Dave Bennett: Five red flags that you’re not ready for a post-coronavirus future

Five key issues that could be holding businesses back from embracing the fourth industrial revolution and ensuring they’re fit for the future

Change; it can be incredibly daunting, but also incredibly rewarding. We’ve seen a lot of change in recent months as we all deal with a completely different world and way of life, but it’s forcing us to adapt and overcome challenges we never even dreamt could be possible.

Digital tools and innovations may be the saviour to help us accelerate recovery after the global health crisis, but we must be ready to embrace them. While there were many businesses leading the way adopting these technologies well before the pandemic, there are still many not spotting the signs that change must happen, and it must happen now if our industry is to thrive. To properly adopt this technology, we must have the right systems, processes and attitudes to reap the benefits. There are five key issues that could be holding businesses back from embracing the fourth industrial revolution and ensuring they’re fit for the future.

Working in silos

To truly see improved efficiencies, we must be communicating with all of the teams involved in a project at the same time, ensuring everyone is working from the same plans and to the same timelines. For some businesses, it might take time to break away from old silo structures, but technology can vastly improve the experience. Technologies exist that allow all stakeholders in a project, whether they’re surveyors, engineers, machine operators (and their machines), to be updated instantly and simultaneously when changes are made to plans. 

No CPD strategy

Investing in people is investing in the success of a business. Not only can we focus on driving the skills of our teams through planned and strategic skills development pathways, but they can start to educate us on outside investments – new software, new machinery and tools. Our people are quite literally our driving force, and we all know about the looming skills gap our industry faces, so it makes business sense to get our teams up to speed with the latest tools, technologies and practices to ensure we’re ahead of the game and ready for future challenges.

Lack of technology

Positioning and automation technologies are enabling better productivity, efficiency and safety through more streamlined workflows on projects large and small across the world. While it might be rare nowadays to find many businesses working with string and stakes in the ground, there are so many more efficiencies that technology can offer beyond just surveying. Look at project management tools like Topcon’s MAGNET Enterprise, able to keep field and office teams connected and updated. Technology exists to protect investments, with tracking and remote management capabilities to tackle instrument theft, and we’re seeing AR and VR on sites to help streamline processes and keep teams safe.

As the digitalisation of construction continues to gain momentum, perhaps in spite of the pandemic, those who do not adopt the technology that will keep them working faster, safer and more accurately, will simply not be able to compete.

An ‘us vs. them’ mentality

It’s easy to get stuck in a competitive mindset in our industry. We’re at risk of developing a mentality that keeps us closed to collaboration – something that can help us learn, experiment, develop and innovate by combining experience and knowledge.

Sharing your data doesn’t mean you’re losing some kind of competitive advantage, it allows more eyes spotting issues or areas of improvement, more teams evaluating whether we can do more or change processes to make us more efficient, and mostly, it helps us avoid costly mistakes. Embracing digitalisation means embracing collaboration.

Endlessly searching for ROI

Adopting technology costs money, yes. Our industry is stuck in a rut with constantly looking for a return on that investment. When it comes to technology that will help you avoid mistakes, work quicker, more accurately and safer, where is the return?

Simply, there’s no “return” because there’s nothing “given”. We don’t spend time on incorrect parts of the projects, because technology helps us to avoid mistakes. We don’t see timelines get extended because we don’t need more time as technology keeps us efficient. We don’t need a contingency budget because the final product will be spot-on. Instead of a return on investment, we’re gaining productivity through investment. We need to switch to this way of thinking to truly see the benefits of technology.

These are a handful of things that you should consider as red flags if you want your business to survive and thrive throughout the pandemic, and be ready for the future with the fourth industrial revolution in full swing.

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