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9 February 2024

Infrastructure Client Group benchmarking report highlights a need for increased collaboration and investment in data and digital

The Infrastructure Client Group (ICG) Data and Digital Benchmarking Report shows an increasing awareness of the challenges and issues affecting the UK infrastructure industry. The progress required to achieve the industry’s data and digital ambitions is being hindered by a lack of investment, collaboration and integration.

The newly launched ICG Data and Digital Benchmarking Report on the infrastructure industry’s maturity, highlights that investment in data and digital remains low, despite overwhelming consensus on the benefits. Organisations reported difficulties articulating these data-related benefits in purely monetary terms and blamed ineffective governance for poor data quality.

Powered by Mott MacDonald’s Smart Infrastructure Index, the report uncovers insufficient levels of regular collaboration within and across businesses, largely down to inaccessible language and a lack of overarching direction, creating a need to share best practice more thoroughly. Just 24% of respondents agree that language used to communicate digital initiatives is understood, with only 6% feeling that lessons learnt are adequately shared. Data quality continues to be a blocker, with 9% of respondents trusting data to make decisions.

Positively, the report reveals that those developing digital technology are becoming increasingly aware of how people interact digitally and are making technology more accessible and user friendly. More so, technology is changing to empower people to create and develop digital solutions with little to no understanding of how-to code. These improvements are simultaneously driving data and digital tool utilisation in asset investment planning. Additionally, the value of data and digital is being bought into, despite organisational structures sometimes stalling the potential benefits being realised.

Security mindedness, once considered an IT issue, has finally reached all corners of infrastructure organisations. Data integration is now adopting a much-needed ‘systems’ approach, where there is a recognised need to analyse lifecycle asset data alongside both financial and programme functions.

Although the report found that data analytics is having limited effects on detailing and describing past events, it accepted that better use of predictive analytics will continue to transform how assets are monitored and maintained going forward.

While change and progress continue to exist in pockets, the report warns they are not happening at a rate or scale that will deliver the effective digital transformation the industry so desperately needs.

Melissa Zanocco, head of programmes at the ICG said: “The survey results demonstrate that digital transformation is a socio-technical issue with the need to concentrate on people, not just tech. We need collaboration between people as well as interoperability between systems, and we need business models that create the right environment for quality data to get to the right people so better decisions can be made. Cyber-physical infrastructure, like connected digital twins and AI, underpinned by data-sharing infrastructure, are going to be a key area of focus for 2024.”

Andy Moulds, Mott MacDonald’s head of strategic advisory, stated: “Our industry is not moving at the same rate as the technological changes and advances we are now trying to leverage. We have fantastic levels of knowledge and powerful technology at our disposal. The confluence of generative AI at scale, democratised data and information, and dedicated people can empower and support our industry in all areas that we have to address.”

Since 2018, Mott MacDonald has collaborated with the ICGs Digital Transformation Task Group (DTTG) to co-create a measure of data and digital maturity designed for and by major UK infrastructure organisations.

Andy continued, “We are delighted that by reflecting the experiences from a 1000+ participants in this report – a fifth of which are from the supplier ecosystem – we have the insights necessary to guide industry leaders and beginners in navigating digital transformation complexities, offering practical case studies and highlighting common challenges.”

Read the full report here: ICG Digital Benchmarking Report

Discover how you can accelerate your own transformation by taking the Smart Infrastructure Index here.

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