Joe Toste (00:00):
This episode is sponsored by Nagarro. Nagarro is an 8,000 plus digital product engineering company that excels at solving complex business challenges through agility and innovation. We call it thinking breakthroughs. Thinking breakthroughs is how we've helped industry leaders to embrace digital, and accelerate technology led innovation. Our clients range from startups to Fortune 500 companies like Verizon, Honeywell, Siemens, Lufthansa, Google, Intel, and many more. Our goal isn't just to be another vendor, but a long-term strategic partner. And what really separates us is how we see the changing and evolving world. The challenges that companies are facing are more unique and complex than ever before, especially with the technology disruption happening across the globe today. And it's this technology disruption that our clients look to us to find solutions in a forward-thinking, agile, caring extension of your team kind of way, that can help transform, adapt, and build both the now and the future.
Joe Toste (00:57):
At Nagarro, we care. Caring is our superpower. It drives us to deliver excellence to our clients, it makes us responsible, and it makes us better colleagues. It all begins with a conversation. You can email me at Joe.Toste@Nagarro.com or message me on LinkedIn. For all information on Nagarro, check out Nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. Let's talk about the possibilities. Now off to you, James.
Thanks, Joe. And welcome, everyone. You're listening to season two of Tech Tables, a Q and A podcast dedicated to interviewing industry leaders from across the globe, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies, mixing it up each week with topics ranging from design and digital product engineering to AI and industry 4.0. Let's do this, Joe.
Joe Toste (01:47):
We're back for another week in the world of Tech Tables with me, Joe Toste. I'd love to think with you behind the scenes on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. There, you can even message me questions for future guests to come on the show, but today I'm very excited. We're going to shift our focus to VR and BIM, building information modeling, and smart cities and infrastructure, and lean on the experience and insight of Kurt Maldovan, global director of digital delivery solutions at Jacobs. Huge thank you to Kurt for taking time to come on the show with me today, but that's quite enough from me. Without further ado, I'm thrilled to welcome Kurt Maldovan, global director of digital delivery solutions at Jacobs. Well, Kurt, thank you for coming on Tech Tables. Super-stoked you're here today.
Kurt Maldovan (02:24):
Joe, glad to be here. Thanks for the invitation.
Joe Toste (02:26):
Awesome. Love it. Okay, so let's kick off today a little bit about yourself and Jacobs along the way, along with a lot of the exciting work you're doing in emerging technologies, let's start there.
Kurt Maldovan (02:37):
Well, we're typically thought of and categorized as an engineering firm. Jacobs has recently gone through a rebrand and I'm really excited about our deep focus as a solutions firm. Today, we had two lines of business. One is our people in places solutions and the other is our critical mission solutions. And through those, we deliver a more connected, sustainable world. Digital design engineering and delivery are key parts of my role as a technologist at our global firm. My day job has always been grounded in building information modeling, and I think we're going to get into some of that a little bit later, but it goes much deeper with respect to emerging technologies and collaborative solutions. Within our practice, the term digital has taken on a much elevated role, whereby we are thinking and acting on connectivity, which we couple our domain expertise through digital capabilities. And what excites me most is not the idea of digital design frontiers, but that Jacobs has embraced this change, and we are beginning to, as our new tagline says, "Challenge today, reinvent tomorrow," in everything we do.
Joe Toste (03:41):
We were talking "backstage," stage in quotes because we're doing this virtually during COVID-19. You have a passion for VR. Where do you see the market today and the possibilities with VR tomorrow?
Kurt Maldovan (03:54):
Yeah, great question. So according to both Business Wire and International Data Corporation, compounded annual growth rate, or CAGR, for VR and AR, or what I'll call XR, extended reality, is 77%, which roughly equates to 19 billion in 2020 alone. A few years ago, I couldn't watch a sporting event without seeing a commercial for some sort of virtual reality consumer product like a Samsung Gear VR. I'd say today, VR is used for gaming and virtual historic site visits, but within the architectural engineering construction space, we're using it to gain awareness and buy-in into designs that we're creating.
Kurt Maldovan (04:35):
I think what I told you, again, off camera, was while I was in grad school at Penn State and part of the computer integrated construction research program, we were using immersive construction lab to understand the impact of models and media on decision-making. And one of our earliest case studies involved Jacobs in the US General Services Administration. We actually were asked if we could supplement a traditional physical mock-up of a typical courtroom using virtual means. And so we jumped at that opportunity. This was really pre BIM for us, and Chuck Wood, who I still work with today, took the 2D plans. He created a three-dimensional model. He sent that model up to our research team, and then we went through a process of adding realistic materials, lighting, avatar, and then load it into a game engine environment for a collaborative physical review.
Kurt Maldovan (05:26):
And so we asked the research question, can this virtual model augment or replace the need for a physical mock-up that I think had already been torn down? So the cut to the chase is the answer was yes, it could augment. And guess what? We still have access to this rendered textured in live [Navico 00:05:44] model today. So it remains in perpetuity as long as you have the, I think it was put on a DVD at the time, right? It was a game engine, essentially. And the reason I frame that discussion that way is that from our research around 2005, 2006, is that today, the process is so much more streamlined. I wouldn't say we're quite at the single click moment to take a model to virtual reality, but we're certainly getting much closer. And this ease of creation and the proliferation of those devices, is driving greater adoption and possibilities.
Joe Toste (06:18):
Yeah, that's great. And shout out to Jake [Rubin 00:06:21] at Haptics, they've got some pretty sweet VR gloves. And then I shot an episode with him, which is episode one, Why VR Leaders Are Laser Focused on the Enterprise and Industrial Manufacturing, for anyone who's also interested in the VR movement right now. That was a great podcast episode. Yeah, it's a great market and it's only going to grow. Yeah. That 77% compounded average growth rate, 19 billion in 2020 alone. Do you have, I don't know, I'm just kind of spit balling off the top of your head, what the next five, 10 years, as far as dollars looks like?
Kurt Maldovan (06:55):
Oh, I don't, I typically attend some of the VR, AR, XR conferences and they have keynote speakers that show that information, but that was the number that I can remember, but it's staggering in many senses just because of, we'll talk a little bit about smart cities and potential internet of things, right? As people are becoming a more connected, and I think there's an amazing tale on this and we will talk about virtual and augmented reality. Augmented reality is the part that ties very closely for me to smart cities, being able to go out there and overlay design or a model or analytics with the real environment. And I think that's burgeoning as well.
Joe Toste (07:44):
Yeah, yeah, no, I'm really excited about that. So on the podcast prep, we were talking about lean design and construction, and you said it really well, fundamentally just really a better way of doing things. What do you see the possibilities of identifying and reducing waste with the use of technology today?
Kurt Maldovan (08:01):
Yeah, so I think there's a lot of opportunities there. I think the first thing for me was, again, back when I was in grad school, going through the process of identifying waste, and we did it both on a construction site as well as in day to day life. So we went down to the sandwich shop and we watched the supply chain, if you will. And we look for, does the person put the sandwich down before they go pick up the meat to put on it? And how many seconds are they spending? And so we did that same exercise again from an academic standpoint on a construction job site. And you'd be amazed at the amount of time that is spent by putting tools down, and taking measurements, and then having to go cut.
Kurt Maldovan (08:45):
And so the lean approach is really looking for opportunities to get rid of that waste, the non-value added activities, and streamlining, right? And bring things in a safer, more practical way. And I feel like once you see where waste is identified, it becomes kind of paramount every day as you're looking for those opportunities. And it's not like we have watchdogs out there on every job site that are pointing out when somebody is putting down a tool, but it's that identification and the awareness. And if you read any kind of literature or books on process, supply chain management, Toyota Way, The Goal, and handful of other books, it really gets you to focus in on how do we change the way that we do things? And how do we think about doing things much more efficiently? And I think that's a good parallel to some of the stuff that we're doing today in a remote working or lesser work onsite environment. How do you do more with less?
Kurt Maldovan (09:48):
And then technology as a whole, right? Is now, we're seeing the advent of what I'll call job site cameras and/or sensors, right? And so that is telling you when a person is in a very specific time or space, and what are they doing? And so you can do that same type of time study with wearables devices or through augmented AI in many senses through photo capture, video capture. So some really interesting technologies that are out there that tie both the leaning aspect, the productivity, and then modeling a simulation altogether.
Joe Toste (10:25):
Yeah, that was really great. I think one of the things I've read The Goal and that's a really, really great book. And that was actually, I had a manager, I worked at a software company. I was younger and he was asking me about if I want to go get my MBA. And he was telling me, "Here that some books that MBA students read." And I didn't end up getting my MBA, but mainly I liked work life more than school life. But I read The Goal and a number of other books, but The Goal was really good. It's just one of those books that stuck around for a while. So this blends really well with BIM, building information modeling. Let's talk about smart cities and infrastructure, and why BIM is really a necessity rather than an option.
Kurt Maldovan (11:08):
Yeah. So I'll start by talking about smart cities. So much like XR, smart cities are on the precipice. I believe that projected compound annual growth rate is over 223 billion by 2023. And Gartner, they're predicting 25 billion connected global sensors by 2021. So that's over three sensors per every person that's in the world today. With smart cities, these sensors are obviously concentrated, and the data and patterns developed inform the way the city truly lives and breathes. Smart technologies offers the city, large or small, profound opportunity to transform into both an inclusive and efficient place that would respect the need and concerns and aspirations of those who call it home. The connected cities then enhance mobility, enrich learning, encourage digital equity. So really interesting things that you're starting to see by just censoring people, places, things, tools, what have you. They all, for me, and for Jacobs, contribute to resiliency and managing those resources more efficiency.
Kurt Maldovan (12:17):
But back to your question about BIM, right? And so that's been my day job since I started with Jacobs. So I do have opinions on how that is foundational to smart cities, but I thought long and hard about it. Is it a necessity? Not necessarily. Is it a strong contributor? Yes, it is. And I'd say BIM is more of a necessity for something else that I referred to earlier, which is digital twins, but all in all, there's a symbiotic relationship between, excuse me, creating a model that represents the built environment or infrastructure stimulating that performance in a modeling platform, building it in a model, creating a transit system in a model, creating a water treatment plant system in a model, and then monitoring that actual performance, and then informing the city's occupants of that actual performance. And then for me, it's understanding how this data and patterns, how that was originally conceptualized in the information model and how that then is foundational for smart cities.
Joe Toste (13:17):
That's great. Let's layer that on with 3D modeling for smart cities. What inning would you kind of say we're in, in terms of growth for smart cities actually leveraging 3D modeling? And how can companies start leveraging 3D modeling today?
Kurt Maldovan (13:32):
Yeah. Good question. So I think probably in the fourth or fifth inning, and what I think about that is everyone's been up to bat, at least once. We know how to hit or build the model. We're learning what the person on the mound is going to throw at us. The model building part is easy when it's done in a vacuum, right? You can go to batting practice and you can hit the ball every time. But what you really need to do is scout the other team or better stay to the client. You need to understand what their expectations are, how they're going to use the data, what capabilities are other design and construction partners going to do that either add or take from what you've created. And then laying that information into a model is really the art.
Kurt Maldovan (14:15):
And so that's why I say we're somewhere in the middle of the game, right? The good news is that there are guides and processes to help you as either a designer or constructor or an owner, a client, right? And part of that is the [Stephen Covey 00:14:26] principle beginning with the end in mind, part of that as what we defined with the BIM execution and planning guide through Penn State, it's responding to what you need in a smart city, right? So you have to define, what is that end? What are you trying to achieve? And then work it backwards so that you know what you need to create. And then, like I said before, what you give to that next party down the line. So my advice is to sit down with your client or constituency or entity, right? Define those expectations and what elements need tracked into model and how, and then determine what the model feeds into to then create the smart city.
Joe Toste (15:04):
Yeah, That's really great. And so I mentioned Jake, Jake Rubin earlier. I'm just curious. So there's a lot of different mixed reality technologies, emerging reality. What makes VR so fascinating to you or some of the other ones out there today?
Kurt Maldovan (15:19):
Yeah. So good question. I think for me it's, as I was describing earlier, I have a fond passion for VR, but that's because that was something that I embraced or was embracing to me back when I joined the movement, if you will, in the early 2000s. So it was like your first experience, right? And so I continued to latch onto that, but like many of the technologies similar, if you chase it all the way back, probably one of the earliest ones I've heard reference was Lewis Carroll and Through the Looking Glass in the late 1800s, right? One of the earliest references to virtual reality. So it's interesting to believe that it's been around for that long. It's had its home in military applications and then commercial applications as I was describing, but truly, I see it much more than VR, right?
Kurt Maldovan (16:08):
I feel, like I said, that's a passion for me and I'm comfortable in that environment, but at the same time, like you described with Haptics, right? Being able to put on some type of wearable device and you're getting real interaction or being able to overlay, like I was saying with augmented reality, the real world with the virtual model, I mean some fascinating stuff that's happening. And certainly many of our smart phones today have some sort of capability to do augmented reality. And it's just, to me, just fascinating the amount of technology that we can pack into these small devices. And as somebody that's tried some of the Haptic devices, it goes back to the lean comment, right? Is if somebody has got a screw gun for eight to 10 hours a day, you don't realize how much fatigue that puts on you.
Kurt Maldovan (16:58):
But if you put on one of these wearable devices that has some sensors in it, and it takes the pressure off your hand and you don't come home fatigued every day, or you don't have to pound the aspirin before you go to bed and get up and do the same thing the next day. I mean, that's contributing to a better workforce. And so I'm really excited about some of the stuff that's coming out from a Haptic standpoint, from a visualization standpoint. But I feel comfortable with VR because that's where I started.
Joe Toste (17:29):
No, I love it. I love it. Okay. So we're going to, before we hit the 60 Second Tech Tables, what's the number one problem that you're trying to solve or you're seeking to solve as the global director of digital delivery solutions at Jacobs?
Kurt Maldovan (17:43):
Yeah. So that's a really interesting question. So my thoughts were it's around two things. It's consistency, connectivity, and I'm about three months into my role as our first official global solutions director for digital delivery. And as we talked about the size of our firm, you can imagine that sometimes that's difficult. We've grown through acquisitions and there's multiple ways and reasons of designing things in a certain way. So for me, putting that further consistency around the approach is powerful, or having a framework. It doesn't necessarily mean we have to do the same thing in every geography or for every client, right? But we have to have a good process around that. And so that's one thing that I've seen over the last couple months that I see it as an accelerator, right? And the other part of the way that we accelerate that and solve for the consistency is greater connectivity.
Kurt Maldovan (18:37):
We are becoming much more connected as an enterprise, and I'm not sure if that's a resultant of the COVID situation or just where we were headed, like I said, with the alluding to our future of work process concept, right? Is that if we've been making these strides over the past several years, and when we had this initiative called, it was originally called Jacobs Connected Enterprise about two years ago, that was pretty eye-opening for me, because we were daylighting things that are happening in the practice. We were talking, I think, off camera a little bit about some of the work that we do for NASA and that's in our critical mission solution business. And I'm technically part of our people in places solutions business. Three, four years ago, would I have ever known about that? Would I have ever done a presentation about the interesting things that we're doing with 3D additive construction and additive manufacturing that was born out of NASA? Probably not, but the fact is, we broke down those barriers, and part of that's through connectivity.
Joe Toste (19:36):
Oh, that's great. No, I love it. Okay. So let's roll into the 60 Second Tech Tables. What do you know now that you'd wish you'd known at the beginning? either personal business or a blend of both.
Kurt Maldovan (19:47):
Wow. A lot. Yeah. So my thoughts on that were a little bit different, leadership based, and I'd say when I first entered the industry, I was pretty fortunate to join a construction firm that was very interested in the soft side of things, the soft skills. Much of this has come out probably over the last several years, but back in the early 2000s, it was really strange for construction folks to be talking about empathy and soft skills and leadership development.
Kurt Maldovan (20:22):
So my thought there, maybe some advice is to find a mentor, right? And then as you have skills and capabilities, become a mentor there's so much that we learn, we talk about kind of cross mentoring, right? Is there's a lot that the new generation of people coming directly out of school, out of college, out of trade schools, that they bring to the table that you need to learn from. So they can be your mentor. And then obviously people that are seasoned in the industry, seasoned with product type are mentors. So pretty generic and in terms of not specific, but I think I've had some really strong mentors over my career and I appreciate what they've done for me and got to pay it forward, pay it backwards, right?
Joe Toste (21:09):
Yeah, no. And I wouldn't say it's generic at all. Not everyone picks up on the mentor, mentee relationship, or even sees the value of that. So I yeah. I love what you said, I echo that. So favorite Netflix show? I don't even know if you watch Netflix, but that's just the question I'm rolling with. You're going to tell me you don't.
Kurt Maldovan (21:28):
I saw that from one of your previous podcasts, right? But yeah, I wouldn't say favorite. I'd say one of the most recent ones that we've got into other than bingeing Unorthodox last night was into Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Joe Toste (21:45):
Okay. Interesting. I have not, but I'm going to have to look that up with my wife. Did Stranger Things, any, did you get into that at all?
Kurt Maldovan (21:53):
Did not get into Stranger Things. I think like you, we've got a couple young children, so that time is valuable and try to find a slot to get in there. And we caught the Tiger King. That was pretty good, but my wife will tell me what's the latest and greatest that we have to watch, and I will get in there and watch it. But this one was kind of, the Jerry Seinfeld's was mine and we're certainly big fans from back in the day. And he's got some interesting guests, people that are longstanding well-known comedians, and I'm a big car guy. So I love watching the ventures cars, and hey, like to eat and drink coffee, so there you go.
Joe Toste (22:32):
Oh, I love it. I like to eat and drink coffee also. That's really funny, Tiger King. My wife refuses to watch Tiger King. So I constantly, every time I hear a guest, they mention Tiger King, I just go back to her the next day. I'm like, "Another guest said Tiger King." She's like, "We're not watching it."
Kurt Maldovan (22:48):
Yeah. The other thing I think just from a Netflix standpoint is it's psychology, and so people experiment, understanding how different people live their lives. And I think that's why some of the shows you get so sucked in because it's about the character development, and Tiger King was more of a documentary than some of the other shows that are out there. But for me, somebody that, like I said before, very interested in the soft side, the people skills, just observing those different personalities and how they interact together.
Joe Toste (23:19):
Yeah. So today's actually my wedding anniversary with my wife. I'm trying to think if I can sell her on Tiger King tonight. That's a tough one, but we'll see. Okay. So last one. Favorite XR demo or product that you've seen to date.
Kurt Maldovan (23:36):
Good question. So I think the one that I've been pretty bullish on is VisualLive, and they're AEC centric. They're both hollow lens base as well as iPad or tablet based. And to me, it's what I was alluding to before. It's almost a single click, well, actually it is a single click from your model environment into their application. And to me, for what we do in the architecture engineering construction space, it takes what our designers have spent hundreds of hours creating. And it takes it out to a job site where it takes it in front of a client in a design review. And you can now be immersed inside your design at scale, full-scale, or even you can shrink it down into a small scale and spin around it. So powerful, especially when you can get it in the context of the real world.
Kurt Maldovan (24:44):
We do a lot of renovation work or retrofit work. So let's say you're in a mechanical room and part of the equipment needs to come out. How's it going to come out? And where's the new piece of equipment? Where's the pump going to go? Where's the header going to go? How do you see that? You couldn't do it before. you could take your roll of drawings out and look at it in 2D and say, "Okay, yeah, it's this big and it's this tall, and how am I going to dismantle this old boiler that's in here and get it out the door?" Well, now you can see it because of extended reality or in this case, augmented reality. So really like that solution. And there's a number of other, I'd say hardware was pretty big for a while. And then there'd been some falters with some startups that didn't quite get through all the funding that they needed to, but we're really happy with what we've seen from our partners over at [inaudible 00:25:43].
Joe Toste (25:43):
Yeah, no, that's great. Now, I can't remember. I meet a lot of people. So forgive me. Were you at the VR, AR global summit in Vancouver? Was it late last year? I think it was late last year. November...
Kurt Maldovan (25:56):
No, I wasn't. I was tracking that one. I've been to several of the other related conferences. I think the fall is typically conference season. So it's really hard to pick and choose. And I already had a couple of VR, AR or ones on the books, so unfortunately missed out on that one. But like I said, I try to stay engaged with some of those communities of practice just because that is so interesting. And I feel like I've been around it for a while. And it's exciting. I'll tell you one other story, if you have a second.
Joe Toste (26:25):
Yeah, yeah, go for it.
Kurt Maldovan (26:27):
So I mentioned augmented reality. While I was in grad school, I went to a conference over in the UK and there was a presenter who had a Palm Pilot and an overhead projector. And he was doing augmented reality back in probably 2003. And to me, it was so fascinating because he would put down a marker, if you will, call it a fiducial marker, right? It has a symbol, similar, like a QR code, right? Is what most people think about it today. He would scan that object and voila, you would see something pop up. A building in that instance. And I'm just so blown away that now we're doing it, like I said, out of the box and the application, he obviously spent hours and hours of coding to get that marker to show what he needed to show. So I think there's, again, back to one of your other questions, there's a lot of tale on this one and I'm excited for those opportunities.
Joe Toste (27:24):
Yeah. I'm looking at VisualLive right now just on the internet and it looks pretty sweet. I've had an opportunity when I was in Vancouver, I think the HoloLens 2 had just come out. And so I did the demo that they had and yeah, it was amazing to kind of try that stuff on. And there are just so many real world applications and being able to walk into a construction place, snap on a HoloLens 2 and collaborate everything from RFIs, change orders, to just really managing and modifying BIM metadata. And I mean, there's just so many applications. Yeah. It's a fun spot.
Kurt Maldovan (28:07):
We have a lot of folks talking most recently about what I call the remote assist, right? Or being able to do a virtual site walk. So somebody puts on an AR headset and they're walking through the job site and they can simulcast that back to the home office. So instead of sending five people out to do a site visit, you send one person or you give it to the operator that's already onsite and they walk through and they're streaming your daily site walk. And then there's also the, what I love to call the phone a friend. So remote assist is somebody has got an issue. So instead of sending a technician out, similar deal, you're sending somebody else out and you're basically giving them play-by-play instructions of, "Look at this, do that. Here's your virtual instruction manual." You can pull that up on one overlaid with the real world, and then you can start to triage faults via the headset.
Kurt Maldovan (29:02):
Well, not really through that. The headset overlays the reality with the instructions and then you're following those instructions. And so Boeing has done some amazing studies on the amount of time that they've saved from traditionally wiring up their planes and devices, right? So instead of somebody looking down at a manual and then getting lost and looking up versus just using the heads up display and having it right in front of you and then never have to look down.
Joe Toste (29:29):
Yep. Love that. Yep. Love it. Awesome. So where can people find you? Hangout, LinkedIn, Twitter, where's your spot?
Kurt Maldovan (29:36):
Yeah. I'd say LinkedIn is probably the main spot. We've got, as I was alluding to before, Jacobs has got an increasing presence online, so we're looking to daylight a lot of our industry insights through what we call our F1 podcasts, as well as a number of other connected enterprise related solutions. So Jacobs.com and Kurt Maldovan on LinkedIn.
Joe Toste (30:02):
Love it. Awesome. Thanks for coming on, Kurt. Appreciate it.
Kurt Maldovan (30:05):
Joe, thanks a lot. I appreciate the time today and appreciate the opportunity to share what we've got going on.
Joe Toste (30:10):
If you are interested in seeing what Nagarro, a digital product engineering company that excels at solving complex business challenges through agility and innovation, can do for your company, you can email Joe at Joe.Toste, that's T-O-S-T-E, @Nagarro.com, or message Joe on LinkedIn. For all information on Nagarro, check out Nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. You've been listening to the Tech Tables podcast to make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you have an iPhone, we'd love for you to open the Apple podcasts app and leave a quick rating for the show, just tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. To catch more Tech Tables episodes, you can go to TechTablesPodcast.com and to learn more about our sponsor, please visit Nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. And of course you can find Joe Toste, your podcast host, on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Joe's last name is T-O-S-T-E. Thanks for listening.