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Construction industry digital transformation success hinges on human-centric implementation, says InEight Outlook

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The research reveals that 96 percent of respondents are either very or fairly optimistic about their organization's growth prospects for the next year, up from 92 percent in 2021.

InEight Inc. has launched its second annual Global Capital Projects Outlook. The Outlook draws insights from research conducted with 300 large capital project owners and contractor construction professionals across the Americas, Europe, and APAC.

The research reveals that 96 percent of respondents are either very or fairly optimistic about their organization's growth prospects for the next year, up from 92 percent in 2021. Digital technologies (57 percent) and data collection, analytics, and insights (53 percent) offer top opportunities for growth; however, 93 percent of respondents said that their experience of change management left room for improvement, signalling a need for a more sophisticated, human-centric approach to technology implementation.

Of particular concern, respondents identified uneven or sporadic implementation (58 percent), process and data integration issues (54 percent), poor communication (51 percent), and technical and system limitations (51 percent) as the top frustrations caused by technology implementation.

Similar trends were also identified when asked about barriers to greater technology investment, with respondents identifying the challenge of integrating with existing systems, and a lack of technically skilled talent to smooth the process, as key issues.

"Everyone we speak to is talking about growth opportunities for both owners and contractors," says, commenting on the Outlook, Jake Macholtz, CEO of InEight. "The optimism, resilience, and confidence of the industry is almost tangible it's so strong. This is especially encouraging given the economic backdrop organizations are operating within and the implementation challenges associated with digital transformation. It seems to be that the prospect of leveraging digital technologies to build a better world is keeping spirits high."

Human-centric transformation

The Outlook found that respondents see digital technology as broadly helpful in their day-to-day roles. Of most benefit: gaining detailed and holistic information on projects and events (51 percent), prioritizing tasks/managing project workflow (50 percent) and giving reassurance that environment, and health and safety (EHS) policies are being followed (54 percent).

Highlighting the need for a human-centric approach, 94 percent of respondents said they have specific concerns about the future of digital transformation. Reduced in-person communication (45 percent), professional experience and human intuition being replaced by technology (43 percent), damage to work-life balance (41 percent), or the replacement of jobs by automation (39 percent) were all front of mind for respondents.

When asked what benefits they hoped digital transformation could deliver in the future, respondents said more automation (49 percent), more control (48 percent), greater strategic insights (47 percent), and better communication (49 percent).

"Respondents are clear on the benefits of digital technologies and eager to realize this new vision of the future but right now the industry is falling short when it comes to managing organizational change, making digital transformation unnecessarily arduous," Macholtz says.

A tenuous operating environment

Against a backdrop of supply chain shortages, inflationary pressure, energy challenges, and war in Ukraine, capital project owners and contractors are unshakably positive about the direction of the industry. Notably, respondents reported a significant increase in construction and capital projects spending (up from 68 percent last year to 76 percent in 2022) while resilience also remains high, with 91 percent of respondents considering their organization to be very or fairly resilient.

However, in a departure from last year's Outlook, the completion of projects on time and on budget has fallen dramatically. On-schedule completion, as reported by contractors, has fallen 16 percent year-on-year from 51 percent to 35 percent, while completion on or under the approved budget has also fallen from 51 percent to 38 percent. Owners are yet to see quite the same impact, reporting 43 percent of projects completed on time, and 45 percent on budget.

Underlining the tenuous global operating environment, respondents highlighted unmanaged or unexpected risk as the most influential factor on whether a project will be completed on time and to budget. 

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