How Covid-driven digital transformation is changing construction
01st December 2021
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For an industry that was traditionally labour-intensive, site-based and often faced more challenges than others when it came to adopting new technology, the digital age has been a steep learning curve.
But thanks to an ever-increasing number of pioneering digital projects, construction is now catching up.
New builds integrating 5G technology. Camera drones giving real-time 360-degree progress reports. The ability to give potential buyers an interactive virtual tour of their home or office before it’s even been built.
Some of the UK’s most exciting digital projects are happening in this sector.
And our latest report with the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows that the pandemic has only accelerated things.
What is the scale of Covid-driven digital transformation in construction?
The construction sector saw an enormous acceleration in digital projects being brought forwards in the wake of the pandemic, with a massive increase in technology spend compared to pre-Covid levels.
In keeping with the relatively slow pace of digital change outlined above, however, construction didn’t progress as quickly as some other sectors.
With employee and customer expectations changing across the UK, it’s vital that construction organisations adopt the right technology and processes now to ensure they’re not left behind.
And there are other — arguably bigger – reasons to invest as well.
If Covid-driven digital change in the construction sector continues at its current pace it could drive significant growth over the next two decades, potentially adding billions more to UK GDP.
Where are construction leaders investing?
So what does ‘Covid-driven digital change’ actually look like in construction?
According to Cebr, the most important areas for digital transformation are hybrid working technology, more digital services and better use of data and analytics.
If you look at how the construction industry has been investing in technology during the pandemic, it’s clear that the sector is making good progress in all three of these areas.
Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams came out on top for spend increase, while cloud services and IT equipment also scored highly, suggesting this sector is embracing new ways of working.
Digital marketing also scored highly, along with analytics and insight, which shows that construction decision-makers are also focused on reaching customers in new digital ways and getting more out of their data.
Why does all this matter now?
“Flexible working will lift mental health and productivity… support wellbeing and greater diversity… and set the UK on the right path towards economic recovery.”
These were the words of Sir Robert McAlpine CEO Paul Hamer in a recent interview for Construction News. And our report with Cebr tells a similar story.
Increased remote working has resulted in the following for UK construction firms:
At first glance you might not think these numbers seem particularly big. But bear in mind the turmoil your employees and customers have been through since March 2020.
If hybrid working can make people happier, more productive and evidently better able to please your customers even during a global pandemic, it must be worth taking seriously.
Couple that with the ability to reach customers in new and increasingly personal ways and get deeper, richer insights from your data, and it’s clear that Covid-driven digital change has opened the door to a better way of doing business.
Now is the time to keep that momentum going and make sure that digital transformation works for you, your people and your customers, not just today but in years to come.