My father worked in construction so I grew up on building sites, finding creative uses for discarded materials. Back then, plans were on folded A1 sheets, goods were ordered in person at the builder’s yard and deliveries turned up with paper received notes (which got lost amongst the wood shavings and biscuit crumbs). As Kainos enters the construction sector and I talk to clients in the industry today, I’m struck by how little has changed in some ways. The anecdotal evidence is backed up by research that suggests there has only been a 1% rise in productivity in the last two decades. Given that construction represents 9% of UK GDP, it’s no wonder the government have also recognised this gap by establishing the Transforming Construction Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Two common challenges I hear are avoiding re-work and the logistics of ensuring that people, materials and equipment turn up together.
So it’s great to be working with some industry leaders who want to change the game and digtialise construction. While we have a lot to learn about the sector, I believe that the tested combination of skills Kainos have in user-centric design, data, cloud engineering, IOT, AI and agile can bring rapid benefits.
As part of Microsoft’s IOT Partner programme, I was speaking at IOT in Action this week, where the focus was construction and engineering. Whilst there is some maturity and great case studies from other Microsoft partners in intelligent buildings (optimising them once they are built), the challenge of digtialising construction remains. We saw some impressive demos of drone-based surveys combined with augmented reality to visualise the as-is and to-be of a construction site. These are great tools for engineers and architects; I also believe we will see opportunities for drone-based lidar, Bluetooth beacons and video analytics to cover a range of use cases from logistics and asset tracking to health and safety during the construction process.
I foresee two types of Kainos engagements: first, working with IOT innovators who understand the problem space and capabilities of sensor technology in construction but need a cloud engineering partner to deliver solutions that scale and meet data processing and insight needs. Second, our end-to-end digital transformation capability can combine siloed IOT and non-IOT datasets around construction projects to enable more accurate forecasting, improved productivity and fewer incidents. My dad would be amazed.