Vision for Transforming Building Information into Building Intelligence for the Built Space

K. "Suri" Suriyakumar| January 16, 2018

Today, industries of every kind are being disrupted by technology and being challenged to rise above the status quo. But the real estate and construction industries have continued using traditional methodologies to access and distribute information when building new construction projects, or operating and maintaining existing buildings (often referred to as “the built space”).

As disruption inevitably occurs and transforms industries such as construction or real estate, legacy companies often lose their stronghold in the market, while savvy startups emerge with innovative solutions.

Suri
ARC Document Solutions CEO, K. “Suri” Suriyakumar

In serving these industries, ARC is defying the norm. While continuing to operate traditionally as the largest print-driven company in the market, we have boldly invested in technology to spearhead the transformation of how our customers access and distribute their information.

While transformation does not come without risk, we are forging ahead because of the enormous opportunity to reinvent and expand our business.

The Journey of Transformation

For decades, we have been printing and distributing building information for new construction and the built space, fulfilling a critical need throughout the entire building cycle. However, by its very nature, distributing paper documents is not only slow, but becoming increasingly expensive and not environmentally conscious.

Today there is a better way.

ARC’s solutions make documents and information accessible on mobile devices via the cloud, and are revolutionizing how facilities teams use such data in their day-to-day activities and during emergencies. In large and complex facilities in verticals such as Healthcare, Education, Government, Retail, and Hospitality, building managers, owners, and supervisors require real-time access to building information in the office, and in the field.

Our platform is lightning-fast relative to wading through paper, and has allowed us to explore new verticals in the built space where no one has the time – or the desire – to search through paper documents when emergencies or operational failures arise.

It’s a segment of business we could not have penetrated without our investment in technology.

Innovators in Technology

Having embarked on this challenging mission of transforming the way customers access, manage, and distribute documents and information, the technology we have developed is already recognized by renowned international institutions.

In April of 2016, we presented a paper in Santorini, Greece on automatic hyperlinking technology. In November of 2017, we presented four papers in Kyoto, Japan, at the International Association of Pattern Recognition’s (IAPR) International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition. The papers demonstrated our technology’s capability to recognize highly-specific construction graphics with speed and accuracy superior to current standards.

These technology innovations not only allow us to search, manage, and distribute construction information faster, but also equip us to help thousands of our customers in the built space to transition their historical facilities information from paper to digital files stored in the cloud.

Success Factors of Transformation

Developing technology for an industry that still relies on older methodologies to manage information is challenging. It requires an understanding of how both paper and digital files are used, and deep domain knowledge about how the industry accesses and distributes its documents and information.

Customers are unlikely to adopt an entirely digital solution in one fell swoop, no matter how good it is. They simply cannot, given the amount of legacy information that is stored in paper format. Facilities managers are likely to use both hard copy and digital solutions in the foreseeable future.

ARC is in the perfect position to provide both options to its customers during their transition from paper to the cloud since we have decades of experience and knowledge in this industry, as well as the capabilities to incorporate both paper and digital information into our ground-breaking solutions. No one else understands this space like we do, and no one else has invested in technology for this space as we have.

That said, if we want to disrupt the built space, we need to disrupt ourselves. This is daunting for most organizations and is a huge challenge for any legacy company. Disrupting your own business requires courage and determination. We recognized this years ago and tackled this head on.

Finally, developing technology solutions is not a new phenomenon for us. Since 2000 ARC has been developing technology for construction professionals to manage their documents and information online. For more than a decade we have invested in R&D, searching for better ways to deliver value to our Managed Print Services customers with technology that optimizes their entire print environment. ARC has even developed some of the best print drivers for large-format equipment used to reproduce construction drawings.

Combined, our solutions not only improve the way our customers manage their documents and information, but also improve the way they manage their buildings.

The Future of Building Information Technologies

At some point in the near future, documents and information throughout the built space will transform themselves into something much more important than simple drawings, documents or operating manuals: as new technology is adopted, this information will become intelligence.

Documents and information previously used to simply build or manage a facility will become strategic corporate assets that help organizations improve Risk Management, Emergency Preparedness and Life Safety, Compliance, Audit and, of course, Facilities Management.

This is the challenge ARC has chosen to undertake. Leveraging the deep domain knowledge and the experience we have in this space will facilitate the transformation of building information into building intelligence — and ARC will have played a critical role in this incredibly exciting transformation.

About the author

K. "Suri" Suriyakumar President & CEO, ARC

Prior to co-founding ARC in 1989, Suri worked for Aitken Spence & Co. LTD, one of the largest corporations in Sri Lanka. He has served as ARC's President and Chief Executive Officer since 2007 and was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2008.

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