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Inspiring insights into innovation in construction from the thought leader Dr.Georgios Kapogiannis

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

In this post, I invited Dr. Georgios Kapogiannis to discuss #digitaltransformation and the latest trends in #innovation that affect the construction industry. George's work related to innovation in construction has been internationally recognized and awarded; he has a great experience as a transformational leader and is a recognized thought leader with an international academic and industry background worldwide.

Digital transformation concept

Can you give us some information about your background in digital transformation, leadership and innovation?

My work has been recognized and published in world international leading Journals, Books, Digital & Media Platforms and Conferences. During my career, I won several prestigious National and International Awards and Prizes related to Innovation in Construction and was recognized for my contribution in Zhejiang Province, China (2021) with the Prize of “Cultural Ambassador” during the COVID-19 period.

My expertise is in a) design and development of a collaborative culture in construction projects and enterprises b) help SMEs to be digitally transformed and c) design integrated digital solutions for AECO SMEs. Beside this I help enterprises to develop Thought Leadership strategy and content (digital built environment). Currently, I serve as a Visiting Professor in Digital Transformation and implementation at the Ningbo Institute for Supply Chain Management | MIT Global Scale in China while I am an Associate Professor at Oryx Universal College in Partnership with Liverpool John Moores University (UK). Throughout my career, I have been a transformational leader in the broader built environment and IT industry by promoting innovation through applied science research. This includes his prior international experience at Nottingham University (CH), Glodon (CH) Anglia Ruskin University (UK), Hellenic Ministry of Education and Religion Affairs (GR) and more.

Moreover, I possess a PhD in Construction and Project Management from The University of Salford (UK) with a scholarship from EU/CoSpaces Project. My academic background covers areas in Information Systems, Business Management and Finance, Economics and Management of Telecommunication Networks from world-leading Universities. Besides this, I am a certified Project Manager (PRINCE2 and PMI), an accredited trainer from BRE (UK) in ISO19650 and a member of the peer review college of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC/EPSRC/EU) since 2015 (after invitation). Further to this, I served as the Chairman of the CIOB for Coventry and Warwickshire and was a co-founder and member of the UK BIM Alliance – BIM Region East in 2016.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role as an academic in the AEC sector?

Students get confused between 3D modelling and #BIM. They think that is the same. This is also repeated with data vs information. That happens because in the market there are authors that misuse these terms and consequently mislead the audience. However, Universities are here to educate students on how to make the best use of 3D Models and other digital technologies to support the day 2-day work. However, there are institutes partnering with vendors and offering a range of training that can lead to innovation (ground or applied science) solutions. It is true the literature is really rich with high-quality research but we need to understand better the needs of the project lifecycle to offer more fulfilled and integrated solutions.

What do you think about the current state of innovation in the construction industry and what we can expect for the future?

The current state of innovation is a) high-quality LOD400/LOD500 3D Information Modelling using GPS/GIS utilizing drone tech b) Robots in place to replace human entity e.g. painting for large-scale surfaces c) Automated 3D modelling d) offsite manufacturing and e) digital manufacturing and construction in terms of closing the performance gap.

Future is the Blockchain Technology with Smart Construction, Data Security, Robots to improve life cycle BIM assessments, Digital Asset and Financial Management, Intelligent Procurement and Digital Maintenance. That is why we will see more graduate students in the area of Digital Engineering e.g. UCL, University of Warwick etc.

Do you think innovation can be taught or studied? What are the skills of an innovation leader in construction?

John Maxwell said, “ Leaders become great, not because of their powers, but their ability to empower others”. Therefore, we need a very good grasp of the AECO procedures and technical knowledge e.g. material, process etc. so to be able to innovate. Engineers need to learn out of the box, therefore as I keep saying we need social sciences more and more into engineering to form Digital Engineers. Universities have to embed Digital Engineers modules from the Business Schools so to get a better understanding of how enterprises are functioning, challenges, changes, management etc. to accommodate the Digital Transformation requirements. Thereafter, the enterprises will become more mature and over the years industries and society’s transformation will evitable become more intelligent will be achieved by meeting strategic milestones and goals

The construction industry is considered fragmented with a major impact on productivity as well as project time and cost. Is BIM the answer to these problems?

BIM is a paradigm; therefore, if experts cannot really integrate people, process, and technology then the construction industry will remain fragmented. In education, the transdisciplinary approach has been initiated nearly 6 years ago. It is remarkable therefore to investigate, critically analyse and evaluate “productivity” in construction with and without BIM. Then we can see really whether there is a real improvement in it. No doubt, there are colleagues including myself that indeed there is a significant impact; however, how far have we been to the next stages to become more innovative and integrated? BIM is already dead….Integration just started a few years ago. We need to learn from Information Systems how technology is progressing and adapt faster and in a more efficient way.

The digital transformation changes the way we produce and manage information and transforms the sector’s collaboration processes. How can we promote a collaborative culture in construction?

#ISO19650 is already in place over the last 2 years and has been updated on a regular basis. As you can see this standard is about the production and management of information! Anytime of information! Nothing is discussed in relation strictly to BIM…..therefore, is vital to explore, investigate and develop a collaborative culture that by using integrated collaborative platforms will enable people to enhance the construction process. Therefore, a digital transformation strategy will be easier to design within AECO enterprises and thus applied in construction projects. Bear in mind that we are looking for win-win results.

What would you advise young professionals that are just starting with BIM and have to select between the various technologies available in the industry? Is there a “dream job” for young graduates?

The “dream job” for young graduates starts when they understand how a construction business operates. If this is clear alongside an understanding of construction processes, then the adaptability will be easier and faster. Specialisation is good but generalisation is better. In the BIM world, graduates need to have a hybrid understanding of both horizontal and vertical manners to be able to comply with the industry’s needs. In addition, I highly recommend all students spend 1 semester abroad to understand other markets and needs because each construction project is unique and each country on this planet has its own uniqueness. By travelling, living, and working on 3 continents (Asia, the Middle East and Europe), I can say for sure, that each land is different – sand etc. Therefore, we need to explore and understand the particularities of each area and adopt digital transformation strategy and so on.

#Interview by Panagiotidou Nicoleta, BIM specialist for Breakwithanarchitect

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