In the past decade, digitisation in construction has seen a high growth rate. However, this growth rate is decreasing, according to a publication by ING. Looking at European countries, Belgium and The Netherlands are at the top when it comes to digitisation in construction. More than 40% of Belgium and Dutch construction companies say they use an ERP system. This is well above the average for the surrounding countries (the runner-up, France, scores 30%). Belgium and Dutch construction companies also score relatively highly when it comes to using Cloud services and employing their own ICT specialists.
Unfortunately, that digital pace has slowed down a little in recent years. Until 2016, digitalisation still increased by around 10% annually. This was mainly due to the rise of mobile internet, which is essential for working on site. At the same time, we see that digitalisation in the construction industry lags behind other sectors. Relatively less software, (big) data and artificial intelligence are used in construction. This is also reflected in the workforce. Only 2% of construction companies hired ICT staff in 2021 compared to 4% in industry and 8% in the total business sector. In the same report, ING mentions three reasons why we believe there are opportunities to keep up the momentum.
However, this might result in eventually lagging behind in terms of digitisation and being unable to catch up with developments in the sector.
Recognise the need for digitisation
According to the ING report, there are some boards of construction companies that still do not recognise the need to digitise further in order to reap the benefits. At the moment, business is busy. Logically, then, the focus is on planning rather than investing in digitisation. In addition, developments occur so quickly that there is a big chance that in a few years time, you will be using outdated digital technology again. It can be a strategy to wait and invest when the growth pains of the technology have been solved. However, this strategy might result in eventually lagging behind in terms of digitisation and being unable to catch up with developments in the sector. We think you can improve cooperation and trust in each other, by facilitating digital platforms. That makes building a lot easier.
Create awareness and the right mindset
As a first step, awareness, the right mindset and intention of everyone in the company is essential. You have to realise that digitisation makes processes more efficient. This requires a change of culture that everyone needs to adhere to. If not everyone records all their designs, process phases and changes, digitisation will not work. As a side-effect, (other) employees will also lose their confidence in it. When you do, digitisation helps to work together more accurately.
Hire the right staff
Shortage of suitable personnel hinders construction companies from (further) digitalisation. The combination of sufficient ICT knowledge and specific knowledge of the construction sector makes the pool of suitable personnel very small. Compared with other sectors, many construction companies have a relatively old workforce. Older employees often have more difficulty using new digital processes (resulting in internal resistance) than younger employees. This is a challenge that the entire industry faces. So it pays to invest in this knowledge. If not in own staff, then in hiring external specialists.
Different software from different suppliers is then used in different parts of the construction process, which means that the data cannot be properly distributed.
Make your systems work together
Many construction companies that embrace digitisation have used many different systems over the years, which could make linking data difficult. Different software from different suppliers is then used in different parts of the construction process, which means that the data cannot be properly distributed both within and outside the company. The next step for these companies is to link these different systems and to open up the data. This can prevent data silos, where large amounts of data are not used in the right way.
Digitisation with Prostream
At Pro4all we are familiar with the latest challenge in construction and we are continuously working on solutions. We are convinced we can improve cooperation by facilitating smart platforms. This makes building a lot easier. That is why we have combined our best tools in Prostream. Within this tool, you communicate clearly, you map problems and quality in a crystal-clear way, and you make a tight planning. And only together can we make building easier. Curious? Read the experiences of our users.