The topic of relevance is a core aspect of ACI's strategic plan. Actually, the first task assigned to new ACI Board of Direction members is to read Race for Relevance by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers. Questions about relevance impact all standards development organizations (SDOs) like ACI.
In a world driven by a superfast technology train, how can SDOs be as impactful tomorrow as they have been in the past? Isn't it easier to find a quick (and free) answer on Google, YouTube, or Wikipedia, rather than purchase and dive into hundreds of pages of codes and standards?
The new dynamics of unpredictable technology change prompted ACI in 2015 to assign a task group the mission of developing an outlook for ACI in 2030. The result was ACI Vision 2030, which identified the megatrends in the world and our industry and recommended responses and actions ACI should take to maintain its relevance in the future.
In discussing the current and future roles of ACI, we need to consider data, information, and knowledge and the relationships between them. The following chain from Making Sense of Data and Information (Elsevier, 2007) explains it best:
Let's apply this to the data, information, and knowledge developed around properties of concrete production and supply. As shown in the table below, data are finite descriptions of the concrete delivered to the project, and information includes the application and the interpretation of the data. Knowledge results from the processing of the information as needed to manage or enhance the project schedule, cost, and quality.
ACI has been developing consensus-based documents to equip the concrete industry with the tools to structure the data, transform it into useful and reliable information, and finally, and most importantly, model the information to develop consensus and universally trusted knowledge. While data is precise, information can take different shapes or forms, whereas useful knowledge must be based on consensus for it to be a universally accepted agent for improvement. Because of its rigorous consensus-based system, ACI provides a unique platform to build trusted and assured knowledge, something that Internet search engines fall short of guaranteeing.
Having random information does not necessarily lead to correct knowledge. Knowledge implies deep understanding of data and information, experience in using and developing them, prior research, and continuous validation. This is exactly what our volunteers and staff bring to the industry. And that is how our Institute brings tremendous value in different critical areas of concrete construction, whether that value is life safety, durability, or constructability.
While this noble mission will surely survive the test of time, as validated by ACI Vision 2030, it may still not address tomorrow's requirements. The industry also needs quick access, smart and customized information, and direct answers—not just consensus-based documents, as valuable as they will always be.
ACI has over 200,000 Facebook followers and around 60,000 members on its LinkedIn page, with most of our 21,000 active members participating. There are huge numbers of people on ACI social media channels who are not only seeking information, but also yearning to enhance their knowledge of concrete and its applications.
ACI is therefore evolving from disseminating consensus-based knowledge to empowering a global concrete community, able to successfully address the challenges of concrete construction. Assuming this new responsibility will maintain ACI as one of the most relevant associations on concrete and its uses.
Khaled W. Awad