Digitisation in Construction – the value of construction content writers

by Colm Hebblethwaite

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If you work in the construction industry, you may have heard about digitisation. More importantly, you’ve probably begun to see the many ways it is beginning to change a sector that is, according to McKinsey, one of the least digitised. The way construction companies talk about themselves, their goals, challenges and successes are also changing quickly, making experienced and knowledgeable construction content writers a valuable asset. 

At its simplest, digitisation is the move from analogue systems to digital ones. For the construction industry, this primarily means moving data and processes that were traditionally paper-based into new digital solutions. Commercial information is now stored on the cloud instead of filing cabinets and information is transmitted via email or instant messaging. Time-consuming payroll processes can now be automated, and business meetings can be conducted over Skype from anywhere with an internet connection. Digitisation is increasing transparency, streamlining workflows, improving efficiency and facilitating collaboration. 

The digitisation of the business world is part of a much larger, seismic shift in the way we all live. In the space of two decades, the internet and digital technologies have changed the way people communicate, shop, learn about the world and act as consumers. And while the construction industry has lagged so far, there are signs that it could start catching up fast in the next few years. 
It is the responsibility of marketing and communications teams, and their construction content writers, to communicate these important changes. 

In need of an upgrade

The construction sector is sometimes accused of being slow to embrace new technology. There are a couple of deeply ingrained reasons for this. Construction projects are typically large in scale and involve multiple companies working together. It is hard enough rolling out digital strategies effectively across a single organisation, let alone a sprawling supply chain made up of multiple suppliers and subcontractors. Building digital capabilities is made even more difficult by the varying levels of sophistication of the smaller construction firms that are vital links in these supply chains.

But change is needed. With projects getting larger and more complex and growing demand for sustainability, it is clear traditional methods need an update. A lot of project planning is often still done on paper and uncoordinated between head offices and project sites. 

There can be clear benefits for construction companies that begin to embrace digitisation. A 2019 survey of 200 UK construction industry decision-makers found that 81% were looking to improve their digital strategies in the next 12 months. Even more encouraging, 43% of those that had reported increasing business win rates, 56% had reduced operating costs and 54% had seen improvements in productivity. 

The role of construction content writers

The main problem of digitisation is that it can cause disruption. Some industries are better suited to embracing new ways of doing things, while others can find it harder. Good communications help ensure everyone understands the broader strategic context these changes occur in. For the construction industry, the number of people involved in large projects makes effective and clear communication important. Letting stakeholders and customers know what’s happening and why, as well as the delivery timetable and projected benefits, can be crucial to the success of digital transformation projects. 

This means that the construction industry needs to get better at communicating long-term strategy and successes. One of the benefits that improved analytics and intelligent asset management can bring aside from aiding decision making, is the fact it provides lots of lovely metrics and examples to add authority to content. Safer working environments, more sustainable practices and faster project completions can all result from digitisation and can underpin powerful good news stories. 

Take the topic of sustainability as an example. Perhaps no issue has ignited the public consciousness as much in the last decade. Consumers, business leaders, regulators and governments are all now publicly committing to reducing their carbon emissions and environmentally damaging practices. What’s more, being seen to not be acting sustainability can lead to a lot of bad publicity and negative headlines. 

Digitisation is helping construction companies manage their supply chains more effectively, reducing waste and promoting a more efficient approach to procurement and material usage. Processes like Building Information Modelling (BIM) use intelligent 3D models to help architects, engineers and construction companies to work together to better plan, design, build and maintain buildings.

Construction content writers influence how these successes and innovations are communicated to industry peers and consumers alike. The way these stories are told is important and will have a big effect on how public and stakeholders view the construction industry in the coming years.

In times of great change, it is important to focus on opportunities. At Stratton Craig, we have been helping companies create communication strategies for the good times and the bad for decades. If you want to start talking yourself up a bit more, we have the experience, expertise and insight to help. 

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