Leaders UAE 2018 Preview: Technology to support 'resilience' of UAE construction

The right cost and information management systems can help to increase the competitiveness of the Emirates' building sector, CCS Gulf's general manager told Construction Week

Technology is crucial to the resilience of the UAE's construction industry, a CCS expert said [representational image].
Technology is crucial to the resilience of the UAE's construction industry, a CCS expert said [representational image].

Ian Hauptfleisch, general manager of Construction Computer Software (CCS) Gulf, shares his insights on the UAE’s industry a month ahead of Construction Week: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018.

What are the main challenges facing the construction industry in 2018?

The construction industry is a challenging one with low margins and high risks attributable to many unknowns, variables and complexity under immense time and resource restraints so increased accuracy, speed, auditability and consistency of construction estimation and cost control information, data and analysis is essential and of priority to any contracting organisation.

Projects are essentially the lifeblood of contracting organisations – without projects, there would be no designs and planning, manufacturing of construction and engineering materials and equipment, employment for a huge labour contingent, facilities management, or property letting – and this list could go on. The repercussions of the lower oil price, that effectively drives the economy of the GCC, had a marked impact across all business sectors, resulting in less private and public projects coming on-line and many retracted or downscaled post award due to the economic climate.

What excites you most about the UAE construction industry in 2018?

At risk of sounding clichéd, challenges present opportunities, and for this reason we see the rise of disruptors –be they in the form of people, processes, or systems. The construction industry may be considered one of the least digitised in the world, but what we lack in digitisation and adoptive technology, we make up for in innovation and resilience. I am excited to see how the UAE and the GCC construction industry at large rebound as they have done before.

What are the latest launches that your company has unveiled this year?

CCS never stands still, and we continually extend and enhance our Candy and BuildSmart solutions and service offerings in line with, and often ahead of, industry-, technology-, user-, and country- or territory-specific requirements. All developments, additions, extensions, and enhancements to CCS solutions are carefully considered and evaluated for their value-add to our existing and prospective client base, as well as the industry on the whole. Our updates are aligned with best, and legislative, and statutory practices.

Current developments for Candy, our estimation and project control system, include enhancing and extending its multi-user capabilities, subcontract adjudication facilities, tender finalisation, and cost reporting, as well as improvements to our onscreen quantity take-off for 3D modelling compatibility and building information modelling functionality.

In terms of BuildSmart, our web-based construction accounting and enterprise resource planning system, we’re already prepared for the value-added tax (VAT) in the GCC and the goods and services tax (GST) in India. Further developments include more and enhanced mobile features, plus the addition of an onsite virtual store, and inventory control linked to Candy budgets or allowables. We are also introducing the integration of locational cost control in purchasing, delivery, and reporting.

What other news can we expect from CCS in the near future?

The GCC and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region still hold immense potential for us to expand our existing and new user base. Many existing users and organisations under-utilise our solutions, and one of our priorities is to help them realise the potential of their systems, and maximise the capability of their investments. This is imperative in the current economic climate.

As part of our global expansion strategy, we’re actively engaging with potential, localised business development partners in new markets, and at the same time, are supplementing our human capital and capacity to deliver new and exciting developments, enhancements, and requirements faster and more efficiently to our ever-growing and changing clientele and industry.

Why is it important for CCS, and for you, to support and attend CW: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018?

Leaders – irrespective of the industry or business they are in – provide essential and measured insights and visions for the current and future from their wealth of experience and expertise. They inspire and develop employees, peers, and the industry at large to initiate change at the right time, pace, and level to remain relevant in an ever-changing socioeconomic, digital, and political climate.

The one constant in construction is change, and it is one of, if not the most, affected industry when it comes to these changes. But at the same time, it is also one of the most resilient industries. An initiative to gather leading construction and business minds and practical ‘been there, done that’ proficiency into one collaborative forum is invaluable for everyone in this challenging, yet ultimately rewarding, industry.

Which topics are you looking forward to discussing at the CW: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018?

The topics that we expect to hear about at this year’s event include VAT in the GCC, cash flow, the oil price and its effect on the construction industry, adapting to now and the future, upskilling and education, and digitisation and tech adoption. We may also see more focused discussions about going back to the basics for success.

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