Tuesday October 27, 2020

Companies should include digital in every aspect of their operations

'With an uncertain year ahead it is critical for Government to maintain its spending on construction projects' says Conor Gunn, Associate Partner in the Government and Infrastructure unit in EY.

24th September, 2020

What's your name and what position do you hold?

Conor Gunn, Associate Partner in the Government and Infrastructure unit in EY.

What are your day to day responsibilities?

My day to day responsibilities are focused on leading EY teams servicing a range of Public and Private sector clients in the infrastructure, real estate and construction sectors.

Responsibilities include advising clients on procuring large capital assets or other construction related services, bidding for government contracts, providing policy advice, conducting project feasibility assessments and raising capital.

What is your professional background?

I’m a chartered accountant by profession, with over 15 years specialising in infrastructure and real estate advisory.

Prior to joining EY’s Government and Infrastructure team I worked in the NTMA’s infrastructure procurement unit where I managed the delivery of a €3bn portfolio of infrastructure projects across the housing, education, justice, health and arts, sports and tourism sectors.

Since joining EY I continue to support public and private clients across the above sectors together with clients in the transport and broadband infrastructure sectors.

How do you think the industry is coping with the Covid-19 crisis? What lasting impact do you see on the sector?

According to EY-DKM Economic Advisory Services, construction industry output fell by 45% in Q2 2020. In the face of this significant quarterly market contraction the industry has demonstrated its resilience by successfully and safely re-opening sites.

However, with an uncertain year ahead it is critical for Government to maintain its spending on construction projects and where possible accelerate projects that are ready to go to market.

Both the exchequer and the construction industry will benefit from increased State spending by supporting the industry and jobs – with a great opportunity for the State to purchase assets in a competitive market arising from a potential softening of private sector demand.

When planning for the post COVID world, the priority initiatives for construction firms include:

•Consider suitability of product portfolio – does it aligns with potential changes in long term consumer demand?

•Increase resilience of supply chain

•Establish more local production footprint

•Rethink administrative processes \ Address operational inefficiencies – in particular by leveraging digital

•Enhance business model flexibility in the face of medium-term market volatility and uncertainty, for example by exploring partnerships that could mitigate risk

•Consider M&A opportunities

How do you see tech innovation transforming this industry? What do you think will be the major breakthroughs over the next 5–10 years?

It is estimated that full-scale digitisation may generate an estimated 12- 20% in annual cost savings in the next decade.

The global construction industry is currently experiencing technological innovations throughout the project lifecycle, with internet of things (IoT) leading at the forefront globally. In 2019, the global IoT industry was estimated at approximately $270B and is expected to grow at a 26% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 2025.

Other technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are also expected to contribute to the construction industry’s digital transformation.

What will be the leading trends in the construction industry in coming years and how will businesses need to adapt?

The three core trends that the construction firms will need to embrace to remain competitive are

•Design oriented digital technologies

•Industrialised and componentised construction advances

•Construction automation — supporting work through digitization

The rapid evolution of construction and real estate technologies emphasises that those who act fast and decisively, embrace disruption, and focus on achieving long-term flexibility will emerge as the leading organisations in the future. Companies should include digital in every aspect of their operations in order to achieve maximum data-driven insights, identify new opportunities and improve efficiencies.

Conor will be speaking at the 2020 CIF Annual Conference on October 1st, Online.

For more information visit www.cifconference.ie

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