ASEAN’s construction industry should digitalize to maximize growth

The construction industry can stand to optimize operations with future tech (Photo by ROMEO GACAD / AFP)

The construction industry, despite being one of the world’s largest, has been notoriously behind on technological advancement.

In a 2016 report by KPMG, it was found that the biggest contributor to this sluggishness was that industry practitioners were reluctant to take the first step to adopt technologies, preferring to wait for competitors to do so. 

Nevertheless, the industry is actually ripe for disruption in these times, in part due to how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the way operations are carried out.

Singapore’s cautious, but promising progress

In 2019, Singapore took a huge step towards digitization, with both public and private sectors collaborating.

This was in line with the government’s plans to transform the construction industry. This transformative plan spurred further progress in Singapore.

The same year, the government’s housing development board (HDB) sought to use artificial intelligence (AI) and drones to make sites safer for workers

In 2020, the private sector worked together to adopt AI, virtual reality (VR), 3D technology, and digital platforms to streamline operations and improve safety. 

Southeast Asia a high-growth market

Recently, NYSE-listed Procore, a leading construction management software, announced plans to expand into Southeast Asia (also known as the ten countries that comprise the ASEAN region)

This move comes on the back of their rapid growth across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) over the past four years.

“ASEAN is a high-growth market, and we are looking forward to partnering with the industry to uplift its digital capability and provide value to all stakeholders in construction. We already have talented people based in Singapore and are accelerating hiring in the region to better serve the industry.”, shared Tom Karemacher, the APAC VP of Procore.

Procore has a growing customer and partner base across ASEAN, with regional customers such as Obayashi Corporation, Sime Darby Property, and Precise Development.

Digitalization is still the future

According to Deloitte, the engineering & construction (E&C) industry is expected to grow three percent annually through 2021, although profitability and margins remain persistently slim. 

Digital technologies hold untapped promise to address this challenge, especially the use of IoT to enhance connectivity. 

One particular strategy that has been fundamental in the transformation process is the integration of all construction processes using multiple technology solutions – more commonly known as the Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD).

IDD typically promotes the use of smart solutions, advanced information communication systems, and Building Information Modelling (BIM) — a three-dimensional (3D) technology.

Eventually, digital construction will transform the E&C industry, and it is imperative that the greater ASEAN private construction sector collaborates with their respective public sectors to drive growth as a whole.