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Digitalise, automate or become obsolete

Adopting technological changes will shift productivity upwards and help achieve economic profitability. NST

TECHNOLOGICAL advancements have encompassed industries around the world. However, the land and infrastructure industry has been wary of treading digitally, due to fear of high capital involvement.

In the endeavour to cut capital costs, a lot of companies refrain from deploying available advanced technologies and are, hence, left behind.

While other sectors are replacing manual labour with automation, this industry is opting for the reverse to remain less capital intensive. The rate of productivity is on a decline compared with other industries that have embraced digitalisation.

While the hesitation of adopting new technologies is mainly to avoid capital investments, it is also partly due to lack of adequate knowledge and ambiguity about feasibility. The resistance of employees to embrace changes often stands as an obstacle to upgrading to newer technologies.


A huge chunk of production cost gets wasted on the field due to coordination errors, labour inaccuracy, wasted materials and other discrepancies in the supply chain management. Lack of investment in digitalisation means a delay in sharing and recording of important information.

Performance management and project planning techniques are not efficient enough to create smooth communication between workers and the decision-makers.


The finances put in to digitalise the management of assets, workforce and overall functioning would mean sustainable and far more efficient operations for all future projects. Geological information be it topography, structure, or surrounding environment are all necessary factors in determining project decisions. Miscalculations and inefficiencies may lead to an immense drop in profitability.

geoAMPS’ GIS (Geographical Information System) technology helps to improve the quality of information with its intuitive geo-spatial view of the land assets.


Specifically, when considering the Malaysian construction industry, a large number of projects in the country go through payment hurdles, essentially due to the glitches in the whole management system. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s digitalisation index, the construction industry is one of the least digitised industries in the world due to underinvestment in digitisation, innovation, and capital.

The recent announcement of 2020 Budget, throws primary focus onto the construction industry. With young Malaysians desiring to buy their first homes, and the government’s plan to provide special financing schemes, the property sector is likely to see an upward movement.

The government’s plan is to complete mega projects such as the Pan Borneo Highway, as stated recently by Works Minister Baru Bian. Such projects constitute a huge potential to improve productivity. Malaysia has become overly dependent on low-skilled labour, as stated during the 2020 Budget.

The need to embrace automation is high. It will not only boost productivity, but will also mark a rise in the gross domestic product. The ability to break through and adopt technological changes in this industry will mark an upward shift in productivity and, eventually, economic profitability.

An all-in-one integrated system to track end to end functioning is necessary to truly capitalise on digitalisation. This will largely help to surpass the risk of becoming obsolete in this digital age. The digitalisation of the land and construction industry is long overdue and imperative.


Chief Executive Officer geoAMPS Ohio, United States

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