Although architecture and construction design are highly digitised sectors, construction remains a bricks-and-mortar industry. Traditionally, this has divided the world of construction into “tech” and “no-tech” areas: Whilst the construction project’s design, planning and day-to-day administration functions are done in offices, work on the construction site itself has traditionally been disconnected.
With smartphones and tablets in the hands of everyone from CEOs to contractors, there is a growing need for communication platforms to link everyone involved in the planning and building of a project. In the race to keep up with technology, those who don’t embrace digitisation in every area of the business risk becoming redundant.
Disrupt or be disrupted
Here are three reasons why the construction industry is poised for digital disruption across the Asia-Pacific region:
1. Government-mandated change
Governments globally are seeing the need to steer the construction industry toward a digital future. The UK’s ‘Digital Built Britain’ program, for example, leads the country’s digital transformation of the “built environment”. Mandating the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) software on all public sector projects, the decision led to the UK government and the broader construction industry working in tandem to develop the industry’s skills, standards and tools while dramatically reducing the cost of social infrastructure.
Taking its lead from this initiative, Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand (SCCANZ) believes that data-driven infrastructure is now a national priority for both countries. The organisation’s ‘Digital Built Australia’ policy aims for greater productivity within the construction sector by adopting technology and data management solutions such as BIM and the Internet of Things.
2. Legacy systems are holding companies back
The seamless flow of documents and information is essential for effective communication and decision-making. Construction workers know too well that delays — caused by anything from bad weather to industrial disputes and disjointed communication — can have a crippling effect on a project.
Individual departments tend to have their own processes and data systems, which are often incompatible. In a construction project, this means information such as plans, contracts, permits and health and safety documents exist in silos. An intelligent enterprise content management (ECM) platform acts as a hub that connects these different systems, allowing them to communicate and update information simultaneously in real time. This ensures that stakeholders have a complete view of necessary files, rather than having to search through different systems to find what they need (and then double-checking the documents to ensure they contain the latest revisions).
Using a tailored ECM solution ensures documents that form the backbone of the construction industry — including invoices, delivery records, contractor credentials, agreements and guides — are not only securely stored, but easy to find at a moment’s notice. Instant access to information allows stakeholders to make decisions on the fly – wherever they are, from almost any device – minimising delays and keeping projects running smoothly.
3. Rise in AI and machine learning
Before we start thinking about robots taking over a building project, let’s define what artificial intelligence in construction really is and why it’s a valuable tool. Machine learning – which Emerj defines as “the science of getting computers to learn and act like humans do, and improve their learning over time in autonomous fashion” – is the most influential form of AI.
Beyond mere storage of documents, ECM has been able to leverage machine learning in the form of intelligent data capture. This means the system “learns” what is expected of all the documents involved in the running of the business.
For example, when the system receives an invoice, it knows to classify and validate it: Is this amount what we were expecting? Is this supplier registered with us? Has this payment been approved?
If there are no discrepancies, the invoice will be automatically paid, speeding processing dramatically.
Embrace the digital future
Whilst some players in the construction industry may initially be reluctant to embrace change, the digital push will only continue to accelerate. Industry players that adapt and invest in scalable solutions today will ensure they remain efficient, competitive and profitable in the long run.
This article, by Eugene Chng, originally appeared on Hyland.com. Inpute Technologies are proud partners of Hyland in Ireland. Our team of certified OnBase professionals are available to discuss your document content and case management and workflow requirements. OnBase, by Hyland is a single enterprise information platform for managing content, processes and cases. OnBase has transformed thousands of organisations worldwide by empowering them to become more agile, efficient and effective.