A MEConstructionNewsANALYSIS by Andrew Skudder, CEO. CCS, Guest Author, warning construction firms of the risks of not digitising operations, posted on April 25, 2019, is republished here for its obvious benefits to the MENA’s development.
With the Middle East construction sector under growing pressure as a result of a tightening economy, construction companies should be looking at ways to streamline their business processes, improve cash flow management and tighten risk management. Those that sharpen internal processes and systems today will be best positioned for an upswing in government and private sector investment in the years to come.
The sector faces numerous challenges – challenging economic growth, shrinking margins, skills shortages, rising resource and labour costs – which means it’s under pressure to start innovating.
Investment in tech is behind the curve
The challenges the industry faces are compounded by the fact that many construction groups have not digitised operations such as cost-consulting. This means they lack visibility into – and control over – the many variables, changes, people and equipment involved in any construction project.
Middle Eastern construction companies should be looking for ways to use technology to drive higher productivity, achieve cost-savings and improve project management to weather a tumultuous time for the industry. However, the lean years of late, have seen IT spending in the construction industry stagnate, despite the accelerating pace of innovation around the world.
For example, adoption of wearables, 3D printing, driverless heavy vehicles, drones and building information modelling is rising in the global construction sector. To take full advantage of these advanced technologies, many local construction companies will first need to modernise their core back-office systems.
They should be looking towards tried and tested solutions for estimating, project control, enterprise accounting and operational costing. These solutions will enable them to drive down the costs of maintaining legacy applications, help them to become more agile and give them clearer real-time visibility into business performance.
Breaking down silos
Construction performance and progress cannot be monitored on financial data alone; engineering information is just as critical. Engineering control includes generating and managing allowable and actual quantities of resources, wastages, manhours of labour, production of equipment and time for construction activities.
Without digitisation, an organisation has no clear indication of the status of the contract because it doesn’t have real-time visibility into these factors. Today’s business solutions can break down the silos, enabling estimators and accountants to produce real time-reporting, and yet continue to work in the language that is meaningful to them.
Integrated back-office systems spanning procurement, project control, cost estimation, sub-contractor management and accounting give construction companies one source and view of the truth, enabling them to manage an entire project with real-time visibility into costs and performance.
Using this data can help construction firms make better strategic and operational decisions. Data-driven insights can enable them to better manage cashflow and project risks, so they can better predict and mitigate payment delays, rising costs and other challenges. It can also help companies to drive higher levels of profitability through better project planning.
Building a foundation for the future
Looking to the future, a robust business solution is also a foundation upon which construction companies can layer drones, robots, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced digital technologies. Such solutions enable construction companies to manage and analyse big data produced by sensors, devices and workers so they can drive productivity and innovation – AI, for example, can help them rapidly process the data to find key insights.
Construction companies should embrace digital transformation to drive higher productivity, improve efficiency and gain a competitive advantage. Transforming their core business with a proven solution will help them prepare for the future, with a possibility that infrastructure spending will show signs of life again in the near future. Now is the time to lay the foundation for the next wave of growth.
Fourth Industrial Revolution is catapulting us towards a connected society.
Improvements in the availability and delivery of communications services means
there are now more than four billion internet users, over half the world’s
digital literacy and skills aren’t spreading as fast as connectivity. And that
increases cyber-risks, widens the gender divide and creates skills shortages.
For example, children living in countries with low ICT penetration are 1.3
times more likely to be involved with cyber-risks than those in countries with
high ICT penetration. By 2022, only 30% of the digital workforce will be women
and the UK alone will need an additional 500,000 workers in digital industries
by 2022. In the US, of the nearly six million jobs expected to require tech
skills in the future, there’s a projected pool of only 3.2 million candidates.
talk to my peers leading multinational organisations, skills and talent
shortages is one of their top concerns, no matter what industry or region they
are based in. It’s easy to see why. 90% of jobs will need digital skills in the
next three years. And at a time when most of our organisations are undergoing a
digital transformation, the digital skills gap is hampering progress in 54% of
our organisations and is costing our economies billions.
a father, what really brought home to me the challenge we face was that 65% of
children starting school today will hold jobs in the future that don’t yet
are no longer enough
though I find that digital literacy and skills are no longer enough. Young
people grow up surrounded by technology, but too many have no idea how it all
works – and don’t fully appreciate how it will shape their futures. They see it
as being geeky, not relevant, too hard or even a waste of their time. If you
talk to non-users of the internet, they don’t talk about not having the right
skills. They talk about it not being for them.
look at our workforce, competencies like data analytics and coding aren’t
always the initial key to getting an exciting job. One of our most promising
young cyber security apprentices, Rachel, studied music, not coding. The
skills, abilities and attitudes Rachel learnt playing the violin are now
helping her flourish in her role in our security team.
rise of digital intelligence
Coalition for Digital Intelligence calls this new requirement ‘digital
intelligence’ – not only technical skills but also abilities related to
managing screen time, critical thinking and digital empathy. Singapore’s
Digital Readiness Blueprint highlights this with its recommendation of spelling
out a set of basic digital skills for everyday activities. These skills include
searching for information on the Web, making cashless payments, using messaging
and digital government services, and spotting fake news and online scams.
the skills gap forecast to quadruple between 2020 and 2030, as leaders,
businesses and governments, we need to build a culture where young people see
tech know-how as the new way to get ahead and make the most of technology’s
power to shape their lives. A culture of creative problem-solving based on
digital capability. That’s why I’m delighted that BT is supporting the
Coalition for Digital Intelligence.
people get more from technology
why we’re scaling up our drive to help people get more from technology through
enabling, inspiring and equipping. Enabling teachers and parents to show the
way, inspiring young people to find technology relevant and interesting and
equipping schools to use technology effectively.
focussed our initial efforts on supporting primary school teachers because they
play a crucial role in setting children’s attitudes and aspirations. We’ve
already trained 63,000 teachers and two million children as part of our
Barefoot Computing project. Free learning materials and games encourage kids’
computational thinking, helping them understand the building blocks of the
digital world, like logic, sequencing, abstraction and programming. Barefoot
resources also help to develop other important digital intelligence skills like
numeracy, literacy, collaboration and problem-solving.
course, it’s not just young children. Amongst teenagers, much of the focus of
digital skills is on staying safe. That’s vital, but we also need to make the
digital world more transparent and empowering. Our innovation hothousing
techniques helped us come up with new ways to support kids understand the
commercial realities of the internet and navigate the digital world with
confidence, answering questions like how companies and YouTube stars make money
online, why gaming is addictive and why they find it difficult to put their
At a time when Globalisation 4.0 needs global, digital citizens, I believe that a lack of digital intelligence is an obstacle for people and the organisations that employ them. We have to address it now to enable people, and our organisations, to succeed in the future.
A TradeArabia article of 2 days ago reported citing Frost & Sullivan’s Vision 2025—Healthcare in the Smart Home that ‘Smart’ness in Health and Wellness at home is increasingly reaching out globally and presumably getting closer to the Persian Gulf. It explains how digital healthcare providers are planning to integrate the recently developed digital solutions in smart homes.
The health and wellness segment of connected homes market revenues is expected to grow from $6.67 billion in 2017 to $22.26 billion by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.3 per cent, a report said.
As healthcare shifts from reactive to proactive care, a huge market is opening up for automation products that can help deliver health and wellness services through smart homes, added the report titled “Vision 2025—Healthcare in the Smart Home” from growth partnership firm Frost & Sullivan.
The ubiquity of broadband connectivity, development of smart sensors, and the decreasing costs of devices have already made it possible to offer aging-in-place, chronic disease management, and post-acute care services in smart homes.
However, digital health vendors are striving to take telehealth to the next level by developing solutions that will allow care givers to check on the health of all the residents of the house, not just the patient’s, monitor diet and nutrition, the environment, and overall wellness, and be integrable with existing and newer systems.
“Patients are conscious of their health quotient and want to be involved in the wellness and disease management,” said Sowmya Rajagopalan, global program director Transformational Health. “With consumerization of healthcare, enabling patients to clinically manage their disease at home has been of crucial importance for care providers and OEMs today as they have made this a reality with the launch of innovation in design, devices, services, and solutions.”
The analysis examines the concept of a smart home delivering healthcare. It segments all the resident profiles and lists the individual health needs that are relevant to healthcare delivery in the home. It also highlights the key companies in this space as well as the major business models and future evolution trends. It covers the technologies of home automation, voice virtual assistants, artificial intelligence (AI), and analytics.
Companies like Google, Samsung, Philips, and Deutsch Telekom have unique capabilities and value propositions to serve the smart homes for healthcare delivery area, with their smart solutions, the report said.
There are further expansion opportunities in the healthcare segment:
• Providing an intelligent layer that will collect and analyze data to generate precise, customized insights for sharing with residents, caregivers, and clinical care teams;
• Developing solutions that enable further actions, such as hailing an ambulance or notifying the care team of a heart attack or a fall;
• Enhancing pre-defined architecture, protocols, and standards to enable easier integration of products into platforms; and
• Offering smart thermostats, virtual voice assistance devices, and smart security systems, in addition to ensuring tech development for residents, patients and caregivers
“Any solution that can monitor the health of various individuals in a single house, using cross-industry business models, while operating in a stringently regulated industry, will have to be highly dynamic, integrable, and interoperable,” noted Siddharth Shah Industry analyst Transformational Health.
“While the barriers to market entry seem high, there are substantial opportunities for automation and healthtech vendors that are keen to develop technologies, products, and models for this market.”