For many years, the Gulf construction industry has been criticised for its failure to change. Even in the face of widespread problems in its traditional practices that were exposed by the slowdown in the region’s projects market after 2015, very few contractors, clients or consultants were willing to risk innovating despite much talk about the need to do so.
It has taken a global pandemic to change the picture. Over the past 18 months, the lockdowns, supply chain disruption, and project delays caused by Covid-19 have been the catalyst for the digital transformation in the region’s architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sectors.
The move to working from home and to a ‘distributed workplace’ has accelerated the adoption of digital processes ranging from e-commerce and online video calls to cloud-based software services for operations.
“The restrictions imposed by the global pandemic led us to think about how we will communicate effectively without site visits and face-to-face interactions. We started looking at alternative solutions to stay connected and ways to improve business during this difficult time. Digital solutions allowed us to minimise paperwork and eliminate the time consuming aspects of our projects. We started using drones, remote management software and remote photography to update progress,” says Jason Sams, General Manager Construction, Khansaheb.
It is a turning point for the region’s projects industry. In terms of construction and project delivery, these changes together with other macroeconomic, industry, design, and technology trends offer an opportunity to change, and to eradicate inefficient outdated practices.
The transformation of any industry calls for a change in corporate culture that includes going beyond managing survival to reimagining their business strategy and being prepared for a fundamentally different ‘next normal’.
“The biggest shift over the past 18 months has been the mindset towards digitalisation. Our customers understand that there is a need to transform and the conversation has now moved to exploring how and what to digitise,” says Naji Atallah, Head of Construction and Industries, Autodesk.
It is important for industry stakeholders to understand how they can align their digital investments to enable the continuity of work, particularly in an industry that has traditionally been very resistant to digitalisation.
Digital transformation in the AEC sector
The latest MEED webinar in collaboration with construction technology leader Autodesk examines this transformation of businesses in the AEC sector across the region.
With insights on structural effects of these shifts, the webinar discusses strategies to enable leaders to navigate digital business, empower people, and build strong and resilient ecosystems.
The webinar is joined by Jason Sams, General Manager Construction, Khansaheb and Naji Atallah, Head of Construction and Industries, Autodesk.
During the webinar Sams shares a real-world business model transformation story on navigating the challenges of rapid digitalisation and offers his recommendations on improving project delivery, increasing efficiencies and enabling remote operations through digital investments.
The webinar also includes insights from Atallah who discusses the factors that are triggering an industry overhaul and the key investment opportunities for construction companies to raise their business acumen and enhance operational efficiency.
To keep up with the pace of change, the panelists stress on the need to assess current project needs and anticipate future ones before investing in new technology.
Watch the MEED webinar “Redefining strategies for growth in the new normal” to get crucial insights into the transformation of the AEC sector and an assessment on how to be prepared for its evolution over the next five years.
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