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How We Can Bridge the Gap from Digital Ambition to Digital Impact

Published: 07. July 2023
By Evan Barnes
Head of Strategy & M&A
Having digital ambition is one thing. Driving that towards real, business impact in an industry as complex as the off-highway sector is another. That’s where the data-led insights of AI-powered platforms can become a critical catalyst for the transition.

We used to talk about a tipping point in construction, that point in time when the industry widely recognizes the potential of connected assets and goes “all-in” on digital products and services. The reality for many is we are already there and fully underway.

But even with a bold digital ambition in the construction industry, turning it into digital impact has proven elusive for many. While eminently desirable, it is extremely difficult to pull off. In fact, it is incredibly difficult to even get started.

That hasn’t stopped the industry from trying. But broader business is littered with cases where huge investments in digitalization are made only to fail for a variety of reasons. A 2020 study by Boston Consulting Group concluded 70% of digital transformations do not succeed.

Why do they try then? That same study shows why. Those who successfully transform “created on average, 66% more value, improved corporate capabilities by 82% and met 120% more of their targets on time”. Another study by IDC shows investment in digital transformation grew by 10.4% in 2020 to reach USD 1.3 trillion.

So the ambition is undoubted. And so are the rewards. But is there a way to give business the best opportunity to realize the benefits? And is there any reason why the off-highway sector shouldn’t have the same opportunity to achieve that real business impact?

As it’s the off-highway sector that concerns us, let’s deal with that now.

Extreme complexity

There’s no way of getting round this. Construction is characterized by extreme complexity, and in many ways, that complexity is at its peak in the off-highway sector. While there is a drive for connectivity, that process is hampered by numerous obstacles, all of which contribute to the downtime that has become the industry’s biggest block to unleashing its full potential.

The problem is no longer the availability of data. It’s about moving beyond basic connectivity and how that data is consolidated, harmonized and turned into insights that drive action and change to create value. The industry has a wealth of data available for study, but the resources and expertise required to make it business-impactful is daunting and, because of the complexities, immediately puts any serious attempt at a successful digital transformation strategy at risk.

It’s a tough one for business owners. It represents a fundamental shift from what they have done in the past to, almost certainly, a new way of working. Never has the statement, “what got you here, may not get you there,” ever rung so true. In effect, it’s asking a company that may have had a traditional business approach to become a software company, attracting the right kind of talent, or to at least adopt a software mindset, as our CEO Soeren Brogaard has previously pointed out.

“Construction is characterized by extreme complexity, and in many ways, that complexity is at its peak in the off-highway sector.”

Technology research experts Gartner define the transition thus in an AI report from 2022: “As decisions become more connected, contextual and continuous, it’s increasingly important to reengineer decision making… ”

And that is exactly the kind of transition that high-end IoT platforms are in a position to help businesses solve. Via partners, the industry now has access to a newfound level of data-driven insights combined with the expertise in driving impact that comes from years and years of being immersed in the underlying data complexity. But the challenge to unlocking full potential extends beyond just data access. It requires a fundamental shift in how business decisions are made – ensuring the right person has the right insight at the right time.

‘In the dirt’ expertise

Tapping into holistic frameworks and digital transformation roadmaps provide a significant step in the right direction, but within construction and the off-highway space, it requires that critical last 20% of clarity to accelerate the return on digital investment. That is exactly what the very best data-led IoT partner services can assist with and something we have been doing with our Predict Consulting. At this level of machine insights and core knowledge, it’s a different game that requires “in the dirt” expertise to capture the full potential.

Forward-leaning players embrace data-based decision making

To unlock that potential, it requires a different type of partner collaboration working “shoulder-to-shoulder” to best identify the critical data-driven insights to bridge the gap between ambition and impact. By first creating line of sight between partner-enabled insights and core KPIs that drive business impact, we can establish the means to build, track, and optimize continued investment in connected capabilities to maximize financial return.

“The industry ambition is there, but it requires an individually tailored and data-led consultative approach to unlock the value.”

It is ultimately how a business leverages the capabilities and expertise of their technology partner that will accelerate their revenue performance, lower their cost position, and improve profitability. And as for core technology partners, they must continue to alleviate growing data complexity, provide the necessary clarity, and leverage their digital expertise to help the industry drive impact. The industry ambition is there, but it requires an individually tailored and data-led consultative approach to unlock the value.

Partnering for impact

The role of partnerships can not be underestimated and we see it happening in the industry already. There are plenty of entry-level use cases where fleet managers are leveraging partner-enabled machine insights to drive decisions that quickly make an impact on their business. But as the digital ambition and understanding of the full scope of opportunity grows and matures, so does the complexity from poor standardization and the tools and expertize required to translate it into tangible impact.

While construction suffers from poor data standardization in many areas, the more sophisticated IoT platform partners provide their ecosystem with clean, readily available insights to drive impact. These insights shed light on areas that are not (yet) fully regulated like emissions reporting and safety on mobile elevated working platforms. This matters because the regulatory curve is only going one way and there is an opportunity for forward-leaning players to be proactive in driving differentiation vice reactive to inevitable change.

“As the digital ambition and understanding of the full scope of opportunity grows and matures, so does the complexity from poor standardization and the tools and expertise required to translate it into tangible impact.”

But if you’re willing to lean forward and properly equipped with the systems and expertise to utilize the data, then you’re already positioning your fleet in a way to accelerate business impact. Whether robust emissions reporting or step-change improvements in operator health and safety, these are just some examples where there is immediate benefit to be had through rigorous, systematic application of insights through your business.

The case is compelling and the opportunity space is vast. That’s why IoT platforms are there. But delivering on a bold ambition is hard. In the end, partnering with a helping hand can unlock the last pieces of clarity needed to ensure we see impact and not only aspiration.

About Predict Consulting

Predict Consulting is a team of experienced construction technology consultants within Trackunit. Predict Consulting specializes in design thinking, data analytics, and co-developing solutions with customers that tie digital insights to key business levers. Tailored specifically for the construction industry with a deep understanding of the unique challenges and requirements, Predict Consulting supports customers in their effort to harness and maximize the power of data to create clarity on a strategy to driving business impact.

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