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The Future Amidst Change: Connected, Collaborative and Creative

The last two years have been unsettling in multiple ways and—in view of Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine—more changes could be around the corner. It seems we will need to reconsider daily routines, business practices and long-term expectations on a regular basis. What the future holds is a toss-up obviously, but long-term trends are becoming apparent. Which aspects of today’s workplace are likely to stay the same—or alternatively—change in the years ahead? Which skill sets are in demand and growing? Let’s consider the possibilities…

Remote Work Comes Out of the Shadows

As millions of employees across the globe hunkered down at home to work due to stay-at-home orders, the number of online collaboration tools exploded to meet the need. The platform Zoom was downloaded 450 million times in 2020. What was surprising was that after a period of adjustment, many employers made the pleasant discovery that with adequate preparation and the right set of conditions, online meetings could ACTUALLY work. Work could get done and—to everyone’s surprise—new levels of productivity could even be achieved. Online collaborative platforms will continue to grow, offer additional services, and become more specialized as work teams continue to convene online in the months and years to come.

Whether remote work is feasible or not depends on several factors, the main criterion being the character of work responsibilities. But remote work is undoubtedly in the future mix of acceptable arrangements. More and more employers are willing to judge employees on job performance, not whether they are physically at the office.

Tech Tools Chip Away at Routine Tasks

Technology continues to grow more sophisticated and offer an ever-broadening array of tools. However, contrary to what many have feared, instead of replacing employees, technology is more likely to take over a task—routine engineering calculations, for example—rather than the higher-level, nuanced analysis often required of professionals. Much like the time-efficient services of a highly skilled personal assistant, the best use of technology complements what we do. It is quick to learn and adapt to ways that works best for us. Even with all the strides that have been made so far with AI and machine learning, robots are still far from making complex decisions. Andrew MacAfee of MIT points out that “machines are demonstrating skills that they never had before.” This is true, but machines are still far from being human. Let’s keep it that way for a while.

Collaborate, Lead and Adapt—Skills that Are More Important Than Ever

As employees move to remote workstations, the emphasis on teamwork and “people” skills accelerates. In fact, excellent communication and interpersonal skills become non-negotiables in the years ahead. Collaboration between individuals, teams and departments is how the best companies work and will continue to work in years to come. Automation and remote workstations may increase within a company, but so too does the need for invaluable “people” skills.

The pandemic managed to shock us into reevaluating our routines. Above all, the adaptive talents of our employees are more important than ever. “Upskilling” is a very real and relevant talent. If the future is anything like the recent past, circumstances can change quickly, and job positions can change with them. The best employees are the ones that are quick to adapt—and lead if necessary—in a way Mike Walsh of MIT refers to as “cognitive flexibility.” The rapidity with which global economies were affected by the pandemic meant the most valuable employees were the ones that were creative, quick to act, and quick to develop or draw on skills essential for that unique moment.

In the future we will likely move away from fixed roles and learn to develop skill sets and mind sets and to think as groups, maximizing the combined resources of a team. As important as the individual spirit is, the team rules.

Building Engineering Software

The Business of Building Engineering Software

Four Ways the Cloud Gives Us an Edge

We’ve come a long way as far as computer processing goes. Barely thirty years ago, enormous main-frame computers and other bulky physical hardware was the norm. Now each day new developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud analytics mean that corporations can operate at an entirely new level, realizing efficiencies that were just a pipedream several years ago.

Above all, emerging technologies can make running a business much easier. Developing world-class engineering software is hard. The question of how best to invest and grow is constantly front and center. Do we hire staff, invest in infrastructure, add to the product line? A business that wants to stay on top struggles to get it right. In the thick of all the decisions that need to be made, here’s one thing I’ve learned: The business that takes advantage of cloud computing is bound to come out ahead. Here are four reasons why software development and cloud technologies are a good fit.

1. Remote Work Doesn’t Slow Us Down

Code development requires programmers to work on their own—and in teams. Access to cloud-based coding platforms means that work done remotely is as efficient (if not more so) as work done physically in the office. Programmers can work autonomously but can also do paired virtual programming, sharing code when necessary to trouble-shoot problems. Code corrections can be deployed immediately to client desktops via a central server. Highly efficient teamwork is possible through programs like Microsoft Team, Visual Studio and others. The pandemic hit us hard and staff were forced to adjust to remote work, but thankfully the company’s “lifeblood”—our ability to develop state-of-the-art software code—didn’t suffer.

2. Our Programmers Take Advantage of Automation

Most professionals—and this includes software developers—have some aspect of their job that is repetitive and tedious. To be competitive, the process of developing code needs to be stream-lined and efficient. What does this mean? More time on content creation—less on editing. More and more cloud platforms offer a variety of code storage, review and analysis tools that eliminate the most mundane tasks associated with code development. To the extent coders are able to focus on the work that really counts, the better. In addition, cloud-based platforms give developers access to multiple coding languages, thus giving our developers yet another professional edge.

3. Our Engineering Clients Get a Leg Up with Data in the Cloud

Nearly all data relating to the physical environment is digitized. However, the enormous quantity of data this represents is impossible to physically store in one location, let alone one workstation. The success of world-class engineering software—and the professionals that use it—depends on access to data stored in the cloud. Our software is built around cloud-based data, some of which is pre-processed in our software applications. In addition, this data is accessible to both international and domestic customers via data servers located around the world. Our software computes and analyzes large data sets and has the capacity to scale this process up or down, per the client’s needs. Again, access to cloud capabilities sets a company apart from the competition.

4. The Cloud Eliminates Computer Hardware. Need We Say More?

Prior to the cloud, software companies were swamped with the costs of buying and maintaining physical hardware—and the software to run it. Since our operations moved to the cloud, we have few expenses associated with hardware maintenance. Server space is increasingly important, but we can easily contract for more. Did we mention data security? Our cloud provider offers security and back-up services. Another perk relates to company records. Here again a company can thrive: Administrative issues are handled seamlessly via cloud-based book-keeping software.

We have seen that at specific times throughout history, an invention or new process can catapult world commerce into a new era of efficacy and performance. The Industrial Revolution’s introduction of mechanized processes is a case in point. Manufacturing was never the same once mechanized processes took over; business protocols were irreversibly altered. Within the field of software development and computing, we could argue that the cloud is having a similar effect. Those that embrace it will realize numerous cost efficiencies and will be poised to surge ahead. The cloud, like the dawn of the assembly line some years ago, offers a competitive advantage to the companies that embrace it.