will be to attend/participate in events such as the BIM Forum Oct. 21 – 22 in Orlando. Construction News and Report Group is the media sponsor.)
Web and online content
You should demonstrate your expertise and provide valuable information on your webpages — and have resources potential clients can use and download that go beyond pure promotional or “we built this” materials. Expertise and reputation count for a lot, and most potential clients will — even if they hear about you elsewhere — will probably default to an Internet search before making that crucial first call or sending you an email. You can spend a fortune for crappy services but you can also achieve really amazing results with very limited investments. (I’ve found the price/value gap in the web/internet and content management systems to be all over the map. As an example, I use an email management system from Mailwizz.com that had a one-time fee of $50.00 (plus $20 for a backup module) that delivers effective and spam-proof mailings as good as services that cost that much each month.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI technology relates to the above concepts, of course, but also goes beyond to the integration and “memory” that brings robotic designs and practices to human-type characteristics. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with the cyborg or implants but we are getting into spaces where humans and machines are relating on entirely different levels.
You don’t need to be bleeding edge at this stuff, of course — the AEC industry has never led the charge with technological innovation. But I think we are now at the stage where you need to be ready and engaged, or you will be left in the dust by the early adaptors who get it right.