This year, we can expect to see infrastructure stakeholders leveraging digital to support decisions and solve challenges. We also expect to see more digital capabilities integrated across the wider value chain. Finding the accelerator is key.
Three emerging trends we see this year are outlined below.
1. From data driven decisions to automated problem solving
There is renewed focus on linking decisions to the data that supports them, resulting in understanding which data is used across multiple decisions, and treating data as an asset while also evaluating its true cost.
With improvements in data, digital platforms will be used to automate, streamline and search for challenges to be solved – leveraging OpenAI such as ChatGPT for example, to ingest and analyse different situations – this growth will accelerate but will also plateau.
Australian organisations should stay focused on business needs without getting distracted by technology in search of a problem. At the end of the day, digital technologies are only there to support solving business challenges.
2. Integrating data across the value chain
Infrastructure is made up of many stakeholders, agencies, regulators and maintainers. There has been a push to ‘get your own house in order’ before sharing with others, however, in many cases, sharing enables the improvements needed.
Asset owners need to consider the value of digitisation across the whole life of their assets, not just in design and build, or in operations and maintenance.
There are much larger benefits to be gained across the entire asset lifecycle, but business cases for digital transformation often struggle to understand and communicate benefits that may be realised further upstream and down the value chain.
Those responsible for driving long-term efficiency and performance from infrastructure assets want to implement AI to augment decision-making, IoT to enable predictive maintenance, and digital dashboards to drive monitoring and reporting. But that requires data to be flowing across the asset lifecycle, between operational siloes and through every node of the value chain.
In Australia, we’ve been assisting clients to leverage technology to join data and integrate systems across value chains. This may be as simple as laser scanning so that a digital twin of an existing asset can be captured quickly and cost effectively, providing valuable data to not only better manage ageing infrastructure, but to better plan its maintenance, decommissioning and eventual replacement.
3. Solidifying the benefits of infrastructure’s digital transformation
As soon as a physical infrastructure project, like a new bridge, has a positive cost benefit, securing investment is a turnkey exercise. Government departments and Treasury are versed in evaluating the economic and social returns and funding the build. However, when it comes to digital projects, historic failures have eroded trust and willingness to invest, or to fund the entire project.
Even when a business case considers the full benefits of digitising asset management across the full asset lifecycle, convincing budget holders to fund a digital transformation can still be difficult.
We’ve collaborated globally to develop Australian use case libraries with the indicative problem statements, users impacted, capabilities needed, benefits enabled and evidence of where it has been achieved before.
While examples are useful, to convince sceptics on the return on investment, a measured focus needs to be on the comparative maturity and level of uplift enabled by each use case with databases of benefits realised over time.
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