Digital transformation is essential for the development of the construction sector today. Through introducing better processes facilitated by digital technologies we can create a better-built environment and increase productivity.
The last two decades paved the way for the Internet, Web 2.0, social networks, smartphones, connected objects, and the notion of big data, etc. and “digital” is boosting one economic sector after another.
The construction and public work industry is also on the move. However, its maturity is lagging behind other economic sectors and its players are undergoing heterogeneous development. Research by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that, globally, labor productivity growth in construction has averaged only 1% per year over the past two decades, compared with 2.8% growth for the whole world economy. A true digital transformation, therefore, is yet to be experienced and this could lead to productivity gains of 14-15% and cost reductions of 4-6%.
It is therefore the right time to rethink your strategy and gain efficiency thanks to the new working tools that digital technology brings!
Digital transformation or digitization?
These two words are quickly becoming part of our vocabulary. But what do they actually mean?
Digitization represents the conversion of information from text, image, audio, or video medium into digital data which becomes machine-readable and accessible to any other digital medium (mobile phone, tablet, etc.).
The digital transformation goes beyond the simple technical action of digitization. It is a revolution in all the processes of organizations to achieve an optimized efficiency of the overall activity. It takes place at the commercial level with the implementation of digital products and services and at the operational level through the implementation of technological tools and new working methods. Thus, it irrevocably improves the way organizations inform each other, exchange, design, produce, operate, maintain assets, and trade.
At Cobuilder we share this vision. This is why we have developed a Cloud platform that relies on standardized and structured data management to enable organizations to communicate and collaborate in a common digital language and thus create a better-built environment.
Going digital – the benefits
In construction the transition from traditional business models to “digital” presents the opportunity to build faster, more cost-effectively, with better operation and maintenance of buildings and structures, while controlling risks and improving the organization’s brand image.
For this evolution to be successful, your organization must start by clearly defining how digitalisation will bring value to your core activities.
In practical terms, this approach towards exploring the value of digitalisation in construction reflects Cobuilder’s core business. We first look at structuring the large volume of data in the organization, in accordance with standards and regulations to lay the groundwork for all your business objectives. Then we look at what value we can extract from the sharing and synchronization of trusted data in real-time within various systems, internal and external.
What we have seen together with our customers is that this process streamlines collaboration and misunderstandings are avoided. Project actors are thus decompartmentalized, planning and traceability become possible, and the proper deployment and generalization of BIM processes are facilitated.
How you take this value further? The business opportunities are limitless.
Did you know that most of the companies currently using Building Information Modelling (BIM) generally focus on the “M” part of it? They adopt 3D object models but forget or neglect that it is in the “I” of BIM that the “Information” or digitised data that will facilitate the process is located.
Do not forget that it is this data that educates the stakeholders of the construction project on physical subjects, quality, implementation, certification, calculations, analyses, facility management, performance claims, carbon footprint, of course, costs, and much more. Data and 3D are equally important and their ‘marriage’ can boost your business immensely no matter who you are in the construction value chain.
Where is our sector today?
The maturity of digital technology is dissimilar within countries and while project management is embracing new technologies, construction companies are lagging behind with the advancement of the ‘I’ in BIM. Private and public initiatives – such as the BIM 2022 plan in France, the Center for Digital Built Britain, SmartCE Marking, the Digital Supply Chain in Built Environment (DSCiBE), the standardisation work done on construction data within CEN TC/442 and ISO TC/59 – are emerging to accelerate the digital transition for all stakeholders in the sector.
However, in light of the recent macro environment, we have entered an era of upheaval.
The year 2020 began with, the Covid-19 pandemic which massively affected the entire world. It triggered a humanitarian crisis which was followed by major social and economic disruption. Business losses are immense, margins reduced, and usual physical channels and operations severely disrupted. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Euro area GDP is expected to plunge by 9% to 11.5% by the end of the year.
Taking the impact of Covid-19 into consideration, the construction industry is still facing major challenges in the short term: projects slowing down or coming to a halt, stand-by payments, site closures, etc.
However, in the long term, growth forecasts for the sector remain high. All the digital transformation initiatives are hard at work and standards crucial for the use of data for digital construction such as EN ISO 23386 and 87 (to be published in October) are arriving on schedule.
This crisis undoubtedly reveals a vision of a future world where digital technology has become the driving force behind every communication and interaction. In the last few months, we have seen individuals and industries migrating to digital technologies overnight and that makes us hopeful.
If the pace of the pre-COVID-19 world was already frenetic, now the luxury of having time disappears. Perhaps you had already planned to start or complete the digital transformation of your organization, knowing that it would be necessary? Well, the right time to secure your place in the industry of tomorrow and differentiate yourself before, rather than after your competitors, is today.
The digitalisation of the construction sector is uneven and lagging behind its peers. It is, however, essential and represents an undeniable opportunity to improve collaboration between all the actors in a project and consequently to develop the productivity of organizations.
To meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world, it is important to act now.