Construction organizations are using innovative approaches to develop technology solutions and convince stakeholders to adopt these solutions to solve real-world problems. This was the focus of the RICS Insight Series third panel on May 12.
While these initiatives had started before the industry was gripped by the global health and economic crises, the events of recent weeks have added additional impetus. Most in the industry are no longer interested in returning to business as usual and are creating pathways to innovation that will help reimagine construction.
Moderated by Georgia Bergers (MRICS), Partnerships and Field Marketing Lead for HammerTech, the panel included Alice Leung, Investment Associate at Brick and Mortar Ventures and Henning Roedel, Western Region Innovation Lead for DPR Construction.
Highlighting the importance of the untapped value of partnership for contech development and adoption, Georgia Bergers started the conversation by stating that “construction players who create partnerships with digital experts will be better placed to succeed in the more agile post COVID environment.”
While several stakeholders in the construction value chain understand the pain points, there is always a resistance to jointly solve these problems by making processes and technology work in tandem to create value. Henning Roedel from DPR Construction described how they had overcome this challenge. He stated, “we have an innovation model that works at the intersection of people, process, technology and data.” This approach to innovation has worked for DPR as they adopt new technology that begins when a project team tries to fix a broken process and then to share results of their pilot with the broader regional and national teams. Keeping the project teams involved is key to achieving success, he stressed.
Alice Leung agreed with this approach. “It is the construction teams that have a pulse on what is going on and what are the challenges that they are most motivated to solve,” she said explaining that in her experience, it is crucial to ensure the technology solution delivers value for all members of the value chain. Alice explained how a start-up from Australia is using technology to track materials and products from cradle to cradle—construction teams can see these materials and products from production in China to a job site anywhere in the world.
The experts felt that the teams looking to adopt new technology must be clear-sighted. They must keep sight of the problem and question whether the tool is the right solution. Is there evidence that all participants in the pilot benefited and that the overall process was improved? Selecting the right tool and the right set of partners is, therefore, very crucial.
Alice told the audience that the venture capital ecosystem has a crucial role to play. The ecosystem can help develop meaningful partnerships and ensure that tech start-ups are engaged with the right partners to build their technology and land that first key account.
In closing, Georgia Bergers said, “all construction industry stakeholders are now striving for technology solutions to help them work better and faster.” This goal has become more evident as construction restarts. The participants in a live poll during the session agreed with this sentiment as 89% of those who responded either strongly agreed or agreed that their organizations are carefully crafting a digital transformation strategy. Contech is likely to play a crucial role in this transformation.
Anil Sawhney FRICS
Director of Infrastructure
Anil Sawhney is the Director of the Infrastructure Sector for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). He leads the emerging RICS initiative and strategy on placing and positioning the Institution within the field of commercial management of infrastructure projects globally. His primary focus is on the (economic) infrastructure sector, defined by the RICS as transport, utilities, energy and similar fields. Anil is involved in the production of infrastructure sector’s body of knowledge, standards, guidance, practice statements, education, and training. He’s also a Visiting Professor at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. Dr Sawhney is also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) of the UK. Anil has a rich mix of academic, research, industry and consulting experience gathered working in the USA, India, Canada, the UK, and Australia.