Digital transformation can enhance productivity and profitability, unlocking new business models. While construction industry progress has been slow, a whitepaper and survey by software company Bluebeam points to some quick wins.
Digital transformation: Overcoming cultural and behavioural barriers, published this month in collaboration with the UK’s Institution of Civil Engineers, unpacks insights from 161 global engineering and construction professionals.
Seventy-eight per cent of survey respondents think the industry has been too slow to adopt digital technology and 72 per cent believe it is not moving quickly enough into digital processes.
“Our survey finds many companies are struggling to make the most of existing digital products and few are on top of the possibilities being created by emerging technologies,” says James Chambers, regional director, of Bluebeam.
The top three biggest risks faced by firms as a result of this slow adoption were missed deadlines (57%), key milestone delays (54%) and budget blowouts (46%).
The bottom-line costs to business are clear. The UK’s Association for Consultancy and Engineering estimates that contractors must, typically, undertake £1 million of work to make £30,000 profit, while consultants will realise £6,000 of profit for every £100,000 undertaken.
“The problem seems to be a lack of clear, concerted and resourced plans for implementing digital transformation, led by people who understand both the technology and the industry,” Chambers explains.
But a large majority of respondents are willing to embrace change. This, together with industry-wide enthusiasm for collaboration and innovation, suggests the potential for some quick wins.
Email is used by 97 per cent of respondents to share information internally, and 71 per cent opt for email to communicate with external partners. Less than half (48%) use cloud internally, and just 37 per cent externally.
In addition, 44 per cent of firms are operating at a BIM Level 1 or not at all. This means parties are using digital technologies to collate information about built assets, but there is little collaboration between them.
Respondents nominate inadequate training (52%) and poor implementation strategy (48%) as the main reasons why technology programs in the past have failed.
“The survey points to the potential for greater adoption of cloud-based services, collaborative project management tools, and BIM Level 2 and beyond,” Chambers says.
“To grasp this opportunity, firms need leaders who understand how technology can transform productivity and performance.
“Most of all our survey shows that they need to make a major investment in training to develop the skills and capability of their workforce,” Chambers concludes.
Read the full report for more details and start a conversation at your company. Learn more.