New report highlights willingness of infrastructure industry to digitally transform

The findings of the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG) Digital Benchmarking Report 2020, which provides a snapshot of digital maturity from members of the ICG’s Digital Transformation Task Group (DTTG), show that digital maturity increased by around 20% relative to last year driven particularly by improvements in digital transformation and asset management.

The report, produced by Mott MacDonald for the ICG surveyed leading asset owners and operators from the transport, energy, defence and water sectors representing more than 40% of the national infrastructure and construction pipeline. It showed that those with a clear digital strategy that had already embraced the need for transformation were much better positioned to ride out the storm and capitalise on the new digital-first normal.

Benefiting from over 450 respondents, three times as many as last year and involvement from the new Buildings Client Group, the report represents the most comprehensive benchmark yet of digital maturity across UK infrastructure and the built environment.

It is the first time none of those taking part in the report are classified traditionalists, and still at a relatively early stage of their journey, demonstrating how all are evolving their cultures to embrace new ways of working as their digital transformations take place.

The report found that:

  • There was a +10pts improvement in digital strategy and plans.
  • Twice as many organisations had an empowered network of digital change agents.
  • There was a +17pts increase in standardisation and automation.
  • Only 36% were confident most decisions were informed by evidence, not instinct.
  • 77% say poorly organised information prevents them from realising its full value.

There have been dramatic improvements in some of the areas tested hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic: resilience, how well managed risks to service were handled, and security – as organisations were forced rapidly to adopt remote and online working. The members shared how this has strengthened the business imperative for digital transformation, with initiatives that previously might have waited months for approval being rolled out almost overnight. In this way COVID-19 has served as a digital accelerator, forcing to the front what many held as a long-term priority.

However, action is still urgently required to address fundamental issues highlighted by the report including a lack of confidence in decisions not informed by evidence and a high percentage stating that disorganised data can be a blocker to realising its full value. Only tackling these issues head on will accelerate the opportunities provided by digital technology as the report makes clear.

Nirmal Kotecha, director of capital programmes and procurement at UK Power Networks, and chair of the ICG Management Board said: “This is a hugely impressive piece of work and one that will be of real use to the ICG Members and the wider industry. With the notable growth in participation, we are starting to see the real benefits and this is reflected in the report.”

Mark Enzer, chief technical officer, Mott MacDonald and chair of the ICG Digital Transformation Task Group said: “2020 was an unprecedented year in many ways, with business and society subjected to disruptive change and intense pressure not seen in a generation. We learn most about ourselves in times of crisis and the Infrastructure Client Group members have shown remarkable resilience. The insights from this exercise will help shape the actions they take, both collectively and individually to forge a digital recovery in 2021.”

Discover more about the report and its findings related to its six cross-cutting themes: organisational alignment; adopting effective operating models; unlocking investments; the human challenge; digital twins; and short-term pressure: the impact of COVID-19 on digital transformation, in a series of forthcoming thought leadership papers, authored by Mott MacDonald at https://www.mottmac.com/.

Read the report in full or the highlights in five minutes at Smart Infrastructure Index Report (project13.azurewebsites.net)

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