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Expert Insight News

Constructing the Next Big Digital Transformation

by Hany Aly, Executive Vice President Enterprise Business, Commercial, du

While many industries have radically modernized their processes, the construction sector remains one of the most stagnant major industries in the world. With many manual methods still in use that were first deployed in past centuries, the industry is one that is ripe for digital transformation.

As a result of slow adaptations to the digital world, productivity in the sector is falling in many markets, the construction workforce is shrinking, and the demand for housing construction continually outpaces supply. According to industry research from JB Knowledge, 70% of construction firms dedicate just 1 percent or less of their revenue to technology. To complicate matters further, only around 50% of planned activities on construction sites are completed in line with proposed schedules.

However, in the UAE, rapid technological evolutions are sweeping the nation, largely in part to the government’s agendas to attract innovation and create a world-leading smart city infrastructure. With the rise of next-generation technologies in key industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and ICT, companies in the construction sector have a growing array of digital applications and sector-specific use cases at their disposal.

To build the sector up through digitization instead of letting its foundations sink, industry players can reduce current pain points, boost productivity, and save time and costs by adopting and investing in future-facing technologies to augment their transformation journeys.

For a rapid industrial overhaul to take place, this requires a foundation to be laid that enables these emerging technologies to be used to full effect. As dynamic connectivity and intelligent networks become a reality, thanks to progressions from within the telecommunications sector, the ability for other sectors to harness improved speeds and capabilities for digital transformation is mounting significantly.

This is supported by a new connected reality being implemented by network operators. As advanced 5G networks bring smart city visions to life, we are witnessing an upheaval in the way our cities are planned, designed and built. According to research conducted by Frost & Sullivan, smart city projects globally are expected to create business opportunities with a market value of over US$2 trillion by 2025.

This spells big opportunity for the construction sector to revamp its approach towards technological adoption.

The total value of the construction project pipeline in the UAE stands at US$1.3 trillion, research by GlobalData has found. With smart building technologies and state of the art sensors shaping the nation’s future city infrastructure – through smart projects and systems.

These smart projects require smart construction. Despite increasingly sophisticated building designs and state of the art communities being created, the construction sector’s digitization efforts leave little to be desired. This is why developing intelligent solutions and staying at the forefront of next generation technologies is essential for the industry to transform in the decades to come.

By innovating with an eye to adopting new technologies, construction players in the UAE are shaking the ill-performing monikers cast against the industry in the past. They’re doing this through investing in nascent technologies such as IoT and Machine learning amidst others, which hold large potential for the sector to flourish in the future. With IoT platform innovations, the proliferation of connected devices and sensors is powering efficiencies in everything from Asset Tracking Management, to monitoring projects in real-time to detect on-site issues and create insights and data for devising future efficiencies.

With AI innovations in building technology, these are allowing designers to develop complex composite materials and construction methods. As a city at the forefront of design innovation, AI is playing a vital role in automating the design process for Dubai’s future and redefining how its buildings are engineered. AI-based 3D printing technologies are advancing in line with the government’s Dubai 3D printing strategy, which is targeting 25 percent of the city’s buildings to be constructed using 3D printing technology by 2030.

New technologies can radically redefine how companies operating in the sector digitize their design processes, construction systems and techniques. By successfully adopting the right mix of technology relevant to a project, this will give industry players new tools that can be leveraged to digitally transform the sector, allowing for wiser decision-making and data planning while reducing costs and saving time. Ultimately, this will result in the creation of a competitive edge for all stakeholders.

Digital is everywhere. In a digitally pervasive country like the UAE, missing the innovation wave can be costly in the long run. To build the sector up through digitization, industry players can reduce current pain points and boost productivity across the board by adopting future-facing innovations. While there’s not one particular technology that can impact change on its own, the collective force of multiple next-generation technologies possesses the power to overhaul the construction sector’s aging processes. Most importantly, the connectivity infrastructure is in place for construction companies to take the leap towards adopting new-age tech.

Driving any industry towards digitization requires a progressive rethink towards incorporating technological innovations. Being able to leverage this in a country pioneering smart city visions could bring rewarding outcomes.


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