Where human meets machine: digital maturity in construction
New technologies and tools are driving increased automation in construction, leaving organisations asking where they go from here. A Digital Maturity Assessment framework helps answer that question, providing a routemap for the future that integrates both digital and human capability.
Construction is digitalising as it looks to increase productivity and performance, with technologies, data, tools and platforms playing an increasing role in driving improved decision making and ways of working for projects, programmes and enterprises.
But progress among some organisations remains slow and levels of technology adoption vary widely.
A recent survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that 40 percent of global industry respondents were not using building information modelling (BIM) or digital twin driven processes and practices for six key functional areas including cost estimation, prediction planning and control.
The survey also highlights that, where they were being deployed, adoption levels varied significantly across individual functions, with technologies being most commonly used to enhance progress monitoring and health, safety and wellbeing.
Having rapidly accelerated digitalisation to respond to the disruption of the pandemic, many organisations are now considering where they go from here in order to continue their digital journey.
There are many potential routes, options being extended by the continuing growth in software, processing power, innovation, access and affordability.
An essential roadmap
Organisations need to reflect on their investment decisions and reassess where they are and want to be.
A Digital Maturity Assessment is the essential roadmap for organisations, projects, programmes, enterprises and built-asset systems, such as smart systems, providing a framework for identifying strengths and key areas for improvement while aligning human and digital capability.
It gives the in-depth understanding needed to inform both a high-level digital vision and strategy and a targeted improvement plan, providing a benchmark against which readiness to adopt digital solutions and ongoing progress can be measured.
Organisations can undergo a Digital Maturity Assessment at any stage on their digital journey, whether they are just starting or have reached an advanced level of maturity.
By undertaking assessment before making major digital investments, organisations can drive the right solutions and ensure they align with business objectives. Assessment sets out the next steps in integrating human and digital capability to drive automation of construction management processes and practices.
Clients face a number of challenges along their digital journey:
- Cost: Digital investments are regarded as a cost, rather than as an investment that delivers value in increased efficiency, improved decision-making and other advantages. Many organisations in construction lack a dedicated research and development budget to support implementation of technology
- Taking people with you: Within organisations, teams and individuals can perceive the implementation of technology as damaging to existing roles and expertise, rather than as an opportunity to enhance expertise and performance
- Lack of capability: Where digital transformation is delivered on a project-by-project basis, progress may stall once a project is complete because the hero individual or team leading that change moves on and their knowledge has not been transferred adequately through the organisation
- Making the right choices: In this world of fast-paced digital innovation and trends, it is easy to be attracted by new technology. Organisations and projects need to ensure digital capacity grows in line with broader business objectives.
A framework for human-digital integration
Our framework enables human and digital resources to be developed, aligned and integrated, as the assessment process measures each resource against nine key criteria, including people culture and leadership and product and technology fit.
This human-centric approach recognises that the navigation of people, talent and culture is critical for successful implementation of digital transformation.
Technology adoption across an organisation is far from uniform, with onsite applications commonly trailing those of office-based functions, such as communications. The framework’s five-point grading approach allows key gaps across functions to be identified and prioritised.
The assessment’s recommendations will depend on an organisation’s degree of digital maturity and individual gaps, but commonly extend beyond technology solutions to investment in areas such as training and governance processes.
A comprehensive and independent perspective
The assessment represents a point in time along the digital journey and organisations are likely to have their own objectives - some may want to be fit-for-digital while others will want to be fully-fledged digital-first businesses.
Whatever the destination, the framework gives a comprehensive understanding of the current level of maturity, how it compares with leading digital practice, and how it can be improved.
It equips organisations for the future by:
- Giving an independent perspective: Action is not driven by a software provider or an internal technology and data team, but by the organisation’s own purpose and objectives
- Increasing understanding: Assessment enables organisations to understand the level of effort and investment they need to commit to build the right level of digital maturity to deliver on their objectives
- Recognising value: The comprehensive view enables the value of digital ways of working to be fully understood, so that they are not seen purely through the lens of first cost
- Aligning human and digital resources: Assessment recognises the crucial role of both leadership and workers in delivering digital ambitions
- Providing a benchmark for continuous improvement: The process enables clients to chart progress through regular assessment and to compare their digital maturity against peer organisations or projects.
Ready for change
The construction industry is experiencing many changes as new technologies and solutions emerge, collaborative ways of working take hold and organisations invest in their digital future.
Both organisations and their people need to be prepared to embrace the change. Before making a significant investment in new technologies, it is important to gain a clear picture of the overall objective, the value of that technology and the human resource needed to realise anticipated benefits.
A Digital Maturity Assessment is a vital tool that enables organisations and projects to step into construction’s new, more automated world with digital and human resources fully aligned, integrated and ready to make the most of the opportunities ahead.