Nadja Kirchhof


Successes in digitization are visible: Construction industry making progress in small steps

  • SME digitalization index 2020/2021 – construction industry six index points below industry average
  • Greatest progress in digital customer communication
  • Willingness to invest virtually unbroken

Although the level of digitization in the German construction industry has remained the same as in the previous year at 52 out of a possible 100 points, digital successes are visible. Overall, construction companies are six points below the industry average. 38 percent of companies have so far anchored digitization in their business strategy. Across all industries, the rate is 53 percent. 40 percent of companies are implementing at least individual digital projects. These are the findings of the representative Telekom study "Digitalization index for SMEs 2020/2021". 

Focus on customer relationships

Companies have made progress in addressing customers digitally. More and more companies are launching consulting services via digital channels. With the help of digital tools and configurators, companies are trying to meet the individual needs of their customers with precision. 17 percent of companies use online configurators. As many as 18 percent of the companies offer their customers a virtual insight with indoor digitization. Buildings and rooms can thus be viewed in detail before an on-site appointment. Overall, the industry improved its customer relations to an index value of 51, which means that the construction industry has gained one point compared with the previous year.

"It is becoming increasingly important for the success of construction companies to respond to customers' individual wishes with digital tools," says Thomas Spreitzer, responsible for Small and Medium Enterprise Sales, Partner Sales and Marketing at Telekom Deutschland. "The survey shows that the construction industry has at least recognized the need to catch up in terms of digitization. Many jobs can be shifted to the home office. The top digitizers are showing the way this year: They are more crisis-proof and flexible, even when dealing with new situations." 

More digitization thanks to industry-specific applications

31 percent of the companies surveyed use a digital construction diary. All data is recorded in it - from planning, structure and execution to construction progress and defect notifications. Information is stored digitally and can be viewed and accessed by all project participants at any time. 15 percent of construction companies use the Building Information Modeling (BIM) method. With the planning and control module, all relevant building data can be digitally recorded, combined and networked. Thanks to BIM, digital simulations are possible even before construction. Planning errors can be minimized, and potential additional costs identified at an early stage.

Less influence from Corona

Unlike other sectors, the German construction industry has been less affected by the Corona pandemic. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has also boosted digitization in the construction industry. 46 percent of construction companies responded by adapting their business model, products and services in the short term. 53 percent of construction companies shifted jobs to home offices as a result of the pandemic. Administrative and planning tasks can be done away from the construction site. 

Advantage for top digitizers

79 percent of digital leaders in the construction industry confirm that they are more crisis-resistant because their business model and processes were already highly digitized. Of the other companies, only 42 percent drew a similar conclusion. 95 percent of the top digitizers in the construction industry stated that they were able to respond quickly and flexibly to the crisis. Across the industry, only 39 percent answered this question in the affirmative.

Majority want to continue investing in digitization

Only twelve percent of companies said they would have to reduce investments in digitization projects in 2021 due to the pandemic. However, seven out of ten companies expect to be able to implement their investment plans in digitization projects unchanged. In order to push digital projects, 18 percent of construction companies even want to invest more.

Free self-check

For the study, analysts from techconsult surveyed more than 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. The overall study and the individual reports on sectors are available free of charge here: Companies can also check their digital status quo themselves. The check is also free, goes online and takes just a few minutes. It also enables a convenient comparison with other companies.

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