Industry must improve how data and insights reach decision-makers, says new ICG report

Snapshot of digital development shows more work is needed to unlock investment.

The infrastructure industry must make better use of its digital transformation to unlock investment, a new report has said.

The findings of the Infrastructure Client Group’s (ICG’s) latest annual Digital Benchmarking Report on the infrastructure industry’s digital maturity has shown increased recognition of the value of data. 

But with rapid technological advancements leading to an ever-increasing amount of data available and a real need for digital skills and capabilities to manage it, the report says organisations are struggling to keep up.

It added it was vital for high-quality data and actionable insights to reach key decision-makers with far greater speed, so they can make better decisions and deliver improved outcomes.

Produced by Mott MacDonald and powered by the Smart Infrastructure Index, the report provides a snapshot of digital maturity across members of the ICG’s Digital Transformation Task Group (DTTG).

This includes leading asset owner/operators from the transport, energy, environment and water sectors who collectively are responsible for more than £13bn per year of infrastructure investment. 

This year’s report identifies five common challenges and focus areas to help accelerate the industry’s journey towards digital maturity:

1. More data not yet translating to better decision-making: While data available to organisations has increased significantly, 86% think poorly organised information still inhibits full value realisation.

2. Focus on digital skills: A better understanding of the digital skills gap is required to ensure current and future capability needs are met to enable successful enterprise-wide implementation of strategies. Currently 54% of organisations simply don’t understand their skills gap.

3. Acknowledging the need for investment: This is now widely recognised with 87% of digital transformation strategies now sponsored by executives. Showcasing visible benefits is a key next step with 70% struggling to demonstrate the value required to unlock this investment.

4. Organisations becoming more resilient: Responses to internal and external hazards – a key priority for the DTTG for 2021 – has significantly improved, with 85% having evaluated the ability of critical assets to operate under adverse conditions and developed contingency plans.

5. Closer alignment to customer outcomes:  93% now state they have a clear line of sight between business objectives and customer outcomes in their strategy.

As the pandemic accelerated the industry’s digital transformation, the report says it also laid bare a real need for operating models to keep up with the pace of change, and the struggle to invest in people’s skills and capabilities to manage them effectively.

Whilst change is happening, it is not happening at a rate that will currently deliver the effective digital transformation the industry needs.

Melissa Zanocco, head of programmes at the ICG, said: “One of the areas that our members have greatest difficulty is in articulating and quantifying the benefits of digital transformation in order to unlock investment. The report provides dependable statistics that help add credibility to business cases. The results also hep to measure progress in our key focus areas such as resilience and stakeholder communication, and to confirm that we are focusing on the right things moving forward. 

“As many of our members move to the implementation stage of their enterprise digital transformation strategies, the emphasis is shifting to people, change management and information management. What is becoming clear is that changing people’s behaviours and culture, and having quality, interoperable data, is at the root of ensuring digital interventions are a success.”

Asset owners and operators that are responsible for nearly a quarter of the UK government’s National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline took part in this year’s survey. They are National Highways; UK Power Networks; Anglian Water; NDA; Sellafield; Tideway; TfL; Heathrow; Environment Agency; Network Rail; Openreach; East West Rail.

Click here to read the full ICG Digital Benchmarking report.

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