UK construction industry to face huge change, finds Microsoft research

UK construction industry to face huge change, finds Microsoft research
Technologies such as 3D modelling, virtual reality and the cloud are transforming the sector 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

According to a recent study by Microsoft and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the UK construction sector will face major disruption from technology over the next two years as companies begin to embrace digital ways of working.

According to the report, 85% of workers in the construction industry believe the sector will be disrupted by digital technology over the next two years.

The report titled ‘Digital Transformation in Architecture’ surveyed workers in the industry and found that, even though technology is increasing productivity and helping firms create buildings, some companies are resisting the need to change.

The construction sector has traditionally relied on blueprints and 2D models, but the availability of 3D models at the design stage and mixed reality devices such as Microsoft HoloLens is changing the process.

The survey revealed that 37% of respondents said that they have been on a digital transformation journey for some time and 39% said they were in the early stages. The results also indicated that 10% had not yet started this journey. These results highlight the importance construction firms are placing on using technology to improve how they work.

RIBA has previously revealed that Microsoft’s HoloLens is helping architects construct better buildings. The survey of 300 professionals working in the industry revealed that 35% of architects are using at least one form of mixed, augmented or virtual reality, with plans to expand their use of immersive technology in the future.

These innovations will increasingly be supported by cloud computing services such as Microsoft Azure which is currently being used by almost 60% of those surveyed.

Digital technologies are helping 63% of practices to collaborate internally and 66% of architects have changed how they present designs to clients.

“The UK has led the way when it comes to digitising the design process, and technologies such as building information modelling and mixed reality are already helping practices across the country reimagine the way they design, create, present and collaborate,” said Ben Highfield, surface product manager, Microsoft UK. “However, the digital transformation of the UK architecture sector still has a long way to go. To thrive in a digital future, architectural practices must continue to prepare employees with the direction and digital skills they need for success. In fact, getting this culture of digital transformation right will help architectural practices to thrive – using new innovations to create buildings that will have a positive impact on communities.”

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