Opinion Piece by Neil Thompson, Programme Director, Construction Innovation Hub

18 June 2021

The case for digital has never been stronger 

Information Management can lead to significant benefits for organisations in the built environment and the wider economy – if we act now.

The challenges we face as a sector are well known: increased demand to help the world build back better as the sector faces a global skills shortage, an urgent need to transition to net zero while recovering from the social and economic costs of the pandemic.

Our just-published report, The Value of Information Management in the Construction and Infrastructure Sector produced by KPMG and Atkins, offers the most compelling evidence to date of the productivity gains and cost savings from Information Management (IM). 

It found that implementing IM in the construction and infrastructure sector today will unlock wider benefits across the whole economy in the future. The study’s analysis of illustrative scenarios of sector-wide adoption of IM suggests that every £1 of direct productivity gain today (2021) in the design, construction and maintenance of built assets could translate into £3.70 in annual UK GDP in 2051.

For years, digital transformation has been championed as key to addressing the productivity challenges faced by the sector, but despite steady central-government take-up, adoption rates in the private sector and local governments have lagged behind. A lack of a strong business case has become an often cited reason for not making the organisation investment in digital.

These organisations should take note that analysis of 11 public and private sector case studies found that the use of IM could potentially secure between £5.10- £6.00 of direct labour productivity gains for every £1 invested in IM, and £6.90 in total cost savings. The evidence also suggests IM could enable cost savings across different stages of the asset lifecycle, ranging from 1.6 per cent to 18 per cent, depending on the lifecycle stage.

The exposure of asset owners to IM sets the stage for wider adoption of other innovations with the potential to transform the construction sector’s traditional approaches. The simple availability of quality data provides a solid platform for the development and application of technologies already bringing value elsewhere (such as Machine Learning and AI).

For organisations developing off-site manufactured solutions, the clarity provided by centralised information approaches equips them to drive closer engagement with global supply chains, streamline the manufacturing process and improve the quality of outcomes for the end customer. For example, affordable housing developer EDAROTH is expecting their use of IM is expected to unlock a 6 per cent saving in the design and construction costs of their housing projects (based on the average cost per house) and a 50% reduction in housing construction time relative to a more traditional build approach.

The imperative to act cannot be ignored. The evidence is clear. Through the Construction Innovation Hub, the support is in place. We must work together to accelerate the adoption of Information Management.

Download the report – The value of Information Management in the construction and infrastructure sector report 

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