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Williams Engineering – Using the power of machine learning to optimize business functions

As we move towards economic recovery, the need for businesses to adopt new technologies to improve efficiencies and support long term growth is becoming more and more critical. Increasingly we are seeing a real shift towards understanding how innovation and technology are key to supporting growth across all industries here in the Edmonton Metropolitan region and across the globe. The Edmonton region’s strengths in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have the capacity to capitalize on the opportunities that have emerged as a result of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Williams Engineering Canada (WEC), an engineering consultancy firm had begun investing in machine learning software even before the pandemic hit. Through a partnership with AltaML, another Edmonton-based company that is focused on applied artificial intelligence, the two organisations are building machine learning applications in the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. 

“We’re passionate about designing sustainable infrastructure that contributes positively to the communities that we’re a part of. ML algorithms, when applied to large amounts of data generated by buildings and business processes, will create economic opportunity and transform the AEC industry,” said Naseem Bashir, President and CEO of Williams Engineering Canada when the announcement was made in December 2019. “Being the first to partner with AltaML to develop AI and ML solutions for the AEC industry is exciting and beneficial not only our organization, but for every organization responsible for designing and building infrastructure across Canada. Machine learning and data analytics will augment our people’s ability to understand and predict the behavior of complex systems, enabling new and innovative solutions to emerge. The ability to leverage data enables companies like WEC to make improved decisions and produce greater efficiencies that lead to creating more sustainable infrastructure for the cities and communities where we all live, work and play.”

Adopting these tools are generating a real-world return on investment (ROI) for Williams Engineering where improving efficiencies is helping to make them more globally competitive.

“Typically, one of the most time-consuming parts of what WEC does is the proposal phase,” says Naseem. “We have 180 employees who write between 2,500 and 2,700 proposal a year – this takes a lot of time. An ML tool has the capacity to pull a tonne of data together, learn from it and help our engineers make better and faster decisions – leading to better work and the ability to bid on even more projects.”

It is these sorts of efficiencies that will have the ability to set them apart from their global competitors.

“Disruption breeds opportunity,” says Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global. “ML & AI have the ability to support businesses in all sectors to become more efficient and productive. Globally, we’re seeing companies that invest in digital approaches, AI & ML, automation, etc. expand and gain market share. Our region is really well positioned to be at the leading edge of this because of companies like AltaML, the huge number of AI graduates from our universities, and the awareness of our business community that we’re at a real turning point in the global economy. Now is the time to take our regional strengths – like our well-developed expertise and talent in AI and ML- and use those to our advantage.”

To learn more about the Edmonton region’s strengths in AI and ML, and how businesses are using these tools to optimize business functions register for our upcoming webinar – Accessing the world’s top AI & ML talent

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