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Assessment of the Level of Technology Adoption in Construction Industry in Nigeria

 

ABSTRACT

This study was carried out on the assessment of the level of technology adoption in Construction Industry in Nigeria. A comprehensive questionnaire was designed and administered to the respondents (construction industry professional) for data collection and analysis. A total of 63 respondents to a questionnaire survey most of which were construction companies provided empirical data for the analysis. Preliminary findings indicate that Nigerian Construction Industry has not fully appreciated the value of technology and the impact of its use on the productivity value chain management. This delay in technology uptake in Nigerian construction industry is limiting advances in construction quality, cost efficiencies and competitiveness of local firms.  However, there are indications that the construction companies in Nigeria are beginning to realize that they would record substantial financial benefits as a result of Technological implementation and are flexible in the case of adapting to new technology. The survey through the questionnaire had limitations as it relates to industry best practice in the international Arena because of varying applications of construction techniques and methodologies.  Furthermore, the survey was relatively small compare to the target group of over 2000 industry players. This was mainly due to lack of funding for the research.  However, the study establishes a baseline for future construction sector technology studies and further registered the sectoral technology competitiveness of the Nigeria construction industry.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The digital world is experiencing a revolution in the magnitude of data and information that is being captured and recorded in different fields (Omran, 2016). This trend towards digitisation and automation has made its way into the arenas of construction. The current advancement in technology offers innovative techniques that take advantage of the immense amount of data that can be collected at every stage of the construction process. Data analytics, in particular, has become a renaissance in many fields of human endeavour. The advent of technologies creates new opportunities for competitive advantage for businesses and processes in the industry (Bilal & Oyedele, 2020).

As most of the fields in every human endeavour are moving with technological advancements driven by big data capabilities, the knowledge about new technology like big data analytics will no doubt offer opportunities for growth, productivity and efficiency in the construction industry.

Technology has radically transformed the way we live, learn, work and play (Capron 2000). Many companies in the construction industry do not generally appear to have appreciated the positive changes and advantages that the new technology was providing to companies in other sectors of the economy. A major construction process demands heavy exchange of data and information between project participants on a daily basis (Masqsood et al., 2014). This makes the construction industry one of the most information-intensive industries, and requires close coordination among a large number of specialized but interdependent organizations and individuals to achieve the cost, time, quality and sustainability goals of construction project (Ugwu et al., 2015). Technology has been shown to be a vital tool in assisting the construction industry to cope with the increasing complexity of its product and services as well as the increasing demands of clients and regulators (Betts,2019), and to enhance construction productivity (Liston et al., 2000). To assess the impact of technology on construction in this regard, surveys on the use of technology in the construction industries of various countries in different parts of the world have been carried out in recent times.

The use of technology in the construction industry can possess a multitude of benefits, in the long-run as well as in the short run. Kodama (2012) and Kocarev, (2012) have stated that if a construction firm can strategically invest in Technology, it will enable the company to reduce both costs and time in the capital works process. Furthermore, it will assist the firm in fulfilling the needs of its clients and improving the delivery of services.

While most of these surveys have been carried out in highly developed European countries and Asian economics, only the South African survey by Arif & Karam (2011) represent an emerging economy in Africa. Oladapo (2017) has also carried out a survey into the use of technology in the Nigeria construction industry. However, his survey apart from it being limited to South West Nigeria, focused more on the level of computer literacy of construction industry professionals and mode of acquisition. Oyediran (2015) studied the awareness and adoption of technology by Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry educators in Nigeria. Adejimi and Iyagba (2017) compared E-construction technology for integrating building processes between Nigeria, Canada and the Nordic countries. Their study however revealed that the digital divide between Nigeria and the developed world is closing up as more and more computer facilities are becoming accessible. However, they also indicated that modern and advanced information technology facilities such as internet, intra/extranet, virtual reality tools, tele/video conferencing, construction robots etc are grossly inadequate.

The intent of this research work is to ascertain the level of technology adoption in Construction Industry in Nigeria and also to determine the prospects with respect to the benefits, cost, risks and research and development needs.

1.2   PROBLEM STATEMENT 

Keeping in mind the benefits that Technological implementation will render to construction firms, there are certain constraints and barriers that have been realized in the actual implementation of technology in a company. These factors are identified as lack of technology investment decisions, lack of organizational adoption and loss of business outcome in the construction industry (Lenny, 2019). According to Rogers (2013), some socio-economic perspectives including industry characteristics, market situation, managerial perspective and psychological perspective can serve as barriers to innovation diffusion in firms. Although Rogers did not talk about construction sector specifically, these socio-economic perspectives can be generalized to the construction industry.

Research has indicated that technological adoption in an organization should go through technical diffusion as the first step of the process. Samad et al. (2016) mentioned that organizational culture and management could aid in successful technological diffusion across it. Similarly, barriers to technology include cultural, organizational and institutional barriers. These include clients who undervalue and discourage innovation, the dynamic and unpredictable production environment in which buildings are constructed, general industry resistance to change and anti-intellectual culture (Slaughter, 2000). The barriers also include poor training and skills development and traditional and professional trade practices that are threatened by the introduction of new technologies (Brandon & Lu, 2018).  Construction firms also lack investment in research and development processes (Sexton & Barrett, 2013). Moreover, factors that hinder the development of technology include lack of uniformity of decision makers, the complexity of new projects and the variety of differentiated activities involved in any construction project (Lenny, 2019).

1.3  AIMS AND OBJECTIVES 

 The aim of the study is to assess the level of technology adoption in Construction Industry in Nigeria. Against this background, the objectives of the study are to:

  1. Assess the impact areas and the level of used of technology by construction companies in Nigeria.
  2. Evaluate the benefits (strategic, tactical and operational) of adopting technology in construction.
  3. Evaluate the cost implication of adopting technology in construction.
  4. Assess the risk factors associated with the adoption of technology in the construction industry.

1.4       JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY

The construction sector contributes significantly to the GDP of a nation. In developed countries such as Japan and Korea, construction contributes up to 12 to 14 percent of GDP (Gann, 2000). In the developing countries (according to Dharwadker, 1979) investments in construction projects could be as high as 50 to 60 percent of national budgets.

Over the past twenty years, ICT has witnessed tremendous innovations.  Two decades before, technology was limited to PTT, which stands for Post, Telephone and Telegram. ICT was predominantly controlled by the government and public services. However, today, ICT sector includes hardware, software, internet and telephony content, applications, and support services. It should be noticed that these dynamic services are now provided by a wide variety of businesses including corporate giants, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs, individual developers and open-source networks (Avgerou, Hayes, & La Rovere, 2016).

From 2015 to 2013, there was an increase in the broadband internet subscriptions and mobile subscriptions (Blessing, 2012, pp. 188). Therefore, developing strong internet mobile infrastructure leads to establishing an effective and efficient flow of communication across partners in different fields. Today, a multitude of businesses such as health, education, public services, and government-funded organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) use ICT for strengthening communication flow.

Similarly, business firms are increasingly using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to improve their management processes and join global supply chains. Moreover, with respect to the diffusion of ICT in an organization, the extent to which it can reap benefits from ICT depends upon its capacity to adapt to changing work processes (Kling, 1980).

1.5       SCOPE OF THE STUDY 

The research covers a review of technology adoptions and applications by some construction companies in Nigeria. The companies under study are both foreign companies (Julius Berger, Costain, RCC, CCECC, Bulletin, Hitech, PW, Setraco etc) and indigenous (Ferotex, Master holdings, Maloon, Amec, Jukok, Amumco global, Horoda Ltd, Richgold, Tetratech etc) operating in Nigeria. Appropriate quantitative techniques were employed in analyzing the data gathered.

1.6       HYPOTHESIS STATEMENT

Ho: The benefit derived from adopting technology does not justify its investment.

H1: The benefits derived from adopting technology justify its investment.

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