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Digitization of construction sector worth $1.7 trillion

WEF Report shows construction needs new skills, tech and approaches to get benefit of digital tranformation

Digitization of construction sector worth $1.7 trillion
The construction sector could save $1.7 trillion per year from digital transformation.

Full-scale digitization of the construction industry, including 3D printing, AR and  autonomous construction, could save up to $1.7 trillion globally within ten years, a new World Economic Forum report shows.

The report highlights that new digital technologies, such as building information modelling (BIM), 3D printing, wireless sensors and autonomous equipment are disrupting a range of industries, including the Infrastructure and Urban Development (IU) industry, and that stakeholders can no longer afford to ignore these fundamental changes.

The report, Shaping the Future of Construction: Future Scenarios and Implications, was prepared by World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting Group with collaboration from a steering committee of over 30 leading companies in the engineering and construction industry.

The report includes three scenarios for the future of the UI sector, including a virtual-reality focused future where intelligent systems and robotics are dominant in construction; a corporate-driven, cost-efficient future utilising prefabrication and modularisation in construction, and a green-focused scenario where the construction sector focuses more on eco-friendly construction methods and sustainable materials.

The report stresses that the three scenarios are extremes, and the most likely future will see a combination of all elements.

Across the three scenarios, however, there are likely to be common requirements for the construction sector, including the need to attract new talent and new skills from outside of traditional areas; integration and collaboration across the value chain; and the adoption of advanced technologies at scale.

Companies also need to maximize the use of data and digital models throughout processes; review existing product portfolios and embrace new business opportunities; and enable change management and adaptiveness.

The Member of the Steering Committee for the Future of Construction Initiative, Consolidated Contractors Company Manager M.I.S. & Business Processes Re-engineering, Aref Boualwan, said that these digital technology megatrends were crucial for the industry to meet global needs in the future. "The three futuristic scenarios we identified in the report are extreme, but conceivable - they analyze how multiple current megatrends could establish different versions of a future world. The scenarios - ‘Building in a virtual world', ‘Factories run the world' and ‘A green reboot' are not designed to predict the future - but to help us prepare for emerging trends," Boualwan commented.

"Elements of this scenario are considered very likely - we predict new businesses will emerge, software players will gain more power and more residential, recreational and passenger mobility assets will be required," Boualwan stated.

"As a result - transformation imperatives are crucial for all parties in the construction industry, to help them adapt to new realities. We must capture new opportunities and adopt advanced technologies at scale - including initiatives like wireless equipment, cloud & real-time collaboration, 3D scanning/printing and augmented reality and visualization. We have seen digital technologies completely transform global industries in recent years - from social media to e-commerce and digital based mobility companies. But only very recently have digital technologies begun to emerge in the engineering and construction industry. This is the way of the future - and this report will help companies across the industry adequately prepare for it."

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