Platform or tools? The path to construction digitization
Digital transformation is a marathon, not a 100-meter sprint.BIM Implementation Strategies
Lessons learned from the automotive industry
Back in the 1990s, advanced manufacturing companies in the automotive industry found themselves facing a challenge. Back then, their operating and software systems were much more fragmented than they are today, operating in a technology landscape with hundreds of different applications that required integration. This process was cumbersome, as each application may have had different operating systems, different computer languages, incompatible function bridging, and a slew of other differences. All of this led to inflated overhead costs as the separate software, and their respective applications, needed bridging for the data and information to flow with relatively smooth interconnectivity. Fundamentally, this mix of technical infrastructure doesn't scale very well and it's very expensive to run, and this was the crux of the challenge they faced. Scaling up was hindered by operating system fragmentation.
Later, the industry introduced common platforms where designers and engineers could collaborate along with internal stakeholders and supply chain elements. Risks were identified and eliminated early on instead of distributing them across the supply chain. Subsequently, the industry became the leading example for conglomerates that we know today: highly competitive, highly efficient, and with fast innovation cycles.
The construction industry, by contrast, despite vast improvements in frontline technology and practices, remains fairly stagnant in terms of productivity. Yes, we have adopted digital tools and we have traded in our pens and paper for software applications, but fundamentally, no real impact on the productivity index has been made.
The ‘spaghetti’ technical landscape doesn't scale
A majority of the companies in the AEC industry, whether general contractors or project owners, still operate in a highly fragmented way. Different systems specializing in different jobs and usually not integrated with one another, are being used simultaneously across the organization’s project management and workscape, causing data to be dispersed from multiple sources. These systems are good at dividing the work up into chunks but less effective in making sure everyone’s work fits together. As a result, data is held in separate system silos by different teams and so time is wasted transferring this data between the different systems. Similar to the automotive industry before, this lack of digitalization hinders not just the collaborative effort of teams and key functions, but also slows the operation, and this in turn has become one of the root reasons for stagnant productivity in our industry.
Unlike the automotive industry however, the construction process is causal by nature. Whether it's the developer, the architects, engineers, the contractor, or the supply chain, changes during construction are frequent. And when changes occur it is likely there will be a material impact on quantities, cost, and schedules. Schedules in particular are an element that clearly exemplify the difficulties that can be encountered when they are not integrated into one system. As schedules in one area of construction change this creates a knock-on effect that will impact most or all other subsequent schedules.
Integrated platforms are the way forward
Over half of construction companies change their construction management software every two years or less and one of the top reasons is that the software no longer supports the size of their company. And that's exactly where platforms, instead of tools, come into play. According to a Mckinsey article, “From an industry perspective, the growth in platforms implies that large companies will need to continue to scale to remain competitive, while smaller companies offering point solutions will need to simultaneously consider their integration within the broader ecosystem in addition to the core value proposition of their technology. Failure to account for these trends could adversely affect revenue growth and, more broadly, competitive positioning in the market.”
There are two types of organizations
From our point of view, there are two types of organizations: those who believe that data is a byproduct of what they do and those who recognize that data has a material impact on their competitiveness. The latter are the ones striving to collect, analyze, and use data to become data-driven, pushing themselves into an exponential productivity drive.
Integrated platforms vs disparate tools
• Platforms allow for a single source of truth while tools inevitably lead to data silos.
• Platforms create structured data and connected workflows while tools generate fragmented data and disconnected workflows.
• Platforms are scalable with integration capabilities while tools pose barriers to scalability.
• Platforms fuel Business Intelligence and speed up AI and automation processes while tools hinder such possibilities.
• Platforms are future proof, setting you up for long-term success.
Managing everything in an integrated enterprise platform
The MTWO platform emphasizes integrated project delivery. At the core of the platform sits data. Since MTWO Cloud is an enterprise data management platform, it's about collecting and aggregating data from disparate silos, and utilizing data to connect people, resources, and processes across an organization and into projects.
On top of the enterprise platform, MTWO has the necessary applications for the planning, building and operation stages of any project that enables key stakeholders and team members to use purpose-specific applications to do their work. These applications are inherently integrated, allowing teams to plan, build, and operate in the most efficient way.
As an enterprise platform, it's critical that we collect, analyze, learn, and bring that learning back into our cloud. Through these methods organizations can make systemic progress and use templates to drive exponential growth.
From a data point of view, real-time access to information is critical. A majority of construction projects today run in a reactive nature because they don't have that real-time data integration approach. This approach, however, is secured over the MTWO platform, and with the Business Intelligence dashboarding capabilities, insights into any challenge, scenario, or event can be easily sought after. All aspects can be populated into purpose specific dashboards that enables key decision makers to make the right choice based on data rather than just experience.
Learn lessons from past projects to boost efficiency for future projects
An integrated platform also means lessons learned from each project are captured. We can bring this knowledge back into our project templates and with that, we can speed up the execution of projects as the project progresses. Essentially, this means that you can design smarter, manage smarter, and build smarter, and as this translates into increased productivity, a reduction in the overall cost of a construction project will be seen.
Fundamentally, this is about enabling organizations to plan better and interconnect all their key players while providing information and insights so that they can efficiently manage their projects in real-time. It's about ensuring visibility and collaboration and making smart choices. So, team members can collaborate in real-time and focus on creating value, instead of rectifying issues. Whether you start from zero or have legacy applications in place, you need one platform that drives your long-term digitization success and helps you build an efficient and sustainable future.
When we accomplish this goal, the AEC industry will match the automotive industry in both its efficiency and productivity. Those that don’t digitalize, will no doubt be left behind.