The question is not whether the Digital Transformation is coming to the construction industry, but when, and how to best to embrace it. How do you get people on board? Where does one begin? Here are some insights.
Digital Transformation is a perennial topic across industries, with analysts and market leaders again kicking off the year with significant attention devoted to the latest trends in Digital Transformation: powerful analytics, artificial intelligence, accessibility, etc. While the construction industry lags other sectors in digitization, these trends are nonetheless beginning to surface in the industry as companies move forward carefully with digital transformation. While a few companies (primarily new market entrants) set high standards for digital construction in 2017, 2018 is emerging as the year a large number of industry incumbents take concrete steps to advance their own Digital Transformation. Here are a few of the reasons it is important to take action now, and some steps you can take to jump start your initiative.
Why you must start construction digitization now?
1. Traditional strategies have failed
It's well known that productivity in construction has been flat for decades, and that the vast majority of construction projects are marred by budget overruns and significant delays. Even though a certain level of unpredictability is inherent in the dynamic environment of the field, traditional strategies to control delays, quality, rework and safety –regardless of the amount of effort invested - have produced consistently poor results.
2. Current digitization efforts are not reaching the field
All the benefits of digitization gained during the design and documentation phases are lost when the construction phase starts. At least 80% of your people work in the field, and these people lose up to 1 day of work per week due to manual reporting tasks, unnecessary paperwork, and cumbersome communications processes. So, an important first step in transformation is to shift your blueprints from paper to digital, and to make sure everyone can easily navigate these blueprints on tablets or smartphones to reach the right information. The shift to digital and mobile applies as well to site documentation and office/field communication and collaboration.
3. Maximize adoption on the field
In selecting digital workflow aids, look for solutions that are natively designed for the field and promote mobile-first use, whether on smartphone or tablet. Look too for solutions that can work offline, as it's common for sites to have limited or no network access. In addition, each feature needs to be user-friendly, with no training required for simple actions in your daily activities. Put technology at the service of people, not the other way round.
4. Total control of your business processes
The choice of the right platform can impact all your activities. Your software provider will be able to ensure a proper follow-up and advise you in the digitalization of all your work processes for buildings, infrastructure and energy; for all construction sites and types. Here are only a few examples of the processes that can be successfully digitized today: health and safety, quality control, permit to work. The key to successful transformation of processes like these is receiving strong solution provider accompaniment and achieving high on-site adoption.
5. Empower your employees and engage your customers
The daily work of people on the field can be made easier, faster and more accurate with collaborative worksite apps accessible to all stakeholders. New technology enables everyone to create and share tasks with social-media simplicity, snapping and uploading photos, writing comments and attaching deadlines. For site managers, all tasks are clear and easy to follow to avoid unnecessary rework, and general managers and executives have a clear overview of all projects. Selecting intuitive, engaging apps boosts adoption, application effectiveness and user satisfaction.
6. Improve or strengthen decision-making using data
If all your data is structured and captured intelligently and efficiently from the field, it can be of enormous value to your company and your ecosystem of partners and subcontractors. For best results, work with your digital partner to develop your data capture and analytics strategy to achieve your desired outcomes and support continuous process improvement.
7. Ensure International deployment success with a seasoned team
Technology alone is not enough. To achieve successful digital transformation, you need to put people at the heart of change, and to support the unique needs of teams across disciplines and locations. So, you need a team that takes a people-first approach to transformation, and that has global reach and multicultural experience to scale with your business. Ideally, choose a partner with a strong 'Train the Trainer' program and key references in digital transformation. You and your partner should also appoint a ‘Project Pilot’ for each project, and you should identify executive sponsors of digital transformation per business unit as well as a global group sponsor (e.g., CDO, CTO, CIO) in charge of digital transformation.
8. Is Digital transformation all about BIM?
BIM is the new paradigm for construction. As it's a major industry change, it will take time to deploy. But the construction industry does not need to wait for wide BIM deployment before beginning the digital transformation process. We know BIM is being used more and more in the design phase, but not yet integrated as it should be into the execution phase. Working towards BIM integration is the right strategy, but as a construction company, you have to make sure people on the field have the right technology available now, BIM or not.
Contact us if you think you need to select the right platform, help people make this massive change, and leverage data to enhance continuous improvement.