How will you Compete in a Digital Future?


We have all witnessed dramatic “disruptions” of industries and markets. Online bookings has completely change the travel industry. Online purchase or sharing of music has completely changed the music industry, and similarly for the film, news, TV and media industry. Online purchase of goods has completely changed the retail industry. Etc

Ralph Montague, BArch MRIAI
Managing Partner, ArcDox

Is design & construction immune to this kind of change? Think again, and think carefully.

Change, is “evolutionary”, not “revolutionary” – it is happening all the time – every day. People are always looking for better ways of doing things. And if we go to the “father” of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, you will note he didn’t say “survival of the fittest” (strongest, most intelligent, richest), as is often mis-quoted, in fact he said almost the opposite, “… it is NOT the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to Change…”.

With this in mind, consider a company in China (Broad Group), who have recently constructed a 57-storey building on site in 19-days. (Stop! Read that again! Take some time to compute!). They were effectively building 3-storeys a day.
Here is a short video

How will your company compete with that?

OK, you’re thinking, they must have spent a lot of time beforehand, getting ready for this? Yes they probably did. This article suggest they spent 4-5 months assembling the 2,736 modules that make up the building, all constructed off-site, where it is safe, where quality can be controlled, and where they are protected from weather etc. 
But, that is still not a lot of “construction time” for the scale of the building. (there is no indication of the “planning time” associated). It doesn’t matter how many ways you try and dismiss it, it is an awesome achievement.

You may, or may not like what they are doing, but you have to ask, is this off-site approach a “game-changer” for the construction industry?

The point is, if you are in construction, and if you have bothered to view the links above, you must be thinking, or asking yourself, “are we the equivalent of the old-school travel agent, saying that this online booking thing will never catch on, or are we adapting/evolving with the way things are going?”.

I think a number of ideas, philosophies and practices are beginning to converge, all supported and assisted by digital technologies:
• BIM (Building Information Modelling)
• Modular Construction
• Off-Site Construction
• Lean Construction
• Green Construction
• Innovation in Construction

As an industry, we can’t be complacent (wait around for others to change). We have to passionately explore these areas of development and consistently try and improve the way we do things (to change, to evolve), or risk becoming “extinct” in the process. And if you think you’re too big, or too strong, to become extinct, then read the Darwin quote above again carefully – because many big/strong businesses in other sectors have become extinct through “disruption”, because they refused to change.

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