The digital world is transforming the construction industry. But companies that do not put customers at the heart of their online strategies will fail, says our Digital Strategy Manager Inge Bommerez.
“A lot of people think that technology will fix everything, but that’s simply not the case,” she says.
“There are plenty of digital initiatives that never deliver what they should because the most important component has been forgotten — the customer.”
Construction needs to learn and adapt
Inge says technology alone does not create value. Technology simply provides customers with what they expect.
“As far as the customer is concerned technology is an enabler. Nothing more. Today we expect to get what we want at the swipe of a smartphone.”
Our industry has been slow to adapt to the digital world compared to sectors such as travel, retail or entertainment but the online giants of these worlds have a lot to teach construction.
For example, customers take it for granted that they can order online, track orders, control the data they need and get information on product availability and delivery.
However, such seamless and painless connections are not widely adapted by construction product manufacturers, says Inge.
More control for customers
“Another important factor is that customers enjoy being understood by their digital channels, they like being offered products that match their interests or needs based on previous preferences,” she says.
“We expect our technology to ‘know’ what we want and put us at the centre of their world when we use it. And if construction manufacturers don’t adopt the same dynamic they will become irrelevant.
“Customers have to be given more control, faster.”
So how can manufacturers of construction products navigate the digital landscape? Simple: start listening to customers and remove the key pain-points — usually the waiting for products. Do this by tracking customer experiences and integrating the different elements of the value chain.
“Of course this is easy to say and difficult to execute, but we all have to work towards a more seamless experience,” Inge says.
Revitalising digital experiences
At Knauf Insulation we are revitalising digital experiences for our customers.
Our new websites provide more interaction with better ways to find products and information such as Environmental Product Declarations, how our solutions contribute to credits in Green Building Rating Schemes and better filters for products which all contribute to a more customised experience.
Business-to-business platforms that provide track and trace for sales are being piloted. Partner programmes are being rolled out. Online training platforms are being established to back-up our physical training centres.
Seismic change is coming
Inge believes the next seismic digital change for the industry will come in the form of Building Information Modelling or BIM which is bringing all elements of the value chain together in one-stop accessible formats.
“BIM will be a critical enabler because it will cover every component of a building from the planning and sourcing of materials to the ordering, use-phase and ultimate disposal as well as involving everyone from the customer and specifier to contractors and product providers.
“It’s a very exciting future, but our industry must start adapting now to make the most of future opportunities.”