Singapore 2016: The future of construction

In two separate sessions, lively and provocative conversations followed panels representing senior executives from CapitaLand, DPR Asia Pacific, Flux, GE Digital, Novade Systems, QuantumBlack, RIB Software, Siemens and Surbana Jurong.

Context: Technology is disrupting not only companies, industries and business models, but also has the potential to fundamentally change the nature of work. In the past 30 years, productivity growth and margins in construction and capital projects worldwide have lagged behind other industries. Creative management processes and technology-enabled solutions can boost productivity by 20 to 25 percent. Additionally, the industry is ripe for disruption with new digital technologies coming online to help tackle projects that are only getting more complex and larger in scale.

  • What are the most tangible proven management solutions and technologies that can be applied to boost productivity?
  • Can lessons from the use of advanced analytics in other sectors provide new solutions?
  • How can the industry transform itself over the next five years?

Some of the key themes and insights are detailed below:

  1. The construction industry lags other industries on overall productivity—innovations in digital and technology can help bridge that gap. The adoption of technology in construction and capital projects has been very limited so far, and there is a massive opportunity for early adopters to leapfrog their competition.
  2. The adoption of advanced analytics and digital technologies in construction is just a matter of time. There are already pockets of the construction and capital projects sectors using advanced analytics and digital technologies. Several big players are working on crafting a comprehensive and integrated approach to drive adoption at scale in their portfolios.
  3. Digital transformation of organizations are essential to realizing gains in productivity and margins. Consistent with the experience in other industries, a software platform is required to enable digital integration and collaboration across the full construction cycle. Also, the entire organization has to start embracing new ways of working (including new business models) that are digitally driven, changing the DNA of the organization.
  4. The largest obstacle will be resistance to change from people in the industry. Even once the technologies and platform/s are available, enrolling people to embrace this change and adapt to a new way of doing things will take dedicated leadership and persistence.
  5. Attracting, training and retaining the right talent is central to success. Digital transformation requires committed leadership, a cultural shift, and a strong talent pool. The digital journey will require specialist roles to make critical choices around technologies, platforms, vendor ecosystems, etc. Retraining and apprenticeship programs are an important part of the equation.