Industry diversity is the key focus of our Content Calendar for the month of May. This theme is a perfect follow on from the theme at UK Construction Week, culture change.
Being the official data provider and partner of the largest event in UK Construction, we had the privilege of attending the event to hear leading industry experts discuss a wide range of approaches to culturally changing construction.
Earlier this month we published our first blog reviewing our time at UKCW, where we focused on Ann Bentley, Brian Green and Simon Rawlinson’s session surrounding ESG. You can read that piece here.
When thinking of what needs to change culturally within construction, the lack of women, people of colour, and LGBTQ+ community members on-site and in senior roles rightfully took a major role in discussions at UK Construction Week.
For years the construction industry has also been labelled as further behind many other industries in terms of digitalisation, but how can we change this? At UKCW an expert panel joined together to answer questions and provide advice on how your business can digitally transform.
Taking place on Wednesday 4th May 2022, Vicki Reynolds, Chief Technology Officer at i3PT & CertCentral chaired ‘The industry’s journey to the digital transformation’ talk. Joining Vicki was the panel of experts:
- David Philp, Director at AECOM
- Melanie Robinson, Senior Project Manager at BIM Academy
- David Throssell, Head of Digital Construction at Skanska
- Henry Fenby-Taylor, Head of Information Management at Centre for Digital Built Britain
What is digital transformation?
To kick start this talk, Vicki asked the panel what they think digital transformation is. Amongst the panels answers there was a common response, which is that digital transformation is all about storing and managing digital information properly and utilising this information in a way which can bring value.
David Philp expanded on this by suggesting we should refrain from using the term ‘digital transformation’ and use transformation instead. He adds that digital transformation should provide better service provision and user experience, along with real time data.
Henry closes this question by stating that digital transformation provides an opportunity to look at how an organisation operates, which is a challenge. However it allows you to look at your business and add all the things you want such as productivity, efficiency and sustainability. He finishes by revealing that digital transformation can bring organisations the opportunity to add more social and sustainable value, not only to their own business but to the entire industry.
Why change now?
Touching on the point made earlier on in this blog, the construction industry is well known for not being as digitally savvy as others. This brings Vicki to raise the question of why enforce change now? Why is the conversation of digital transformation important, why not wait?
David Throssell first answers this question with the word productivity. He stresses it is all about automating and integrating to support construction sites, he uses the phrase ‘enter it once, use it many times’.
Adding to this, David Philp states that we need to be taken out the construction mindset, as everything construction does impacts society, so we are affecting much more than we think, highlighting the importance of this conversation.
What if we don’t? The experts explained that if we don’t transform digitally, we are at risk of taking a step back and spending more money. This also bring inefficiencies, which then puts the industry at risk of going backwards and losing the ability of understanding our buildings, which is important now more than ever. Without digital transformation we risk not delivering safe and sustainable buildings, which is a risk not many are willing to take.
To end this question David Throssell adds that cost won’t be driven down without it, but by digitally transforming you collect trusted data, which can be used to make better decisions, highlighting the advantage it brings to the industry.
Where do you start?
Vicki’s final question aims to help businesses who just don’t know where to start, she asks the panel what are the first things a company can do on their journey to digital transformation?
Melanie starts by highlighting the importance of existing assets. She states that the biggest value is in the existing built environment, meaning you shouldn’t wait for new projects to take these into consideration.
Henry adds to this by offering a piece of advice – ask your junior team! Ask them what is broken and slowing their work down. For young professionals to feel empowered enough to reveal these inefficiencies they work with every day, organisations must ensure they empower their staff to have these conversations, as starting with the inefficiencies is a great place to start.
Expanding on Henry’s advice, the talk ends with encouraging businesses to bring it back to basics. If you don’t know where to start on your journey, begin by identifying the inefficiencies within your processes and then begin to digitalise them.
This talk ends with remembering that our industry is all about the people and some may find digital transformation overwhelming. But don’t be discouraged, digital transformation is not all about automation, it is about taking small steps in the right direction, which in turn will benefit both your business and the industry.