Digital transformation: Cultural and behavioural barriers

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Digital transformation, AEC industry,

Digital Transformation is a huge opportunity for the AEC industry that has struggled for decades with low productivity and low profitability

Fully embedding digital tools into business as usual offers a way out of this trap, unlocking new, profitable business models based on greater collaboration and a deep, data-driven insight into how to deliver value to its clients. However, many companies are struggling to make the most of existing products and few are on top of the possibilities created by emerging technologies.

What can engineering and construction firms do to accelerate adoption?

Focus on digital leadership

Survey results suggest the industry is caught in a bind. It is not making the most of the technology available because of unawareness about what it can do. At the same time, we found that when technology is deployed it can fail to deliver its potential because of a lack of fi t with existing processes and ways of working – or its effectiveness is undermined by the existence of out of date legacy IT systems.

Chief technology officers or chief digital officers are an increasing presence in engineering and construction firms. This trend does point to the industry acknowledging that digital transformation is both an organisational change issue and a technology issue. These roles also put someone in the boardroom who can explain how the organisation can exploit new technology and who can fight for the resources needed for their successful roll-out. Now is the time for more organisations to consider if they have the personnel in place to deliver digital leadership.

What can be done at the industry level?

Use technology to develop new business models

We have already seen that E&C firms typically struggle with low margins. This inevitably reduces the appetite to invest in technology and the human capabilities needed to exploit them. Their clients, in turn increasingly see engineering design as a commodity and are driving down fees.

Digital transformation does point to a way out of this trap. Digital tools combined with increased volumes of data mean consultants and contractors know more about the assets they design and build than ever before. This insight can be the basis for new business models in which firms are rewarded for the value they deliver to their clients, rather than the inputs they put into projects.

Establish industry standards and improve interoperability

Survey respondents pointed to volumes of data generated in different formats via a multiplicity of incompatible systems as a barrier to unlocking the benefits of digital transformation. One size will never fit all but establishing industry standards and improving interoperability would be a big step forward.

If industry players can agree to a basic framework, opportunities to develop scalable products and services could be huge.

Read the full report created in collaboration with the Institution of Civil Engineers for more insights. go.bluebeam.com/tech-adoption-uk.

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