Construction businesses across the globe are under increasing pressure to build resilience, keep pace and remain competitive in an evolving sector.
Investment in innovation and technology is required to adapt and build resilience both in the short and longer-term, and the most digitally mature organisations are recognising the need for this.
According to the recent InfoBrief by IDC, Digital Transformation: The Future of Connected Construction [i], the Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) construction sector is starting to embrace digital innovation, with nearly 40 per cent of companies planning to establish a digital transformation (DX) roadmap in the next 12 months and 14 per cent stating that their DX roadmap is the business roadmap – a higher number than any other country in the world surveyed.
However, COVID-19 has shifted business operationally and logistically, and significant and costly adjustments are needed to respond to the ‘new normal’. For example, remote working, rethinking office spaces, adapting public spaces and reimagining access to reduce the number of people and their proximity.
This is particularly true in construction. In 2019, the construction industry had the highest percentage of independent contractors (27 per cent) of any sector in Australia. This means that disruptions, such as the COVID-19 outbreak, can hit them harder and be more difficult to manage due to the scale and lack of proximity of the workforce.
Recent experiences have shown how valuable digital solutions can be to maintain business continuity during disruptions such as COVID-19. As a result, businesses’ timelines for DX are accelerating. On the other side of the pandemic, it is anticipated digitisation in construction will continue to grow, helping businesses to thrive and compete.
Construction companies are prioritising digital transformation
The time to move to more automated processes is here. Across Asia Pacific and Japan(APJ), 69 per cent of construction companies are prioritising DX to drive these changes, with 64 per cent in the early stages of their DX journeys and just 1 per cent in the final, optimised stages of DX.
In APJ, the most mature companies for DX are in Japan, followed by ANZ, and Singapore. Conversely, China and India are the least mature of those analysed in this region.
Despite being early in the stages of DX maturity, construction companies are seeing the positive business impact of technology adoption. Worldwide, the top three benefits of using digital construction solutions are overall project management and performance (20 per cent), control of time and scheduling (13 per cent), and improving health and safety (13 per cent).
One of the ways companies are adopting digital solutions is with Building Information Modelling (BIM), an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives insights and tools to plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure more economically and with less environmental impact.
Take the example of Wiley – an international project delivery company offering design, engineering and construction services. We’ve been working with them for the last 18 months on DX, primarily via BIM 360 Design and future expansion to construction cloud technology during construction phases. Digital construction solutions like this combine next-generation technology, a robust network of professionals and companies, and powerful predictive analytics to help business thrive across all phases of construction.
Prior to COVID-19, Wiley was already on the path to fully deploy BIM 360 as their preferred platform, but soon accelerated their plans, made additional BIM 360 Design purchases and seamlessly moved to a full cloud system over a weekend.
By embracing DX, construction organisations can move towards more collaborative, automated and successful ways of working. In this way they can build resilience to survive and thrive – regardless of the challenges happening around them.
Top organisational challenges in the construction industry
So what’s stopping organisations from experiencing the full benefits of digital technologies? The IDC Infobrief found that in ANZ, while DX is a priority, there are key roadblocks and challenges that must be addressed to unlock its full potential. Similar to other countries, the top digital roadblocks in ANZ construction firms include data security, risk management and the challenge of ineffective, outdated technologies.
Addressing these roadblocks and adopting digital solutions can help the industry manage these organisational challenges, and build the resilience required to remain competitive now and into the future.
The journey to connected construction
Globally, 72 per cent of construction firms prioritise DX, understanding the benefits of digital solutions, and there are three steps any firm can take to start moving forward on their DX journey.
- Think ahead and create a digital roadmap integrated into the overall business plan. Consider how technology can work as a competitive differentiator, by boosting productivity, improving client relationships and delivering exceptional builds.
- Choose digital construction solutions tools that integrate easily including for functions like linking the site to the office or different stakeholders in the building lifecycle.
- Effectively manage risk. This is a significant challenge but predictive insights can help. Use digital platforms that identity and highlight problems before they occur, to reduce delays, rework and costs.
Construction businesses need digital transformation to meet rising customer expectations and improve productivity and performance. In the current COVID-19 climate, this is only speeding up. It’s not a question of whether these technologies will be embraced, but which organisations will be able to leverage them fastest and best.
[i] The IDC InfoBrief surveyed 835 construction professionals from large construction companies across Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific