The UK construction industry is ramping up its digital transformation efforts, as 2020 is set to be a pivotal year for the industry, according to new research

A survey of 200 decision-makers in the UK construction industry reveals 2020 will be a pivotal year for the uptake of digital solutions to address areas such as friction within supply chains, risk management and increasing staff productivity.

The findings show that despite 54% admitting the UK construction industry has been slow to adopt digital technologies, there are pockets of optimism with businesses operating across the lifecycle of the built environment realising the benefits of investment in new technology and seeing a positive impact on:

  • Commercial performance – with 43% increasing their business win rates, 56% reducing operating costs, and 54% improving their workforce productivity.
  • Project and operational control – 70% have witnessed better and faster flows of information and data.
  • Supply chain performance – 48% have built stronger relations with their supply chain.
  • Talent management – 58% have been successful in attracting and retaining new digital talent.
  • Client relationships – 52% have experienced increased client satisfaction.

The momentum looks set to continue with 81% of respondents across the UK construction industry stating that in the next 12 months they will be taking greater leaps to improve their business digitally.

Challenges do remain however with respondents pointing to a number of key drivers that need to be addressed if the industry is to take full advantage of the opportunities of digital technology.

The key themes that emerged through the research were standardising technology across the supply chain, developing a new and diverse digitally-driven workforce and improving profitability to enable increased investment in new technology.

Chief executive of Causeway, Phil Brown, said: “Construction isn’t always the first sector that comes to mind when you think about innovation and business transformation. In fact, it is often presented as a laggard, mired in complexity and challenge.

“This can be partly attributed to the fact the industry is stuck in a vicious circle of low productivity and low profitability.

“Yet across the construction industry – right now – our customers and many other forward acting businesses are going beyond traditional back-office systems to harness digital technologies at the front-line. An area where, in today’s mobile and digitally-enabled world, success will increasingly be found. And as a result, many businesses and clients are transforming their commercial performance by reducing operating costs, managing risk, enhancing supplier relationships increasing productivity, and boosting service delivery.”

The new report ‘Construction’s Digital Frontline; How an industry is stepping up to its transformation opportunity’ has been commissioned by the UK construction software company, Causeway. As part of the report, interviews were conducted with industry leaders such as Birmingham City University, Atkins, and Eiffage Kier joint venture.

The president of Atkins, Philip Hoare, commented: “The construction industry isn’t just about boots and hard hats, but is also about clever software design and creating solutions at the front end. The more we promote that, the more we will continue to attract a diverse skills mix into the market.

“We [Atkins] facilitate innovation, we’re really open to it. I think a lot of organisations are fairly open to bringing in new ideas and new thinking. I’m working with my team to embrace technology, that means spending more time sat down as part of an integrated design team discussing solutions.”

The report ‘Construction’s Digital Frontline’ is available to read in full here.

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