Over two humid Melbourne days, 6 and 7 February 2019, I attended the Oracle Construction Technology Summit. The super smart Oracle people – with often very lengthy titles, shared their thoughts and predictions on the current state of play regarding the adoption of technology in construction across a number of presentations. I’ve shared my top takeaways in this blog post.
“Data Isn’t Just The New Oil, It’s More!”
Rob Philpot, Global Vice President of Product Strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering kicked off the official proceedings on Day 2 by reminding us of the humungous opportunity technology holds within the construction industry. By 2030 the global construction market is set to be worth $17.5 Trillion, up an estimated 85%. Within Australia, we seem to be in a pretty good position with $134 Billion in revenue which represents 8.1% of the GDP and reflects an industry that employs 8.9% of the workforce. Interestingly, Australia is punching above its weight by virtue of us being 19% more productive than its global competitors.
Data is not just the new oil, it’s more. That is in Rob’s opinion, by utilising the technology required to collect this data and applying a continuous improvement loop, technology will prove to be better than oil because as it’s used it continually improves. The theme of data collection and usage continued throughout the conference.
Integration Of Platforms Is Key
Interestingly, this is the same theme I took away from the last Construction Technology Summit I attended in 2017. Then supported by Aconex and the Victorian Government, I clearly recall the final key note expressing the importance of enabling the vast number back then of proptech solutions to integrate with each other effectively reflecting Rob’s point this year that there is strength in numbers.
The Biggest Risk To Business Is Doing Nothing At All.
Doug Zuzic, CIO of Adco raised the question: ‘Are organisations ready?’ Are they ready for the adoption of new technologies and the drivers that are key to supporting same?
Rather than directly answering the question, Doug provided some valuable commentary around the importance of understanding a company’s end vision when determining which technologies to adopt, such as:
- what are they trying to achieve?
- what is the driver?
- who does the technology impact?
This was comfort for me to listen to given, as part of our implementation process, we ask these questions as part of our change management support for our customers. Whilst most of these have been determined prior to engaging us it is vital we understand them and track progress against them as we move through the implementation process – and throughout the lifetime experience with our customers.
Doug reminded us that there are three distinct profiles of companies in this digital age:
- Fast Followers
It is clear in Doug’s opinion, that the Pioneers have very different operating models which create efficiencies and increases in profit margins. After all, we know that emails and attachments create delays, cloud environments are a better fit for the construction environment.
“It takes more than one organisation to build a construction project.”
– Doug Zucic, CIO of Adco
In closing Doug reminded us again of the importance of integration and collaboration. It takes many different organisations to build a construction project and the most successful projects are the ones where we have done an adequate amount of planning.
“We’ve Always Done It This Way …
Alec Jeffrey, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tridant reminded us that to say ‘we’ve always done it this way’ will leave your company behind. His powerful presentation expanded on Doug’s earlier point that people are vital to the success of digital adoption.
I found Alec’s point on utilising artificial intelligence for the forecasting of budgets intriguing. It’s so obvious once he said it, by utilising advanced analytics, ensuring the data is easy to use, easy to access and trustworthy, can save hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in the forecasting of budgets. It makes sense.
Alec’s top pointers when it came to using modern methods for the construction and engineering industry were:
- Data – let it lead the way;
- Technology – leverage front end and back end digital tools; and
- People – remember that culture is at the core to full value realisation.
Act, Plan, Try, Review
Morning tea preceded Kirsten Mann, Vice President Product Experience, Oracle Construction and Engineering, next presentation in the Main Plenary, so I missed the first component of her presentation. Kudos to the catering team, the food was extraordinary!
From what I did see of Kirsten’s presentation, my attention went to the mapping experiences of Oracle customers’ buying decisions. Such a vital track of information is key to the success of a company.
“Consider the needs of people when designing spaces.”
– Kirsten Mann, VP Product Experience, Oracle Construction & Engineering
This quote can certainly be applied to the design of technology. Kirsten’s explanation of the ‘Retro’s” undertaken by her team at the end of a software sprint continues to inspire me as a CEO to engage with our staff to continue to Act + Plan + Try + Review, a truly valuable collaboration exercise to ensure the continual improvement of our product.
You can listen to more of Kirsten’s ideas when it comes to designing for people via her podcast at Driven x Design.
Use Data To Transform Project Delivery
In Karthik Venkatasubramanian, Senior Director, Data Strategy and Operations, Oracle Construction and Engineering’s opinion now is the perfect storm where technology and construction can come together because:
- Data is being created like never before.
- Technology is getting faster and smaller.
- Costs of technology is falling.
Combining the above, the best way for companies to enable a point of difference is to use your data to be prescriptive and adaptive. Customers should be at the heart of the data strategy because, after all, without customers there would be no data.
Peter Iredale, Director Business Development, Allinno Pty Ltd (an Oracle Gold Partner) shared his tips for the successful tech adoption within organisations which included:
- Identify the benefits of the particular technology you are looking to adopt.
- Identify the risks associated with the above and talk them through.
- The management of expectations often requires tough love.
“Identify quick wins … people flock to success.”
– Peter Iredale, Allinno Pty Ltd
Innovation Is Hard!
Jasna Sims, Group Head of Innovation Culture, Lendlease made it clear that innovating is hard. As part of her role at Lendlease, Jasna outlined the importance of creating an environment where their team members can feel safe to innovate, effectively creating a purpose and objective to obsess over their customers, create partnerships and encourage diversity.
Jasna’s experience has proved that people need to become comfortable with ambiguity, they need to learn and adapt quickly.
“If you want to win projects, you need to show you’re serious about innovation.”
– Jasna Sims, Lendlease
After doing some digging on Jasna’s example used when Lendlease won the Google HQ project in London, this statement becomes clear when clients are quoted confirming: Joe Borrett, Google’s EMEA Director of Real Estate and Construction, said: “Lendlease emerged from a rigorous selection process as the best choice as our construction partner at King’s Cross because we felt it shared many of our own values – a desire to challenge industry norms, a focus on innovation, and a highly collaborative approach.”
Most importantly, when it comes to innovating, Jasna explains the importance of explaining the why and making it fun. We’re people after all, collaborating, integrating, learning … for the same end goal.
I got a clear sense from Mark Webster’s, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Construction & Engineering closing remarks, that Oracle Construction and Engineering will continue to be an innovator, integrator and connector within the construction industry. An industry impacting millions of people’s lives every day. Whilst this industry is one of the last to adopt technology, from what I’ve learnt across the last few days, it’s only a matter of time as long as we continue to be persistent and focussed on improving how property is delivered.
13 February 2019 · By Rachel Kidwell (TCPinpoint CEO )