e-Business Adoption

An industry-wide survey conducted in late 2001/early 2002 attempted to identify the use of IT and e-business within the UK construction sector with the aim of identifying barriers, enablers and the potential of using e-business. It helped in identifying, examining and analyzing the industry-perspective on e-business adoption and helped in developing recommendations for the effective uptake of e-business within the construction industry. The survey findings were critical in establishing the readiness of UK constraction industry to adopt IT and e-business technologies. It also helped in identifying the barriers and enablers to the implementation of the technologies in the routine construction business processes.

The survey questionnaire was distributed by post to a random sample of 145 construction organizations encompassing various construction disciplines including architects, engineers, contractors, manufacturers and suppliers within the United Kingdom. The overall response rate for the survey was 22″h. The survey results, in early 2002, indicated that:

  • o There was a considerable usage of IT applications in the surveyed  construction organisations.
  • o The level of IT investments largely depended on the size of the organization (i.e. larger organizations had higher budgets).
  • e-Business tools were still in the early stages of most construction organisations.
  • o There were very few performance measurement implementation in tools available to quantify the exact benefits of e-business.
  • o Most respondents were unsure of the precise benefits of e-business to their respective organizations and to themselves in particular.
  • o Issues related to Internet security and lack of standards for information exchange across networks, were the two main barriers for using e-business.
  • o Although security issues were regarded as top priority at a cross disciplinary level, these were not considered high priority in IT implementation, which is usually within the organization itself.
  • o Cultural issues, associated with the transition from traditional methods of working to the use of new tools, were seen as a major barrier.
  • o Issues associated with using the Internet, such as the invasion of privacy and unsolicited mail were not seen as major deterrents for e-business adoption.

In 2001-2002, when the survey was conducted, it was a common view among industry practitioners that the objectives for using e-business technologies in construction were not clearly defined, primarily due to a
lack of a well-defined business process model that integrated e-business with the infrastructure and legacy systems of construction companies. Also, for adopting e-business into the day-to-day working of construction projects, companies would have to radically alter their traditional processes of managing construction projects and also the ways in which project partners collaborate and communicate with one another. This survey recommended that:

  • o There was a need to develop business strategies to adopt e-business, including the most appropriate e-business business model(s) for the construction industry.
  • o Construction organizations needed to explore the new opportunities offered by e-business and re-engineer their business process to maximize benefits.
  • o Changes in the construction business process due to the adoption of e-business needed to be continually monitored and documented to develop best-practice strategies.
  • o More e-business performance measurement tools needed to be developed as technology usage matures.