When you think about the construction industry, cloud computing does not typically come to mind – but Bechtel is changing that. “The cloud is a strategic asset for Bechtel,” said Scott Zimmerman, manager of the company’s enterprise systems, at Autodesk University in November 2012. “But a construction company is not typically thought of as a fast follower to the cloud.”
Bechtel is among the most respected engineering, procurement and construction companies in the world. For 115 years, customers have placed their confidence in Bechtel’s ability to manage large projects in which they have substantial investments — such as the Hoover Dam and the Chunnel.
With more than 53,000 employees working in offices and on projects in dozens of locations worldwide — from Alaska to Australia — the ability to access and collaborate on projects in distant areas and remote sites is absolutely imperative.
In 2002, as part of a cost-reduction initiative, the company created a private cloud to provide project services to their project sites across the globe. This was just the beginning of Bechtel’s progression to the cloud.
Three years ago, Bechtel’s chairman and CEO challenged the company’s IS&T organization to find ways to get workers out of their offices and trailers and into the field. Bechtel moved to the cloud to improve mobility, and it fundamentally changed information delivery across the company.
“We shifted the way information is delivered,” he said. As for increasing mobility, it worked — there were 22,000 mobile app downloads in 2012 and 18,000 mobile app sessions. The shift to mobile devices for information computing and retrieval transformed Bechtel —enabling the company to make information valuable and deliver it where it matters most.
With an information bank as large as Bechtel’s, Zimmerman explained that the cloud requires you to start thinking about data differently. This adjustment can make migration to the cloud difficult for businesses of any size.
“The cloud is about people, process and procedure,” he said. “If you’re going to have a problem, it’s going to be with the people. The change in process and procedure has to be communicated and, most importantly, tailored to your business.”
“There is no perfect cloud, don’t do the cloud because everyone else is,” he said. “Do what makes sense for your business. The cloud is a journey and it’s not about one size fits all.”