Digital Transformation is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society. The transformation stage means that digital usages inherently enable new types of innovation and creativity in a particular domain, rather than simply enhance and support traditional methods.
According to the Mckinsey report Navigating the digital future: Productivity in the construction sector has stagnated for decades, with the average capital project reaching completion 20 months behind schedule and 80 percent over budget. Some overruns result from increased project complexity and scale, but another factor also looms large: all stakeholders in the capital-projects ecosystem—have resisted adopting digital tools and platforms. Meanwhile, companies in other industries have significantly reduced costs and schedules by aggressively pursuing digital solutions
In many cases when the debate around economic transformation in the South African Construction industry surfaces the focus seems to be mainly around emerging black owned company’s vs incumbents i.e. large well-established companies who are mainly majority white owned businesses. The debate usually centres around whether or not big companies are doing enough to share the pie with emerging companies. In other words, emerging companies aspire to be like their big counterparts.
I think emerging companies should be having a different conversation they should not be aspiring to be like their well-established counterparts instead they should be asking themselves how could they use digital technology to disrupt the incumbents.
Sipho Maseko the CEO of Telkom said at the recent #BCXDisrupt Summit “Africa’s history is marred by extreme inequality – where there is tremendous wealth for some, and abject poverty for many but It is not a sustainable evolution of society to have some moving forward and some left behind, digital technology gives us the capability to move everyone forward”. In other words digital technology not only gives us the opportunity to level the playing fields, but it is also give us the opportunity to move everyone forward to me this is a perfect definition of radical economic transformation.
Digital Transformation is not a fad it is here to stay, and we have already seen how it has disrupted other industries i.e. Uber with taxis and AirBnB in the hospitality industry. The Mckinsey report tells us that globally the incumbents in the construction industry are resisting adopting to digital’ this should be music to the ears for the emerging companies in the construction industry.
Why compete with incumbents when you can use digital technology to disrupt them? There are a lot of technology companies who are already seeing the Construction industry as an industry ripe for disruption. So, disruption in the construction industry will happen one way or the other. I think Emerging Construction companies should rather be seeking opportunities to partner with these technology companies and take advantage of the digital technology thus creating new opportunities instead of trying to compete directly with the incumbents.