“We are on the eve of a digital revolution.” I have been hearing this for years. How long can we expect to be on the eve of this revolution? When will the dawn arrive so the revolution can begin in reality? Well, I am willing to sound the wakeup call: digitalisation is in full swing. How is your company taking up the gauntlet? Blog by Marc Kooij.

Big data, Internet of Things, robotisation, virtual, augmented and mixed reality, generative design, artificial intelligence – behind these abstract terms lies a true-to-life transformation within our sector. Companies that fail to participate in this transformation will have forfeited their right to existence in a number of years. Simply because they will have been surpassed left and right by parties that quickly respond to new customer needs and that have fully embedded these digital solutions into their earnings model and services.

Inspiring success factors

The recommendation to start working on digitalisation can at times appear deceptively simple and obvious. Actual practice is far more intractable. Many companies in the construction and installation sector consider digitalisation an additional task. Something added. Fortunately, I am also seeing enough inspiring examples of companies that are taking the initiative. While they show that there is more than one way in which digitalisation can be effectively accomplished, there are several frequently recurring success factors:

1. Show digital leadership
Digitalisation must become part of the DNA of your organisation. This requires digital leadership. Managers that are aware that digitalisation and engineering and technology are inextricably linked. Who give digitalisation a place in their vision and mission. Who specifically identify the implications in terms of the work and the services provided to customers.

2. Dare to start small
A small-scale digital innovation is an innovation just the same. Give these baby steps a chance as well. While it may not be all that exciting to enter the market with small-scale initiatives, it does make things more concrete. The average age of employees in our sector is approximately 48 years. You have to convince the older generations to participate as well. By making digitalisation practical and serving it up in manageable chunks, it is embraced more quickly than something large and threatening.

3. Reason on the basis of value for the customer
Data is the magical word. While collecting a great deal of data may be nice, it is not the final goal. The key is to process that data into useful information. In other words, added value. Anyone who masters this approach, who always reasons on the basis of ‘how will this benefit the customer’, has a headstart on the market. Incorporate the principle that customers are curious and like to be part of the development process and the success.

4. As much as possible work from a single platform
There are plenty of stand-alone solutions, apps and login screens. There is an overload of possibilities, but often there is little or no coherence. When this is the case, people simply won’t use it. This is why you should as much as possible provide solutions from a single platform. This requires a larger investment, but one that will yield double the payback over time.

5. Make room for young talent
Digitalisation is increasingly becoming a specialism. This is attractive to younger generations. It makes companies in the construction and installation sector more interesting as an employer for young people. A number of companies have established a separate department with specialists who analyse data and convert it into strategically interesting management information. Great and challenging work for young talent!

In short: the digital revolution in our sector is in full swing and offers a great many opportunities. But these opportunities are not without obligation. For many companies it is a question of do or die. You should therefore put digitalisation at the top of your agenda, continue to promote it, do not shoot in the dark and master these developments.

This blog is also published on the Duurzaam Gebouwd [Sustainably Built] platform.
Marc Kooij

The digital revolution in our sector is in full swing and offers a great many opportunities. Show digital leadership!

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