The construction sector has been relatively slow to transform its ecosystem into a digitized one. Streamlining business processes with the help of digital solutions can go a long way in overcoming challenges faced by the industry.
As the operation dynamics of the construction business in India continues to evolve and the need to usher in innovations at all levels of business processes become imperative; digital transformation techniques can go a long way in improving quality, cutting costs, enhancing safety, reducing risks and boosting profits. The silver lining is that with increasing Internet penetration and the rapid technological advancement in the country, it is a good time for construction companies to accelerate their digital transformation.
Autodesk-IDC’s latest research report, ‘Digital Transformation: The Future of Connected Construction in India’ highlights how the construction industry can benefit from digital transformation and how the sector can overcome the bottlenecks. The report also looks at how private companies are spearheading the BIM adoption revolution in India.
Benefits of Digital Transformation for Construction Sector
At a time when consumer behavior patterns are witnessing a sea change, digital tools can aid construction companies in meeting personalized customer specifications while maintaining efficiency. By implementing automation processes, the decision-making processes can be streamlined and communication gaps can be easily eliminated. This can help in improved workflow, lower costs, better resource management, and faster turnaround times.
The demand for smart and sustainable technologies has been gaining ground since the last few years what with increasing concerns about the environmental impacts of construction activities. By making use of digital technologies, construction companies can stay ahead in the race of incorporating innovations that are sustainable and align with the rising trend of constructing smart buildings and cities across the globe.
The construction industry is sensitive to socio-economic changes like market demand, labour movement, etc. In light of the ongoing tremors being felt in the economy, cloud-based software and mobile apps can ease collaboration among stakeholders that can strengthen the quality control process. Construction costs can be optimized by creating offsite, prefabricated materials and digital tools can help in proactively monitoring onsite safety and risk management through offsite manufacturing along with predictive maintenance.
The growing popularity of BIM
Although a chunk of India’s construction companies has a long way to go in terms of digitalization, they are quickly climbing the rope and picking up knowhow from players in more developed markers for responding to local demand. One such aspect is incorporating BIM techniques.
With BIM, digital 3D models that include data associated with physical and functional characteristics can be designed. BIM allows architects, engineers and contractors to collaborate on coordinated models so that everyone can have valuable insights into how their work fits in the overall project. According to the results of IDC’s survey, private companies are spearheading the BIM adoption revolution and it is mostly being used for overseas clients. The report says, “There is a correlation between most mature construction organizations (stages 3 and above) in Asia/Pacific and their usage of BIM-based workflows – the higher the maturity, the higher the proportion of BIM-based workflows usage in daily operations."
In India notable structures that have made use of the BIM technology includes Bangalore Airport and the Delhi Metro Rail but the industry as a whole is lagging in this regard.
Software investment trends
Construction companies in India are increasingly turning to new technologies to speed up their digital transformation progress. Project management, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and client relationship management (CRM) have emerged as the core areas for planned software investments by construction enterprises. They are also waking up to the potential of increasing investments in predictive analytics/big data, internet of things, and 3D printing.
Where do Indian construction companies stand in the digital transformation curve?
IDC has defined digital transformation as “the application of third platform technologies such as cloud, mobile, big data and social coupled with organizational, operational and business model innovation to create new ways of operating and growing businesses." The digital transformation process has been categorized into five stages where stage 1, called the Ad Hoc stage represents companies whose digital initiatives are poorly aligned with enterprise strategy and do not focus on customer experiences. Stage 5, called the digital disruptor stages includes enterprises that have been leading the charge in terms of usage of new digital technologies and have been driving business innovation by building a healthy ecosystem of awareness and feedback.
According to IDC’s findings, more than 70% of the companies are in stages 1 and 2 and only 3% of the companies have successfully traversed the digital transformation journey.
Roadblocks in ushering digital technologies and industry-specific problems
The construction space in India has been relatively slow in the adaptation of relevant technologies. The Autodesk-IDC report throws light on the five major problems that have been plaguing the sector in terms of reaping the benefits of digital technologies.
According to the report, for 47% of construction companies in India developing digital capabilities and skills across the organization remains the top digital challenge, about 42% are facing troubles with respect to creating a strategic roadmap for digital investments. Building the right organizational structure remains a pain point for 41%.
Besides organizational and industry-specific concerns, companies believe that the construction phases involving planning and briefing, design development, site execution, documentation as the construction phases that require the maximum improvement.
Digital construction solutions for improved performance
The Autodesk-IDC study showed a rising conviction in the construction industry about the benefits of digital construction solutions. 25% of respondents said digital tools can enhance overall project management and performance and 16% acquiesced that it could help in scheduling and timing.
However, despite acknowledging the positive changes that can be ushered through digital technological solutions, the study revealed that India’s organizations only use digital construction solutions in 50% or less of their projects, with 5% not using them at all.
Future of construction companies
The study states, “35% of construction companies are planning to establish this roadmap within the next 12 months, highlighting how DX is a priority for construction companies in the country. However, 24% still have no plans to do so."
The ease with which companies can participate in the digital transformation movement largely depends on the investments they are willing to make in new technologies on tools. Only 9% of India’s construction organizations spend more than 5% of their annual turnover on technology which is way lower than the 22% average clocked by the Asia Pacific region.
The global economy has been clobbered by COVID-19. Given that infrastructure development is an important factor in economic growth, it has become the need of the hour for the construction sector to jump on to the digital transformation bandwagon.