In the last 50 years, the digital revolution has changed the world. It has opened markets, created new services and products, and developed economies. And the speed of technology has improved the industry across sectors. Innovations have made manufacturing cost-effective, productive, and sustainable.
Most industries have engaged in massive change, thanks to new technology. But the construction sector hasn’t embraced technology. And that has lead to a fragmented industry, a limited workforce, and a lack of shared knowledge.
The construction industry must tackle its age-old problems
When compared to other industries, construction hasn’t kept up. The rate of technology adoption and innovation has been slow. And the causes are diverse and numerous:
- Investment in research and development is the lowest in construction. The driving force of any industry is research and development. The lack of it is unsuitable for businesses in a project-driven space.
- Construction processes have no standard definition or lack maturity.
- Companies don’t pass knowledge from one project to another. As a result, they lose insight.
- Construction companies don’t collect and track data. Issues aren’t spotted and remedied soon enough.
- Traditional construction processes are sequential, hindering cross-functional planning.
- There is little or no collaboration with suppliers, creating a poor purchasing strategy.
- The construction industry operates with a conservative mindset and culture.
- Construction companies don’t invest as much in people development. And they’re not attracting the next generation of workers.
There are more explanations for poor productivity in construction. And most of these problems can be solved.
Big data makes the industry ripe for change
Improvements in construction practices can have a huge impact. Just a 1% reduction in construction costs could save $100 billion per year.
Meanwhile, the global shortfall in infrastructure is expected to reach $15 trillion by 2030. Closing the gap would create 100 million jobs and generate trillions in economic activity. Innovation presents opportunities for change. It’s up to the industry to welcome these changes.
To digitize is to use digital technologies and their resulting processes. It is the core of change in the construction industry. The gold mine is in the data collected during the life cycle of a project. By making the most of mobile solutions, construction companies can collaborate on projects. And workers and project owners can get real-time, on-site information.
5 steps to a data-driven construction industry
Single companies can adopt technology, change their processes, and redefine their cultures. But industry challenges must be addressed collectively. The industry has to form new ways of working or reform existing ones. And governments, as regulators and clients, have big roles to play.
1. Share data
With an open, transparent data exchange, companies can benchmark and share best practices.
2. Invest in data literacy
For a data-driven industry, instill data literacy skills on an industrial scale.
3. Standardize practices
Standard processes can make the global construction industry more efficient.
4. Promote collaboration
Share knowledge that can benefit peer companies and the whole industry.
5. Encourage data leadership
Strong leaders can promote data-driven practices. And governments can fund research that can ease data adoption and innovation.
Anastasios Koutsogiannis is the Content Marketing Manager at LetsBuild.