It’s amazing how much the construction industry has changed over the past few decades. Procurement models, contracts, design and construction deliveries and most of all, the types of projects are increasingly complex.
This is due to the fact that the tools, technologies and systems we use have advanced exponentially over the years, allowing us to expand and innovate on the types of assets we build. We are making smarter infrastructure and assets, allowing clients and organisations to spread into environments that are becoming ever more complex and challenging.
Today our industry provides clients with a very recognisable product, whether it’s a tier one consultant or contractor or a specialist providing sub-consulting services. The method of delivery for this product has generally not changed very much; it is based on a traditional paper output (specifications, reports, drawings, all forms of documents due by a series of deadlines which release a proportion of payment.)
Our product is rich in information that either illustrates or articulates the desired knowledge to the client. But the handover of data regarding the asset's use is a whole exercise involving the chasing and validation of information. This inactive information is not connected or useful in any way and will become an ‘inert’ cell of data within an ERP, gathering digital dust until specifically searched for.
I have always looked at what we do through the lens of iterative evolution. How do we innovate and learn, applying the best from the last to the next? Certainly in this day and age we are well and truly capable of delivering a better form of knowledge via information management. Why don't we?
Here in ANZ, we lack some of the requirements which are driving change across the globe, particularly regarding client leadership or requirements. The supply chain has, to this point, driven the adoption of information management in a variety of forms (Lean, BIM, GIS, IoT and other technology or process driven methods.)
What is needed now is a change of pace from the client side to complete this phase of iterative evolution to the industry. Clients need to understand what their information requirements are, and insist on them as a deliverable within their contracts. This will allow clients to take the step and secure a knowledge rich product that will contribute to the organisation's greater collective ability to make better proactive decisions.
Yes it might be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Changes will need to be made to store and share information, contracts adjusted, procurement rethought and technologies adopted. But hey, it’s not like we’ve not all been doing that already for the last few decades anyway, right?
Again, our methods will continue to change drastically. We have cross-pollinated behaviours, technologies and systems from other industries to ours. Each evolution is becoming broader and more holistic than the last, and clients are ever closer to the wholesale transfer from semi-automated systems to artificial intelligence.