UK construction based businesses growth may stall due to poor integration of digital technology

06 Apr 2017

Looking to widen its investment and property portfolio around the world and seeing the UK as a significant market - even with Article 50 now having been invoked - a global client recently contacted The Builders’ Conference trade association asking if it could compile and supply data for them on construction companies over the past 12 months that have started or completed private housing projects up to £25 million in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

The subsequent report was received with gratitude, and led to a conversation between the President of the global investment business and the CEO of The Builders’ Conference, Neil Edwards.

“I explained how The Builders’ Conference had been successfully collecting data within the construction sector since 1935 and how challenging this process remained even in the digital age,” Edwards says.

The President of the business responded with dismay:   “So I can employ an army of people to travel around major conurbations where our business wants to invest, take photos of similar construction projects, note down from signboards who the contractors and client teams are on the schemes or just ask a few operatives as they enter or exit the site then this is not an issue?  

But if you, as an independent trade organisation ask those questions directly to a construction sector business, you may be faced with the answer ‘I am unable to tell you’.   That is ridiculous.”

He went on to point out the absurdity of this approach, the waste of money, the environmental impact of a team of mobile researchers.

Neil Edwards did his level best to point out that the UK’s construction sector was evolving technologically on a daily basis, and that he hoped to be able to supply this information via an online portal.

The President laughed.   “How quaint.”

In a post-Brexit world in which the UK needs to compete even more keenly on the global stage, such a comment is a truly damning indictment.