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Digital Strategy for Construction

tablet at construction site

Credits: ClaudioVentrella; Getty Images/iStockphoto

Project Team

Martin Fischer, Ashwin Agrawal

Research Overview

Observed Problem: 

Lack of understanding about the fundamental forces and factors affecting the digital transformation leading to haphazard technological decision making by the company and the customers

Primary Research Objective:

Develop a detailed and validated digital strategy framework to gain actionable insights.

Potential Value to CIFE Members and Practice:

  • A framework that helps the company to formulate its own digital strategy
  • A framework to understand the potential benefits of technology in context of a particular organization or a specific project

Research provides relevant insights for:

Owners, Designers, Construction, Operators

Research and Theoretical Contributions:

A process model of strategy formulation relevant to the current age of technology and big data, moving away from the traditional strategy frameworks having prescriptive undertone.

Industry and Academic Partners:


Research Updates & Progress Reports

Progress Report January 2021

7 semi-structured longitudinal interviews were conducted with the experienced industry professionals to gain constructive feedback on the framework. The main insight gained was that though the framework provides a structured way of thinking and emphasizes on the importance of value generation by the technology, it in its current form is unable to capture the rapid changes and entropy associated with the strategy development for big data and technology. Thus, building on this feedback we are now working towards modifying the model which is more suitable for the dynamic nature associated with technology.

The new model brings together ideas from (1) evolutionary organization theory that dynamically allows random variants of strategies to develop -- a necessity while dealing with the ever changing technological world, (2) artificial intelligence literature that talks about technology in terms of machine intelligence and capabilities providing insights into technicalities of digitalization, and (3) lean management literature that emphasize the importance of ‘value’ provided by the technology as a driver of the digital strategy. In addition, the framework highlights that for a successful execution of the digital strategy, the management and technology expectations and perspectives should be aligned.

Progress Report June 2021

We have hashed out the details of the framework that started to take shape last quarter. This research, in its current form, proposes a framework for aligning business and digital technology strategies by highlighting the potential misalignments due to unrealistic expectations from the technology (false hopes), mismeasurement of technological capabilities, unfeasible scope definitions, and implementation lags. The framework brings together ideas from the strategic management literature that emphasize the importance of technology-driven problem-solving (Technology Push) with ideas that emphasize the importance of a value-driven approach for problem-solving (Need Pull). We argue that the alignment of both approaches is necessary for successful digitalization. The framework lays out a roadmap for strategy execution by highlighting the significance of: (1) the performance indicators for the evaluation of a technology and its corresponding business value, and (2) the changes in the business processes and organization that harvest and sustain the value generated from a technology.

The framework has been developed using the Design Science Research (DSR) methodology to describe and explain the findings of field research conducted in previous case studies in AEC companies involving the implementation of digital technologies such as machine learning, digital twin, blockchain/smart contracts. The internal validity of the framework was ensured by acquiring feedback from 10 industry experts and 5 academic experts through unstructured interviews. The framework has been further tested for usefulness in a three-month, graduate-level, and project-based class at Stanford University, where 5 graduate students applied the framework in a project involving technology implementation for a commercial company. The results indicate that the framework is helpful to highlight the alignments and misalignments between the business and technology strategies. It is also useful in setting informed management expectations upfront and creating a technology implementation plan.

A manuscript is being prepared for submission in a peer-review journal and further details of the framework would be shared shortly.

Original Proposal


Funding Year: 
Stakeholder Categories: 
Operators/Facility Managers