Digital foundation for the construction industry - Digital Forum of Industry 2020 (Part 4)

A look back at our Digital [IN] - Digital Forum of Industry 2020. The hour of the construction industry.

Four hours of concentrated knowledge with 17 speakers from three of the leading German industrial sectors - that was our Digital Forum of Industry 2020. Even in the last hour, the hour of the construction industry, there were still numerous spectators. Topics were procurement processes, BIM (Building Information Modeling) and cross-tool digital transformation in the construction industry. The hour was rounded off with an outlook into the digital future.

1. Digital purchasing strategies in trade and in the construction industry

Michél-Philipp Maruhn, CEO and founder of ROOBEO In his keynote "Digital purchasing strategies in the craft and construction industry" illustrated what will be important in the construction industry in the coming years. The young company has been in business for three years now ROOBEO focused on digital purchasing strategies in the construction industry and has already built up a considerable network. Michél-Philipp Maruhn, guided by the question of how the market works, has developed a digital tool for data exchange with his team. In his presentation, he explained why a central interface for the exchange of data is so important in this industry.

Approach digital transformation with the help of a central data interface

In the construction industry there are numerous interfaces that have to run together and function in order to build efficiently and sustainably. On the one hand there are manufacturers of building materials, factories, dealers and online shops. On the other hand, the large and small craft businesses. Product master data is becoming more and more important for the smooth running of construction projects. This is shown, for example, by the growing demand for BIM systems. However, numerous companies in the construction industry are not yet really digitized. For many, the urgency has not yet arrived and the reluctance to collect data is still great. The construction industry is lagging behind some industries when it comes to digitization. What has to be done in order to digitize sustainably?

The customer expects a "do-it-yourself service"

One thing is clear: digital purchasing strategies and thus also the digital transformation do not work without master data. And this master data must first be submitted by retailers and manufacturers. Let's imagine that the master data is available from both sides and that they communicate with each other via interfaces ... then it would be possible to have all this data converge at a central interface so that only one product can be seen on the surface. The result: much more efficient and simpler processes that are less prone to errors. In general, it can be said that digital interfaces simplify processes. But anyone who comes from the construction industry knows only too well that we are still a long way from this one interface. But the changes in shopping behavior are already strongly suggesting that more and more companies will digitize in the next few years. Today, small craft businesses prefer to buy digitally. The end customer plays an increasingly important role in the design of digital purchasing strategies in B2B. Today more than ever, the customer is the one who sets the tone. He expects a “do-it-yourself service”, as Michél-Philipp Maruhn calls it.

ROOBEO as an innovation driver in digitization in the construction industry

ROOBEO has set itself the task of digitizing the B2B world in the construction industry. The company focuses on four main areas: partner search, master data, customer data and logistics. The information from these areas could be accessible via a central interface in order to make faster progress in the B2B world. The company strives to create this interface and thus create a digital network between craft businesses, manufacturers and suppliers. This has numerous advantages. A key advantage is the ability to make data-driven decisions that have been proven to be more efficient than emotional decisions in a B2B context. In addition, everyone involved saves an enormous amount of time when placing and accepting orders. Shopping should be more fun again. And that can be offered if at the end a product appears on the surface that automatically combines all important components. It may be a long way to digital transformation, but it brings with it what the customer wants: simple, individual and sustainable shopping opportunities.

2. Cost explosion due to incorrect project planning? Approach digital transformation right now and secure a competitive advantage

Most agree that digitization, and more broadly digital transformation, simplifies business processes. But what is the status quo in the construction industry? What about digitization in the construction industry was then discussed in the panel discussion with Martin Urbanek from openHandwerk, Benedikt Fischer from Querfeld.Design, David Bachmaier fromTriflex and Frank Stampa from FoxBase discussed. The title: “Cost explosion due to incorrect project planning? Approach digital transformation right now and secure a competitive advantage. ”A colorful mix of speakers brought a wide variety of digitization approaches into the discussion, but in the end they all agreed: No artificial intelligence can completely replace the personal and individual of a planner, builder or salesperson.

Which digitization approaches companies in the construction industry are pursuing

But let's start with the first question from the panel discussion: "What kind of digitization approaches is your company pursuing?" Asks Martin Urbanek. Not a simple question, as the previous discussions at the Industry Digital Forum have shown. But one that was asked again and again from the very beginning. For David Bachmaier, digitization begins with the internal value chain and extends from there towards the market. By this he means customer interfaces are gradually being digitized, from market development to digital products to service. It is difficult to define when which digital tool makes sense. But it is certainly a good way to start with the internal processes before the interfaces to the customer are digitized. In construction planning, digitization takes place primarily in the form of software tools to simplify planning processes. But communication also plays an important role here, which has become faster and easier thanks to digital software.

Challenges in digitization

In the panel discussion, one question in particular emerges: How receptive is the construction industry to digitization at all? After all, this is an industry in which there are a number of challenges to be mastered. Starting with communication, because numerous companies are involved in a project that have to exchange data with one another. Without a common interface, this can often lead to errors. However, introducing digital tools often fails due to the individual characteristics and compatibilities of those involved. For many in the construction world, digitization is still a book with seven seals. Another problem is cost. Digitization often pays off very late and takes time, which means that someone always has to make advance payments. Most builders are not ready for this. Other reasons for reluctance are also mentioned, the fear is too great that the individual will fall by the wayside. The question of legal certainty is too big. And competition and communication between those involved are not transparent enough.

Reluctance despite the visible opportunities of digital transformation

However, the advantages of digitization cannot be dismissed out of hand. Fast communication and easy access to all relevant information make work much easier and prevent errors in the procurement of building materials and planning. But in the end, digitization has to be driven by added value, they say. Too few see the added value. Currently, effort and benefit are not yet balanced and the know-how and the infrastructure are still too often missing. The players in the construction industry are aware of the relevance of digitization, but prefer to wait for the next generation of decision-makers who grew up in the digital world. At least this panel discussion gives the impression of that. Why so hesitantly, asks Frank Stampa, when everyone agrees that digital systems like BIM will prevail? Nobody can really answer this question. It is assumed that the next generation will fix that, that is, with the digital transformation.

Digitization will be a PRIO-1 topic in the construction industry in the next few years

You don't have to digitize everything that can be digitized. Personal conversations with customers are important and will remain so. Software solutions such as FoxBase's Digital Product Selector create time that sales can invest in customers. Product advice without sales is possible, but not a must! Digital tools are primarily data-driven support. In order to approach the digital transformation, it is important to look for solutions together in order to clarify the many interfaces and to avoid a lack of cost planning at an early stage. And it is important that digital tools pick up the customer. In the end it remains a process story. The price is secondary, the added value comes from the process. Digital customer interfaces will grow, but the personal will continue to have a high priority, so the view into the future. Artificial intelligence will turn the construction industry upside down a lot, but a certain soul and emotion that people bring to the projects will remain.

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