How digital technology drives success in E&C

March 12, 2021 | 3 minute read
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 Doubling down on digital technology Digital technology is sparking widespread disruption across industries—including engineering and construction (E&C). We’re at the start of a Schumpeterian cycle of “creative destruction”. The phrase—coined by economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942—describes how replacing outdated products and processes generates productivity growth in the long run. To survive (and thrive) in this new reality, E&C firms must double down on their digital strategies and activities—including the creation of ecosystems and other forward-looking alliances.

Digital strategy benefits

We’ve already witnessed digital transformation disrupt automotive manufacturing, the entertainment industry, and print publications. The engineering and construction industry is poised to embrace digital technology after decades of slow productivity growth. The benefits of implementing a fully-fledged digital strategy are huge for the construction value chain. BCG estimates that within 10 years, full-scale digital transformation in nonresidential construction will result in an annual cost saving of $0.7 trillion to $1.2 trillion (13-21%) in the engineering and construction phases and $0.3-$0.5B (10-17%) in the operations phase. These are exciting numbers if the E&C industry acts now and capitalizes on future opportunities

Advancing the asset life cycle with digital technology

Thanks to a strong technological wave, the E&C industry is bolstering digital transformation and advancing all points of the asset life cycle, including:

  • Operations: BIM-enhanced O&M is benefitting from “a digital twin” created from data captured across the project lifecycle

How digital technology will expand beyond the construction value chain

Organizations can gather information flowing across the value chain and the entire life cycle to full take advantage of big data. Advanced analytics can also help enhance building design, predict potential project risks, enable real-time decision making, and support the planning and management of future projects. These technological advances will expand beyond the construction value chain and impact:

  • wider society: reducing construction costs
  • the environment: improving the use of scarce materials and improving the eco-efficiency of buildings over time
  • the economy: by narrowing the global infrastructure gap and boosting economic development in general

The key to unlocking these values is adoption. In partnership with Aconex and BCG, the GIC report explores how digital transformation will shift the E&C industry and provides insight into common challenges that many organizations face and case studies from global E&C leaders. The path to digital transformation requires:

  1. a critical assessment of the digital ecosystem and your organization’s strategic direction
  2. implementing standards across the value chain
  3. attracting digital talent to drive technological change and innovate
  4. digital adoption across the organization from C-level to new hires
  5. qualitative and quantitative measures to develop benchmarks and create true value

How Bechtel, AECOM, and Chiyoda have leveraged digital technology

The GIC report shares more details on each of these points and includes examples of successful digital transformation programs led by innovative companies—including Bechtel, AECOM and Chiyoda—that will help your organization and the industry take another leap forward.

Five Steps to Digital Transformation: a must-see webinar

I’ll be discussing the report with Dexter Bachelder from Aconex and Jim Dray-- an AECOM veteran in the upcoming webinar on March 13. Join us!  

Santiago Ferrer

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