Reimagining governance, people and technology: When these critical performance drivers work in harmony, the sum can truly be greater than the parts.
With exciting innovations like robotics, automation and drones, and powerful data analytics to improve design and project management, engineering and construction would seem to be a perfect stage for showcasing the technological revolution.
This year’s respondents are certainly bullish about the potential of technology. Fifty-five percent feel the industry is ripe for disruption, 93 percent think technology/innovation will significantly change their business, and three-quarters believe such a change will happen in less than 5 years.
And 72 percent of respondents say that technology innovation or use of data plays a prominent role in their strategic plan or vision.
A separate global 2017 KPMG survey of CIOs (conducted in conjunction with Harvey Nash) also showed enthusiasm for all things digital, with 63 percent of respondents from engineering and construction companies seeing technological disruption as more of an opportunity than a threat.
Yet, as last year’s 2016 Global Construction Survey Building a Technology Advantage demonstrated, the industry is yet to fully harness the power of technology.
Fewer than half of the respondents to this year’s survey (48 percent) say their company has developed a data/ technology strategy or roadmap. Of all the technologies, PMIS (project management information systems) is considered to have the greatest potential to deliver value, yet just one-fifth (20 percent) have implemented PMIS across all projects, and a mere 8 percent say they have a real time full PMIS capable of project and portfolio reporting.
Which regions and industries are pioneering the adoption of technology? Our survey responses reveal some fascinating findings. For example, China appears to be leading the pack when it comes to advanced D&A and BIM modeling, and shares top place with the UK for use of mobile platforms. Owners and contractors from the UK, meanwhile, are the most likely to be employing drones and virtual reality.
India and Central America are at the forefront of integrated PMIS, while Europe (excluding the UK) has assumed the lead in digital labor and robotics. And respondents from Australia report the highest uptake of 3D printing.
Looking at specific industries: media and telecommunications executives say their sector is the fastest adopter of integrated PMIS, and, along with financial services is at the forefront of advanced D&A usage. Healthcare leads the field in BIM modeling and virtual reality, with financial services ahead in mobile platforms and drones. Finally, respondents from natural resources are the most likely to say their companies use smart sensors for remote monitoring, quality verification, and construction status.
When asked about their organization’s technological maturity, a mere 5 percent consider themselves ‘cutting edge’.
Robotic process automation and/or digital labor have a particularly exciting potential, and are taking off in many other industries, with machines and computers replacing humans. Once again, engineering and construction lags behind. The vast majority of respondents (83 percent) say their organization has not yet implemented such technologies, with most expecting a wait of 5 years or more before they become more common. And it’s a similar picture with cognitive machine learning, another technology that lends itself to automation.
On the surface, engineering and construction seems ripe for such transformation, with a host of tasks like payment processing, engineering calculations, and data and information management that could be automated. In an industry that is heavily resistant to change, such advances may be viewed with trepidation, along with the fear of losing jobs. Yet, as KPMG’s paper on digital labor, Rise of the Humans, argues, “Cognitive technologies can spur a growth in jobs and enhance human skills and expertise. Ultimately they can make every employee an innovator and transform the enterprise into an engine of unconstrained innovation.