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The CBI has surveyed business leaders about their views on digital.
New business models, digitally enabled trade and automation will pose real and tangible challenges to how we do business. Sectors across the economy are being transformed at a rapid pace from shared transportation to new online challenger banks. The construction and infrastructure sector is not immune to these shifts.
Technologies such as cognitive learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will fundamentally transform society. The current pace of change in technology is unrivalled and individuals, companies, and governments are under pressure to keep up.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that AI’s disruption of society is happening 10 times faster and at 300 times the scale of the industrial revolution, suggesting AI will have 3,000 times the impact.
Half of businesses the CBI surveyed believe AI will fundamentally transform their industry. No business can afford to ignore the transformative economic and productivity benefits of innovation.
In today’s world AI is most often associated with Silicon Valley tech companies or autonomous cars. But like any technology AI is a tool that can be embraced by any sector and can add exponential value in industries with historically low levels of productivity - such as construction.
The economic prize is there to be seized as productivity in the global infrastructure sector has remained static at 1% for the past 20 years
Adoption of digital technologies coupled with increased levels of innovation can fundamentally transform the construction industry as well as – and more importantly - address some of the challenges and opportunities the sector is facing in the next few years. This includes getting major infrastructure projects built as well as the implications of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
There are already fantastic examples of innovative and transformative construction projects, such as Crossrail, HS2 and Heathrow Terminal 5. But more needs to be done to filter this behaviour to the entire sector as well as across the supply chain. Much of this is linked to behavioural change.
To encourage innovation and the adoption of digital technologies the industry needs to collaborate more. In a fragmented sector this collaboration must be driven by every client, private or public, tier one contractor - the entire supply chain right down to the end user.
The CBI has set up a Future Leaders Group to develop recommendations focused on improving collaboration through digitisation within the sector. The work of this group will complement existing work, such as Construction 2025, by providing the view from industry.
The group comprises representatives from across the supply chain, from design to sub-contractors, is expected to report to the CBI’s Construction Council, a 30-35 strong forum of chief executives, in November.
The Future Leaders’ Group comprises 18 rising stars under 35, drawn from companies spanning the supply chain, from major construction firms to small and medium sized businesses.
The group represents a wide spectrum of jobs from across the construction industry, including construction products, contractors and services and they are examining the issue from four different perspectives: procurement and contract structures, research and innovation, skills and digitisation.
Digitisation and AI offer the construction industry a catalyst for increased efficiencies, enhanced quality assurance and new means of work. The opportunity is there to integrate disjointed supply chains while creating a real-time feedback loop on construction progress, just-in-time delivery of materials and the delivery of crucial data to onsite contractors.
The sector can learn how to adopt and embed these technologies by looking across the piece to how other business are embracing AI.
So, what do UK businesses think about AI? The CBI has surveyed business leaders to understand how ready companies are to adopt – and adapt – to new digital technologies. We found:
A third of businesses (33%) self-categorise themselves as digital pioneers - labelling themselves as early adopters and innovators.
Government can help unleash the power of AI both for construction and engineering but also the wider business environment if it:
UK business can kick start their own AI adoption journey by:
To secure the UK as the digital hub of the world we need many more businesses closing the gap with these ‘pioneers’ because the global race has well and truly started.
Go to our Digital transformation campaign section for more resources.
Don’t miss our free 20 July webinar: Artificial intelligence in the built environment. Register now.
If you would like to learn more about the CBI’s work on digitalising the construction sector please contact Fiona Geskes, Senior Construction Sector Adviser.
For more information on the CBI’s work on digital adoption by businesses and AI please contact Shane Murphy, Senior Policy Adviser.