Why digital transformation is lagging in the built environment

Could cultural barriers be preventing property and construction firms enjoying the benefits of digital transformation? A new report calls for technology innovation leaders to step up to the plate

Cultural barriers are preventing a broader acceptance of technology innovations in the built environment sector and, as a result, digital transformation in real estate is lagging behind.

This is a key finding from a new report entitledDigital transformation: Survive and Thrive’, which spells out that digital transformation in the built environment sector requires a focus on cultural change – involving people and organisational dynamics – rather than just on digital technologies.

The report is co-authored by property and construction recruitment specialist Cherry Pick People with proptech procurement platform Unissu. It is based on a spring 2022 survey of 176 innovation leaders in 42 markets around the world, supplemented by a series of interviews. Respondents represented organisations right across the built environment life cycle including firms focused in areas such as asset management, property management, proptech and consultancy.

Five key recommendations emerged from the study. These include ensuring that innovation leader roles within companies have a full-time focus on innovation and occupy an overarching leadership position in an organisation, beyond digital transformation.

A full-time focus

The core argument of the report is that organisational culture will be the key to advancing innovation and unlocking digital transformation. It highlights that innovation leaders in property and construction tend not to concentrate on innovation work full-time as other roles and responsibilities take precedence. This was compounded by the survey results that found that innovation leaders spend, on average, only 53 per cent of their time on innovation activities.

The report argues that, in addition to a wider cultural shift, organisations need to prioritise innovation by providing innovation leaders with sufficient time and resources. Insufficient resources were ranked as the second most frustrating aspect of innovation leaders’ work (30 per cent of respondents). The most frustrating aspect was resistance to change (36 per cent of respondents)

On track to advance

The report concludes with the idea that tech innovation leaders will be core to their organisations and will be on track to advance to top management positions in the future. As the demand for innovation leaders grows, it will be paramount for organisations within the built environment sector to secure top talent, build their innovations teams and prioritise digital transformation in the new world of work.

Read the ‘Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive’ report here.

Matthew Myerson is Development Director of WORKTECH Academy
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