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The Pandemic Push Towards Digitalisation

I think it's fair to say that the Coronavirus pandemic has unfortunately gone on for far longer than we all thought. The impact on both lives, business, and economy has been pretty brutal. The strategy for most has been to tighten-up spending and control costs, avoid all wastage, trust our workforce, and embrace new and smarter ways of working.

For most survival instincts have kicked-in implementing strategies to minimise the impact. Everyone hoped that the measures would be ‘temporary’ however have become part of a more longer-term solution to ‘staying open’. It is great news that beating the virus is definitely getting closer as Covid-19 vaccine trials begin in the UK and is much needed with the rising infection levels globally.

Familiar words we have heard over and over to describe the stages of the pandemic are as follows: unprecedented times, Pre and Post Covid times, the new normal, the next normal…and so on…

However, what is increasingly becoming apparent is that the virus could well change how we do things forever, as we find ourselves continually changing, improvising and embracing new technologies, we could be actually moving faster towards automation and digitalisation than before. Also, the landscape is changing as businesses look to become more resilient and self-sufficient. Pandemic practices and protocols will even become part of business operations, so (heaven forbid) if it happens again, we will know what to do to hopefully lessen the catastrophic chaos.

Increasing the Speed of Digitalisation

It makes sense as digitalisation certainly lessens physical contact, reduces paperwork, streamlines processes and automates – it actually lends itself perfectly to a pandemic situation, making collaboration possible and seamless.

In the construction sector the pandemic is said to be increasing the speed of digitalisation and how the industry embraces process automation – see this interesting report by Flowforma – 2020 The Year Construction Embraces Process Automation.

An article by McKinsey describes how the construction industry can emerge stronger after the Coronavirus with a 5-point strategy based on: resolve; resilience; return; reimagination; reform, as well as 7 actions for success based on short and long-term trends, and embracing new ways of living and working – briefly summarised here:

Short term:

1. Increased digitalisation – more reliance upon Building Information Modelling (BIM) and use of 4D and 5D. Contractors making use of more online platforms to monitor things like: employee wellbeing, cashflow, materials ordering and managing resources.

2. Rebalancing supply chain toward resilience (vs efficiency) – contractors building their inventories by securing critical materials and long-lead items, as well as identifying alternative suppliers.

Long term:

1. Augmented consolidation to establish economies of scale in areas such as IT, talent, R&D and technology.

2. Vertical integration to increase efficiency and standardise the control of design and execution, may involve more reliance upon direct labour and integrating forward in the value chain to improve resilience.

3. Investments in technology or digitalisation and innovation of building systems, faced with possible shortage of skills labour due to continuation of physical-distancing, cross-border movement and BREXIT, research and development spending is likely to increase in order to develop new standardised building systems and automate elements of design and construction. Generalised move towards the automation of on-site and back-office processes.

4. Increase in off-site construction and building in controlled environments, to manage movement and interaction of workforces. This strengthens the case for off-site construction even more way beyond speed and quality. They expect contractors to encourage off-site fabrication and manufacturers to expand their range of prefab subassemblies.

5. Acceleration toward sustainability, including designs for healthier living. Retrofitting housing stock to improve energy-efficiency, shift towards more sustainable buildings and communities that promote healthier lifestyles (open spaces, air quality, recycled and sustainable materials). Source: McKinsey.

Some Final Thoughts

Perhaps whilst in thick of a pandemic situation, we should take time to consider how the market is changing? What changes may become permanent? What new ways of working will stick?

Great business and marketing strategy are knowing what is happening in the market, what is affecting our customers, how the need for our product and service is likely to change in the future; ensuring we innovate our products and stay in complete alignment with our customers' needs and wants.

  • How can we better serve our customers now and in the future?

  • How can we become easier to deal with?

  • Are we able to source materials and product more locally?

  • How can we become more self-sufficient?

  • How can we communicate better with our customers and stay on the pulse?

  • What changes should we make to our short, medium and long-term business strategy?

In times of great uncertainty and change, it is important that we support our customers as much as we can, whilst keeping abreast of our competitors and the changing industry landscape.

What the pandemic has taught us is that WE CAN do things differently - we can embrace change and try new technologies - we may even prefer the new way of working. There has never been a better time to evolve and develop, and avoid complacency at all costs. Read more: Here are some tips on recovery strategies for manufacturing businesses - getting back in the game.

We are Clear Goal Marketing, we are proud to serve the construction industry with on-team marketing support. If you feel your business is in need of firming up its marketing strategy, or if you need help with launching new product or to new markets, we would love to hear from you - contact us here.


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