Digitalisation calls for leadership!

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I could easily devote this column to the technical challenges of digitalisation. But I won't. This is because technology is not the delaying factor in digitalising the construction industry. The challenge lies elsewhere.

The situation we find ourselves in as a country and an industry is clearly emerging. Faced with the urgent need for more and faster housing, climate adaptation, sustainable energy and renovation of our infrastructure, we see that the traditional chain with planners, designers, contractors and builders is working less and less. This old machine leans on manpower, but due to the scarcity of personnel, it no longer gets up to speed. After all, doing more with fewer people is impossible. It is therefore time for a new machine.

Digitalisation plays a crucial role here: namely, the ability to connect, speed up and simplify processes. The rest of the world is already benefiting. Buying through at the same time as buying from Bol itself and another web shop, paying with your own bank, coordinating the delivery time with; it is just one example of the power of digitalisation.


And the construction sector? It is starting to wake up. Digitalisation is the key to connecting processes and players. Shortening the research phase, smarter and more sustainable designs, reduced failure costs in the construction phase and happy end users through much better stakeholder participation. And throughout this (and complex) process, the ability to rewind to make changes. The power of digitalisation in a nutshell.

So what determines the pace of digitalisation within the construction chain? The state of the art? The innovations available from the frontrunners? No, the key to acceleration is in the hands of the leaders! It is time for them to lead the entire platoon to take action. If the focus here is not on the IT task, but on the common benefits faster, better and cheaper construction, then success is assured.

By Otto Schepers, instigator community digitalisation NLingenieurs, member of Digiteam DigiGo and head of Digital Engineering Experiences at Witteveen+Bos.