23 September 2019

So the Rugby World Cup is here again. It is the culmination of four years’ work to ensure that the right team is operating at peak performance and to deliver on a shared objective - to lift probably the most beautiful trophy in sport, the Webb Ellis Cup.

I am an out and out rugby fan and love the sport on so many levels. As well as being an amazing sporting spectacle, for me, it also embodies the whole concept of teamwork and leadership. A rugby team has a place for people of all shapes and sizes. Everyone has a part to play in the success of the team and no single party can be successful without the support and performance of their teammates. Decision making takes place on the field with the captain leading and motivating the team to keep delivering.

Much of this can be overlaid with the same concepts on a construction project. Our shared objective is the delivery of the scheme for our client and a four year planning and delivery period is certainly not unusual! The different types of team members all have their important, but linked roles and teamwork is fundamental to success.

But there is a hidden world that has reshaped the game. In rugby, like most sports, data and analysis is fundamental. I first became aware of this with Sir Clive Woodward and his ‘Kaizen’ approach - the use of small changes in every area to create a substantial improvement overall. His England team were transformed into world champions and the data approach became the norm. These analytics included understanding the barriers to success, planning the most appropriate approach to the game and monitoring the performance of the team. Off-field, a new approach to improving the team through focussed training and physical conditioning ensured that the individuals would operate at their optimum. In high stakes games, there is a fine line between success and failure and the data approach sought to move those margins in favour of success.

In construction, we have still to make that real shift to a data led approach. Yes, there are exemplars of how this can be achieved, but as an industry, we are laggards. Our processes are disjointed, we operate as independent players and all too often, we fail to deliver for our clients. We have to change. There are many reports that show us the way forward (from BCG, McKinsey and the World Economic Forum) so we have a direction on both digitisation and productivity. The UK’s post-Grenfell Hackitt report has to be the culmination of why this fundamental change has to take place.

In NBS we are one part of that movement - a small step in the overall change management process to a truly integrated digital industry. Our NBS Chorus platform has been designed to support collaborative working, reinforcing the shared data models in the cloud and supporting successful teams to remove the errors between their data sets. We take this further by dynamically linking to geometry models and outputting directly to common data environments. We also support multiple tools in a wider BIM ecosystem that allows our users to manage this data in the tools they like to use, not the ones they have to. Our customers will be able to analyse their data use across projects and to reuse this information easily and safely, to improve performance and efficiency, delivering more certainty for the team and for our clients.

As we watch the elite players doing battle in Japan, we will be shown live statistical analysis on performance and comment on how the teams and players need to adapt and improve. Let’s hope that by the next World Cup in four years’ time, we will be doing the same in construction.