Why Digitizing Construction Industry is the Next Big Thing?

Recent years have seen significant disruptions in Indian consumer market right from ride haling services to food delivery ones. However some old economy sectors of roadways, pipelines and construction are largely untouched by new-age entrepreneurs and disrupters.

Massive Untapped Opportunity Construction industry comprising of infrastructure like roadways, dams, canals and ports and real estate is USD 150+bn industry which employs nearly 50mn out of 450mn workforce in India.

In other words construction industry employs 11% of countries workforce — next only to agriculture! Imagine a disruption that would touch the lives of 1/10th of total Indian workforce!

A sector in need

Under-construction fly-overs or half build roadways are common sights in Indian cities. E.g. the “Iconic” Bandra-Worli Sea-link project in Mumbai took twice the budgeted time with cost shooting to 3 times the original plan. According to various studies, a typical construction project would take ~25% more time than budgeted to complete and incur 50% more expenditure than planned. This needs to be fixed!

Inadequate planning and risk mitigation contribute majorly to the delays. While managing the projects, there is lack of coordination between the Head Office and field. Project Planning is either not done or is merely on paper. Contractors /sub-contractors often have their own priorities different from that of the project.

Digitization can solve a good number of problems of this industry. At present construction remains least digitized in terms of use of ICT and spend. Globally 1 % of construction industries revenue gets spent on ICT — among the lowest! This number would be even lesser in Indian context.

Right time to disrupt is now. Presently availability of data connectivity at remotest of the location, availability of affordable mobility devices and low cost server infrastructure has made it possible for industry to adopt to digital and more efficient way of managing the construction projects. Digitization can solve the problems of coordination, accountability magnificently and help in aligning the priorities of entire team, constructors/ sub-contractors. This goes long way in cutting down delays and cost-over-runs. Use of 3-D imaging and Internet of Things (IoT) can enable monitoring and productivity management in unprecedented manner. There is ample scope of innovation and new-age thinking in this industry that has so far seen only incremental changes. Digital is certainly the way forward!