Technology and change management in the evolving construction landscape of the Middle East

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To overcome challenges and harness the full potential of opportunities, businesses must embrace transformative changes at both organisational and project levels, Procore advises

In the dynamic landscape of the Middle East construction sector, where towering skyscrapers and sprawling infrastructure projects shape the horizon, change is not just inevitable but a driving force behind progress. According to a Global Data Report, the UAE’s construction market reached a value of US $93bn in 2023 and is projected to maintain an average annual growth rate (AAGR) exceeding 3% from 2025 to 2028. Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s market was valued at $133.1bn in 2022 and is poised to witness an AAGR surpassing 4% from 2024 to 2027.

The substantial expansion of both markets is primarily fuelled by factors such as infrastructure development, economic diversification, and technological advancements, among others. However, alongside these opportunities come challenges such as project complexity, tight deadlines, and evolving regulatory landscapes. Therefore, to overcome these challenges and harness the full potential of opportunities, businesses must embrace transformative changes at both organisational and project levels. Central to this transformation is the imperative of effective change management.

Need for Effective Change Management

Change management isn’t merely about adopting new technologies or processes; it’s about orchestrating a cultural shift within organisations. According to a PwC CP&I survey from 2022, while businesses are ready to modernise their operations and invest in new technologies, large enterprises must significantly change their organisational capabilities and skill sets to adapt to the demands of the giga-project age. More importantly, businesses require internal preparation in order to drive successful outcomes and enable seamless transition to a new technology.

This is where change management – a term that describes the preparation, guidance and resources provided to employees within an organisation to assist them in effectively implementing new practices – comes into play. The development of change management systems must consider the many aspects of project development and address all the internal and external factors that influence a project’s progress. Regardless of an organisation’s size, structure, or complexity, it is critical to comprehend the principles that underpin change in order to successfully accomplish objectives and implement sustainable change.

Challenges in Embracing Change

One of the many obstacles to implementing change in an organisation is employee resistance. These reservations may stem from a variety of factors, such as concerns on new practices, lack of information, expertise, or status risks, as well as other concerns. One risk that comes with implementing changes in the construction industry is the need to manage different levels of operations, while maintaining efficiency.

This is significant given that the industry is characterised by rapid projects and tight deadlines. For industries such as construction, change management is therefore an essential procedure to quell concerns and minimise any short-term disruption. Implementing effective change management strategies, some of which are mentioned below, can assist in overcoming resistance, increasing employee engagement and ensuring effective execution of new initiatives.

Role of Leadership in Driving Change

Visible and active leadership involvement throughout the project or initiative is crucial for effectively managing change at every level of the organisation. Leaders’ commitment and support for the initiative increase as they gain a better understanding of their role and how they can contribute to the change. By creating a data-driven, interactive, and adaptive stakeholder engagement plan, appropriate supporting structures can be created at every level, resulting in improved adoption across the entire organisation.

Leaders play a critical role in allocating resources, whether financial, human, or technological, to bolster change initiatives. Moreover, they foster a culture of continuous learning and development, offering coaching, mentoring, and training opportunities to facilitate smooth transitions amidst change. Through these efforts, leaders empower their workforce to embrace new technologies, procedures, and operational modes as they move forward.

Communication and its Impact on Change

Communication, an often-overlooked component of a cohesive team, is arguably one of the most important drivers of successful change management. It is fundamentally linked to leadership, as leaders must establish a culture of effective and transparent communication, thereby conveying the change vision seamlessly across all organisational tiers to pave the way for a smooth transition. Transparent communication fosters understanding among employees and stakeholders regarding the rationale behind proposed changes, promoting engagement and removing internal barriers.

As part of this, leaders must determine appropriate communication channels, goals of communication, and governance framework for message approvals. Additional strategies that can aid in this transition include employee involvement and training, thorough assessments to identify organisational needs, employee surveys, pilot groups for employee training initiatives and feedback loops to encourage open-ended communication.

The integration of new technologies has enormous potential to propel businesses forward, especially in the construction landscape. More importantly, choosing the right technology partner is critical to the success of your change management initiative. Implementing new technologies can be challenging due to the changes in processes, skills, and culture.

Companies that collaborate with trusted change management partners are better able to overcome challenges and transform themselves into future-ready, resilient entities that effectively navigate technological complexities. Businesses can get the right assistance from a qualified partner when managing change and implementing new technology. Through structured approaches and effective leadership strategies, organisations can ensure a smooth transition for teams and stakeholders, while minimising disruption, cutting costs, increasing user acceptance, and ultimately realising the full potential of technological advancements.

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