March 16, 2018

Future Shock

Future Shock

A startup called ICON just unveiled its solution to the housing scarcity around the world: 3D-printed homes. The Austin-based robotics construction company says it can create its 650-square-foot houses in 12 to 24 hours. It just revealed one of its homes at South by Southwest, the film, interactive media and music festival in Austin. ICON is partnering with a nonprofit to create a community of about 100 homes in El Salvador.

It’ll probably be a long time before 3D-printed homes go mainstream and any of us are living in them, but this is a trend worth keeping an eye on. It could eventually change the way we live and work in mind-boggling ways – and create new opportunities for many firms.

Consider what it could mean for residential construction companies if 3D-printed homes catch on. Many companies will eventually see exciting new opportunities open up as 3D-printing technology becomes more accessible to them. In addition to traditionally-built homes, they may eventually find themselves introducing products that are hard for us to imagine now, like 3D-printed mansions.

The use of 3D-printing could also have a ripple effect. Vendors who serve construction companies may find they are getting orders for novel types of building materials, creating fresh revenue streams. Subcontractors may be asked to do new types of work, allowing them to expand their offerings. Real estate brokers will have fresh and innovative products to market. The list goes on.

Even in accounting, 3D-printed homes could have a huge effect. Our clients will undoubtedly need advice related to this new type of construction.

3D-printing is just one example of the many types of technologies that are breathing new life into many industries, not just the housing industry. We’ve made technology a top organizational priority at Marcum to stay in front of the trends. Because we are so close to our clients, we have recognized many new opportunities to bring our technology expertise to the forefront to help them address their management challenges.

The Robotic Process Automation “Bot” Services we just launched are one example. They’re designed to help our clients change the way they do business by automating and eliminating routine tasks now done manually. By switching to “digital workers,” our clients will be able to work more efficiently in areas prone to human error, such as data entry, periodic reporting, and accounts payable invoicing, and deploy the people on their team in areas that require human judgment. Not only is this something for our clients, but these new technologies are revolutionizing the way Marcum does business.

From my point of view, we can’t afford to wake up one day and be surprised by a new technology that has taken over. Neither can our clients. Look at what happened to the taxi industry after many of us got hooked on ride-sharing apps?

And in any case, it’s a lot of fun to innovate within the world of current technology. There is nothing more exciting for us than understanding what clients’ challenges are and coming to them with solutions before they even know they need them. We take pride in making it easy to get a handle on technologies that may seem intimidating at first but can bring tremendous efficiencies to a business.

By the way, ICON’s team isn’t content to stick with building its homes on the Planet Earth. Jason Ballard, one of ICON’s three founders, says they’re already thinking about creating habitats in space. We’ll be keeping an eye on what they’re doing – as we dream up our own innovations.