Rock to Road

Industry needs to seize benefits of new technologies

September 13, 2016  By CNW/KPMG International

September 13, 2016 – Despite substantial investments, the construction industry is struggling to gain the full benefits of technologies including advanced data and analytics, mobility, automation and robotics. That’s the key finding from Building a technology advantage – Global Construction Survey 2016, the annual state-of-the-industry report from KPMG International.

Of the 200-plus senior construction executives taking part in the survey, just 8% of their companies rank as “cutting edge technology visionaries,” while 64% of contractors and 73% of project owners rank as “industry followers” or “behind the curve” when it comes to technology.

“The survey responses reflect the industry’s innate conservatism towards technologies, with most firms content to follow rather than lead” says Geno Armstrong, international sector leader, engineering and construction, KPMG in the U.S. 

“Many lack a clear technology strategy, and either adopt it in a piecemeal fashion, or not at all,” he said.


Two-thirds of survey respondents believe project risks are increasing. According to Armstrong, this is an industry ripe for disruption, yet less than 20 per cent of respondents say they are aggressively disrupting their business models.

“Projects around the world are becoming bigger, bolder and more complex — and with complexity comes risk,” notes Armstrong. “Innovations like remote monitoring, automation and visualization have enormous potential to speed up project progress, improve accuracy and safety.”

Lagging use of data, mobility and integrated project management technologies
According to the survey, engineering and construction firms, and project owners, are not taking full advantage of the volumes of data at their fingertips – almost two-thirds of those surveyed don’t use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring. Moreover, only a quarter of respondents say they’re able to ‘push one button’ to get all their project information. And even fewer claim to have single, integrated project management information system (PMIS) across the enterprise.

“Integrated, real-time project reporting is still a myth, rather than a reality for most” according to KPMG’s Armstrong. “That’s largely because firms tend to use multiple software platforms that are manually monitored and disconnected, which severely compromises their effectiveness.”

Mobility is another technology with huge potential to analyze and track performance via hand-held devices t for large construction projects. A significant majority of respondents employ remote monitoring for projects sites, yet less than 30 per cent say they make use of mobile devices routinely on all their projects, while a similar proportion don’t use mobile platforms at all.

Similarly, only a third say they’re employing robotics and automation.

Project controls – room for improvement
The fact that more than two-thirds of the survey respondents believe their project controls are either “optimized” or “monitored” suggests processes are in place – but not necessarily delivering the required results. Only 27 per cent of respondents believe their controls are truly globally consistent.

The survey also finds less than a majority are realizing the full benefits of Earned Value Management (EVM) to measure cost and schedule performance – with over 40 per cent saying they do not use EVM at all.

Getting the most from technology
Harnessing the true potential of technology requires construction companies and project owners to get clearer about their technology vision and strategy.

In Armstrong’s view, “The rapidly evolving infrastructure challenges of the next decade demands both owners and engineering and construction firms embrace technology more strategically and at a far more rapid pace than in the past.”

About the paper
Building a technology advantage – Global Construction Survey 2016 highlights the views of over 200 senior executives from major project owners and engineering and construction companies. The report looks at how the industry is embracing a range of technologies including data and analytics, robotics, drones, remote monitoring and visualization. The survey, now in its 10th year, includes both private companies and government agencies, with project owners from many industries including energy and natural resources, technology and healthcare.

About KPMG’s Global Engineering and Construction Practice
KPMG’s team of seasoned industry professionals understand the key issues facing clients on a local, national, and global level. With more than 2000 professionals in over 40 countries worldwide, our multidisciplinary teams help clients identify and mitigate project risks throughout the project lifecycle.

About KPMG International
KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 155 countries and have 174,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

Source: KPMG International

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