Digital construction, defined as the use of digital technologies to build more efficiently and with higher quality, could be the answer to the current challenges posed by the pandemic, inflation and supply chain disruption in 2022.

However, when it comes to IT investments, the construction industry has a history of underinvestment in technology. Nonetheless, digitalisation presents a significant opportunity to not only deal with, but also thrive in the face of these challenges.

In fact, InEight Global Capital Projects Outlook (GCPO) found that despite the current negative situation the industry finds itself in, there is ongoing industry confidence as 94 percent of APAC construction project owners and contractors are optimistic about their company’s future. This positive sentiment is fueled by the industry’s positive attitude towards digital technologies, with nearly two-thirds of APAC respondents citing this as their organisation’s biggest growth opportunity in the coming year.


Potential room for growth in the industry

The construction landscape today has become vastly different over the last decade. Projects are significantly impacted by inflation, supply chains and labour shortages. Nevertheless, as the GCPO report indicates, the sector is at a crossroads in its technological journey, heading for growth.

Data analytics (55%), building information modelling (50%) as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning (45%) are the types of technologies project owners and contractors reveal being the most critical for their organisation’s success in the next 1-3 years.

As capital projects become more complex due to external factors, the reliance on such technology is necessary because it connects data points together. Connected technology creates a collaborative atmosphere for all stakeholders, maximises project transparency and bridges common data gaps to ultimately provide higher levels of project certainty.

In relation to project certainty, the GCPO report found two-tenths of respondents revealed their organisation completes construction projects on or ahead of the original schedule 80 to 99 per cent of the time. When looking at how often construction projects were completed on or under budget, just 18 per cent claimed to do so up to 80 to 99 per cent of the time.

Inadequate communication whether that be with stakeholders or construction workers on site was the biggest challenge for organisations completing projects on-time and on-budget at 57 per cent.

Considering the industry sights technologies as a major factor for progression and competitive edge in the near future, there is a disconnect between the implementation of these technologies to achieve project certainty. This prompts the question – what are the issues of technology implementation in construction?


Overcoming the struggles of technology implementation

As pointed out by the GCPO report, 40% of project owners and contractors believe there are opportunities for growth regarding the implementation process, with more than half citing insufficient training on new tools as a limitation during the change management process.

Technologies are ever-evolving, and it can be expensive to constantly adopt and integrate new digital changes. Therefore, it is crucial that executive leadership owns and drives technology transformation with an understanding of the necessary investment. According to a study from McKinsey in 2020, investment in construction tech has more than doubled over the past decade. This investment trend further implies that construction companies need to continue to invest and scale their technological platform to remain competitive in the upcoming years.

The added conveniences and offerings of new technological functions will eventually compensate for additional expenses and the new learning curve. Digital construction is no different. The hassle of overcoming initial issues from implementing digital technologies into construction projects is a small price to pay for construction companies that are determined to grow their businesses. As such,  the key now is to channel construction’s desire for greater project certainty into more realistic and humanistic practices, and that means thinking about technology in a holistic, integrated way.


By Rob Bryant, EVP APJ at InEight



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