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Shaping digital-first capital projects: Key questions to consider

To get the most out of digital, capital project organizations should start by addressing questions in six critical areas.
Steffen Fuchs

Steffen leads McKinsey’s global work in capital productivity with a focus on digital and innovation. He works across multiple regions, including North and South America, Asia, and Europe.

For capital-projects organizations, digital technology has traditionally been a secondary priority—if not a largely theoretical one. Construction has lagged its peer industries in adopting digital tools and solutions, a gap that has contributed to the industry’s stagnant productivity: The average capital project runs 20 months past its completion deadline and 80 percent over its budget.

That is changing, as capital project leaders recognize and seize the benefits of going digital. Already, large engineering and construction firms are harnessing technologies like advanced analytics and Building Information Modeling (BIM) to improve project outcomes. Artificial intelligence, while still a distant prospect for this industry, could radically change the way projects are delivered.

The value is immense: Existing digital technologies, when applied effectively, can reduce overall capital project costs by up to 45 percent. But in an industry that has been predominantly analog for so long, how can organizations truly become “digital-first”? As the exhibit shows, leaders must consider key questions across six areas:

  1. Defining the value
  2. Understanding the ecosystem
  3. Digitizing project delivery
  4. Transforming the company
  5. Mobilizing for success
  6. Going digital on major projects

Thoughtful approaches to each of these questions will be challenging—but they will be critical to the companies that succeed in this next wave of capital project innovation.

Shaping digital-first capital projects: Key questions to consider
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