Guest Editorial

2015 – Digitalisation for Innovation and Growth

Most representatives of the building materials industry started the New Year in undaunted mood. In the building industry, the positive trend of the last years is set to continue in 2015. Statisticians forecast a ­further rise in sales volume. For building material manufacturers, the increase in demand offers large ­opportunities. At the same time important challenges and developments are waiting to be addressed by companies in 2015.

Here, I am referring in particular to the increasing digitalisation of planning and building processes. This development has already become reality in other industries such as mechanical engineering under the slogan “industry 4.0”. In the future orientation of the building industry, digitalisation will also play a crucial role. As a consequence of the ever closer intermeshing of planners, architects, construction industry, suppliers and providers of building technology along the added value chain, it will be possible to realize building projects far more efficiently in the future. Simultaneously, risks will become more controllable. With innovations such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and implementation support like the platform “Digital Construction, Planning and Operation”, this trend will accelerate significantly in 2015.

Digitalisation is also being strongly introduced into the building materials industry in the field of digital media. In 2015, these media will increasingly become the critical factor for successful marketing of products – building material manufacturers already use the Internet and social media for the acquisition of new customers. In addition to being a channel for classical product distribution, digital media serve as an effective instrument for customer retention, since they offer a good possibility for individualized support and communication with the customer.

One outstanding example is the initiative of a German family-owned building materials company, which recently developed and implemented a comprehensive online distribution and marketing concept. Beside the “classical Internet presence”, the company’s concept includes a digital search engine for specialist companies, which serves as a basis for successful acquisition of new customers. Another feature is registration of the company with all digital classified directories and with platforms such as Google + Local. For distribution partners of the building materials manufacturer, the concept also includes locally-optimised Google AdWords advertisements, so that the distribution partners appear right at the top of the list of results for any search for a particular building material. Naturally, such a comprehensive digital concept has to include optimised landing pages for specialist companies.

The progressing digitalisation offers great opportunities. 2015 is the year to take full advantage of them!

Wilhelm Lerner
Partner, Strategy & Innovation Consulting Arthur D. Little, Frankfurt


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