The Indian real estate industry is an appealing area for international players due to many reasons. The government allows 100% FDI in areas like infrastructure, SEZs, and industrial parks. In the last 20 or so years, over $17 billion has already been invested through these routes. This being said, global companies want to adopt a more structured and data-driven approach to working.
Internationally, new technology such as BIM enhances transparency, creates agility, and fosters innovation. Without these tools in place, international companies assume there may be a lack of predictability and order. Due to this sentiment, many of these companies would appreciate technology like BIM being used to create better plans, more visibility about the progress of projects, and optimize resource procurement and use. It could be said that a new era of structure and transparency is awaited in India’s construction sector.
It's already widely known that technology such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a powerful approach that offers many benefits to construction professionals. The adoption of BIM can address the needs of greater predictability, planning, and management. The BIM framework also allows for evaluation processes to occur smoothly as well and provides insights and connectivity for sites too. There is much scope for BIM in enhancing the design, construction, and facility management processes.
Despite this, the adoption of this technology in India is still low in the AEC industry. Why is this so? There are many preconceived notions and real-world realities that are causing this slow uptake.
Let’s discuss 5 such barriers being faced by mid-sized companies in implementing this technology.
Many contractors feel that the added cost of implementing new technology will be a burden on them. This is due to the idea that the cost of acquisition, deployment, and training will be high. To overcome this mindset, companies can learn how to leverage BIM technology to remove process inefficiencies, reduce costs over time, and increase profits. While the technology will demand some upfront investment, the savings that accrue will soon offset that.
It’s important to change mindsets by creating a feeling of optimism towards the long-term goal. Historically, software has been used to streamline work, manage projects, and predict potential issues way before they occur. All this helps to create a world-class construction in the least amount of time possible. Failing to adopt these technologies can make companies fall behind their competitors – which will prove disastrous in the long run.
Companies feel that there will be a lack in the ability for the systems to exchange and use information cohesively with the technology and systems they have at present. It’s clear that legacy processes will have to change to allow for faster operations, greater transparency, and seamless collaboration and communication. Change always brings concerns that must be allayed. It is also true that construction companies do struggle to attract and retain technology professionals in the face of competition from more glamorous sectors like IT. These issues can be tackled by partnering with specialists to create a carefully planned roll-out of the technology, clear training procedures, and expert advice on process improvements, accompanied by handholding and support.
Institutional attitudes towards adapting to new technology, especially in a traditional sector like construction, are always a barrier to development. This includes a bias against adopting new technologies due to prior negative experiences, conservatism, lack of understanding of the tool’s potential, and a lack of commitment to proper implementation training. Added to this is a reluctance for workers to “waste” their hours being trained and change their schedule leading to lower than optimal onsite adoption of BIM.
To overcome this, all stakeholders must understand how this technology offers the potential to drive improvements in their performance and the impact their teams can deliver. The best way forward is to specifically illustrate to the end-users themselves how this technology will make their workflow easier and more convenient and involve them as they see the change setting in. Clear communication is essential to answering all their doubts and proposing effective solutions to difficult areas.
Due to a lack of knowledge, there are concerns about the possible legal consequences of using new technology. The reality is that the Indian government is very supportive of adopting BIM. In 2019, studies have shown how this technology can optimise the cost of upcoming and ongoing housing projects in the country. This technology will also help with cutting down on the time escalation of these projects. Niti Aayog was also considering using technologies in multiple government construction projects such as national highway constructions, metro, and airport projects, revamping railways, and more. Iconic projects like the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation are turning to BIM for more efficiency and impact. It’s fair to assume that the technology is here to stay.
As with most software, there is always the risk of cybersecurity breaches. People worry about ransomware attacks and data breaches that include project designs, bid information, employee data, materials pricing, financial records, and more. Mitigate this by creating a plan which covers the security of project management software, online collaboration tools, mobile devices, financial apps, and more. Enhanced this by educating employees about cybersecurity measures they can implement to protect data.
Also, other strategies such as running contained pilots can help drive familiarity. Introducing BIM as a subject in the university curriculum will help overcome many of these barriers. This would help influence behaviour changes and create national-level guidelines. Creating an India-specific BIM product library is also a useful solution.
Studies suggest bringing together the Government, industry experts, and academic institutions to create ways to encourage companies to implement the technology. Academics can enhance awareness among students, who will then drive usage and innovation. Industry professionals can conduct training sessions. The Government can further encourage BIM in bids and reports. These steps will maximize the impact of this technology and help streamline many processes related to construction in India.