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Infrastructure blog

Realising the potential of digital transformation

22 March 2017

Today ICE launches its latest State of the Nation report focused on the digital transformation of UK infrastructure and how fully engaging with digital delivery and smart infrastructure can unlock infrastructure productivity and resilience. Here, we run through the main points of the report.

Realising the potential of digital transformation

Good infrastructure underpins thriving communities and economic growth. It enables peoples’ day to day lives – creating connectivity, access to key utilities, and underpins our social infrastructure. However, global megatrends - population growth, climate change and technology change- are putting pressure on our infrastructure networks and assets.

We can’t build our way out of these new challenges. We have to do more with what we already have. Digital transformation offers a more cost-effective way of adding value to infrastructure than traditional approaches.

We must adopt new integrated digital approaches to managing and operating existing assets and building future infrastructure. And we have to realise the value of ‘the digital twin’ – the data and information we create about an asset for its whole life-time. By realising the value of our data resources we can deliver more productive infrastructure, and optimise our existing assets.

To drive this change both policy makers and industry have a role to play. Alignment of leadership, addressing organisation culture barriers, and ensuring the right balance of skills will be critical. Our report makes recommendations under three headings: productivity, behaviours and resilience.

Infrastructure and increased productivity

Government recognises the link between improving infrastructure services and increased national productivity. However, making the shift towards a more productive nation, where regional differences in productivity are addressed through improved connectivity, requires a number of interventions from government, regulators and industry.

Our report sets out how government can use existing strategies and policies to catalyse change. It promotes a whole life approach to regulation which can incentivise an outcomes based approach to infrastructure delivery, and sets out how industry must change to become more productive and deliver better services.

Be more agile and adapt

The pace of change in digital processes and technologies mean that those responsible for delivering infrastructure have to be more agile and adapt to change in a pragmatic way. Leadership, organisational culture and skills within our sector will determine how we rise to this challenge.

This report sets out how people, processes and technology can be used to optimise and secure the use of digital technology and data. It also sets out how behaviours need to change to embed a long term approach to digital transformation.

Resilience via greater connectivity

On one hand, digital transformation offers a route to greater resilience via greater connectivity, but it also introduces fresh security and resilience challenges which have the potential to adversely impact the performance of our assets and networks. However, it is important that these aspects of digital transformation do not act as a barrier to implementation.

This report establishes methods for managing the tensions between improved infrastructure performance and resilience. It identifies the human and process changes required to embed a security-minded approach to infrastructure delivery, operation and management. It also identifies areas of interdependency between infrastructure sectors and what actions are required to align policies across different sectors.

Now is the time to align government initiatives with a renewed, coordinated commitment from industry to capitalise on the benefits digital transformation can bring to the productivity and resilience of our infrastructure services.

State of the Nation 2017: Digital Transformation

Read the full report at the State of the Nation webpage

Join in the Twitter discussion at @ICE_Engineering #SoNDigital