News & Press

Full-Scale Digitization, Global Megatrends Portend Changes to E&C Industry

Global megatrends such as rapid urbanization and climate change combined with advancing digitization through technologies including BIM, prefabrication, robotic equipment, 3D printing and others create a powerful scenario for change in the engineering and construction industry. That is according to a new report from the World Economic Forum and The Boston Consulting Group entitled “Shaping the Future of Construction: Future Scenarios and Implications.”

The report, published in early June, outlines various scenarios for future change and offers strategies to enable engineering and construction firms to prepare for and avoid business disruption that could result. It details the results and findings of various workshops the report authors held with 30 leading international companies and other stakeholders from the E&C industry. Three primary potential scenarios for the industry on a global scale are presented in the report, including a “building in a virtual world” scenario in which design and engineering software systems are powered by artificial intelligence and autonomous construction equipment replaces most manual work throughout the E&C value chain.

Michael Burke, chairman and CEO at AECOM and cochair of the World Economic Forum Future of Construction Initiative, commented: “Current business models, strategies, and capabilities will not be sufficient in any of these future worlds. This underscore that players along the construction value chain need to prepare strategically to thrive in the face of anticipated disruption.”

The report recommends specific actions to take in response to each scenario to encourage E&C companies to change industry practices and processes and embrace technology in order to keep up with the changing future marketplace.

E&C company CEOs who attended the most recent annual meeting of the World Economic Forum reported that the top challenge most impacting their businesses was the ability to attract new talent and improve skills in the existing workforce. The challenge was cited by 74 percent of participants as the most urgent action item to keep pace with upcoming disruptions. Two other priorities were improving integration and collaboration along the value chain (cited by 65 percent) and adopting advanced technologies at scale (61 percent cited this).

Read the full report here.