Attitudes towards digital transformation in engineering and construction
Bluebeam recently hosted a roundtable with the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) to discuss the challenges of digital transformation in the sector.
Supported by a survey, we wanted to understand the issues that engineering and construction businesses were having around implementation. While the findings were varied, one thing came up frequently: the issue of trust.
What are the main challenges to construction digitalisation?
Roundtable attendees felt that the reluctance to implement digital transformation in construction comes down to a lack of trust in data – trust that solutions would perform as they should, that data would be properly sourced and managed and that the skills existed within organisations to maintain and use information to its full potential.
For trust to exist, organisations need to be able to express tangible results related to digital initiatives, in key areas such as time, cost, quantity, safety and environmental impact.
But before that, they need to be able to build understanding within the business, both about the broad benefits of digital transformation and any specific tools and systems that are being introduced. It requires investment, not just financially, but in training the current team to make advancements. They need to know that investment in construction digitalisation is crucial to becoming more efficient and delivering better value. Crucially, they need to see the benefit for them.
A difference in approach is necessary when faced with enterprise-level investment vs project-related investment. There are clear benefits and outcomes of running a technologically driven organisation, but the piece that can sometimes be missing is the focus on how this works for individual projects. The clarity, distinction and nuance between the two must be understood and communicated. Projects are the lifeblood of construction businesses, after all.
How to implement digital transformation in construction
Making data accessible also needs to be addressed. Once systems and processes are in place, it is only by using them to their full potential that the real benefits are delivered.
Participants said they felt that organisations struggle to share data, whether through some technical barrier or even potentially down to people who may lack the proper incentive to implement and share innovation and information.
To ensure the quality of data, the whole organisation should be able to understand and explain what they are delivering and what the outcomes will be. Training individuals on the day-to-day benefits of data-driven practices is essential. Everyone at all levels in the organisation needs to understand and buy into the process of digitalisation. Again, that means tailoring the communication and benefits to each job to make it more tangible and relevant to them.
With these foundations in place, the issue of trust can start to be addressed. And, as time progresses, maintaining that level of sharing and engagement will help organisations as they move along their digital journey.
To find out more about digitalisation in construction, you can view a webinar discussing the findings here.
If you need help with your own implementation of technology, we have some advice here.