Tackling infrastructure’s digital frontier

October 9, 2017 - Industry Insights

Once at the forefront of innovation, construction now lags behind in the adoption of new technologies. But the industry is at a tipping point. We spoke with executives from Atkins, Siemens, and RIB Software at GII 2017 about how they’re embracing the disruptive potential of digitization.

Interview transcript

Roland Busch, chief technology officer and managing board member: The construction market itself is the market with the lowest productivity over the years. When productivity for manufacturing was really increasing in adopting technologies, the construction market is basically running flat. And one reason is because they didn’t really adopt the new technologies.

Uwe Krueger, chief executive officer, Atkins: That has massively changed over the last three to five years. And I think it’s triggered by much more consciousness of senior leadership, not only with regard to the certainty of delivery, cost and time, but also in creating new business models.

Mukund Sridhar, partner, McKinsey: Productivity has a strong linkage to profits, so there is an economic incentive for all the actors in the system to play ball and really adopt these game changing technologies.

Roland Busch: You can build a digital twin of a city, of the tunnels, of the metro, and simulate the trains running there. Including simulating any interruptions, adapting time schedules. You can run that through your system and then execute it and drive productivity out of it.

Uwe Krueger: So thinking from the very beginning, from the planning phase, how can we optimize design in order to future proof it? How can we make sure that we think about the maintenance of the assets right from the beginning?

Thomas Wolf, chief executive officer, RIB Software: If you are using this data of multiple projects so that you’re not having to make the design for the next year, you can use so much design what you have done before, including all cost and time data, then it becomes a very cost efficient and productive way.

Roland Busch: You also have to tap on innovations coming from the outside world. We would call it an ecosystem if we would work in IT space. Ecosystem of external startups and ideas together with our research group. And, of course, our businesses.

Uwe Krueger: I really went out with my segmental CEOs and asked all of them to adopt and to engage with startup companies out there that we’ve invested in or that we’ve partnered with; and to kind of inhale the spirit of innovation. And really roll our sleeves up and dig deep into the technology itself; if necessary also understanding the software code or whatever it is. Really to embrace this technology wholeheartedly and then to be able to take the whole organization in this change management approach with us.

Mukund Sridhar: We’re also seeing the first real deployment of private capital. So venture capitalists and private equity players are excited about this and are thinking of this as an investment thesis going forward. The pace of innovation has to be matched by a pace and process, the pace and process of sophistication.

Uwe Krueger: In a way only the combination of IOT, of predictive analytics, of digital engineering, all together done in an intelligent way makes cognitive analytics such a pervasive kind of way of looking at engineering and construction in the future. And all of that momentum that I see building in the industry, gives me that confidence that finally we are getting it.

This article is originally from Global Infrastructure Initiative: 


About GII 

Since 2012, McKinsey & Company’s Global Infrastructure Initiative (GII) has convened many of the world’s most senior leaders in infrastructure and capital projects to identify ways to improve the delivery of new infrastructure and get more out of existing assets.

The fourth GII Summit took place in Singapore on May 24-26, 2017. The Summit’s theme, “New Solutions for Global Infrastructure,” encouraged participants to explore the latest data, global best practices, and innovative approaches to infrastructure in the 21st century. 


About RIB

RIB Software SE is an innovator in construction business. The company creates, develops and offers cutting-edge digital technologies for construction enterprises and projects across various industries worldwide. Its flagship product iTWO 4.0 is the world’s first 5D BIM enterprise cloud solution for construction companies, industrial companies, developers and project owners, etc. Since its inception in 1961, RIB Software SE has been the pioneer in construction innovation, exploring and bringing in new thinking, new working method and new technology to enhance construction productivity, and transforming the construction industry into the most advanced and digitalized industry in the 21st century. RIB is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, and listed in Prime Standard Frankfurt Stock Exchange since 2011. With more than 900 talents located in over 30 offices worldwide, RIB is serving 100,000 clients including construction contractors, sub-contractors, developers, owners, investors and governments, in the field of building construction, infrastructure, EPC sector and more.

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