Digital adoption: is strategic thinking the missing link?

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Is a strategic approach the key missing ingredient in construction businesses’ digital journey? A new insight report from Autodesk and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Mapping Your Digital Journey, highlights this concern.

Following on from their work together on the digital journey infographic, Autodesk and the CIOB surveyed 65 CIOB members about their digital journey.

Asked “How is digital technology innovation driven and managed in your company?”, just 17% of the respondents said that they are managing technology strategically, with a clear company-wide strategy led by business leaders and driven across the whole company. Only 3% have a clear company-wide strategy that extends across the supply chain.

The most popular responses to that question were top down from senior company leaders (33%) or on a project-by-project basis (26%).

The next step in the journey

The responses to another question, “What do you think is your company’s next step on its digital journey?” highlight the lack of strategy: nearly a quarter said “keen to progress, but unclear of steps involved” (22.5%), while a fifth said they need a formal plan and guidance on how to create a plan.

Asked “What kind of help do you need to move things forward?”, the most popular answers were: changing a traditional culture (40%), making a structured plan (40%), and understanding the technologies (57%).

Taking a more positive outlook, 80% of the respondents have started their journey to digital, with half still in the pilot, planning or scaling phases. Just 6% are at the advanced stage of adoption, which is “low compared to travel, media and finance industries”, the report notes.

What’s holding the respondents back from progressing more quickly? A third (31%) are unclear of the steps they need to take to advance their digital transformation, while more than a quarter (28%) are either new to digital technology, or still unclear on the benefits it can bring.

The report states: “Clearly the industry needs more support in understanding the value digital transformation can bring to their business, together with help in developing structured, workable plans for digital technology adoption that are both inclusive and support their business goals.”

What are the benefits of digital?

The CIOB members were asked about their expectations of the impact of digital adoption: many aim to achieve a financial return on their investment, whether that is greater operational efficiency (55%) or overall business growth (49%). In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it’s no surprise that nearly half (48%) also cited risk reduction.

Sustainability and social value were cited by a third or fewer, but both impacts are expected to gain traction in the coming years.

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