A commonly held belief is that most New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten by the third week of January. While there seems to be little scientific basis for this timeframe, the idea certainly makes for some interesting discussions in the break room. I am sure that construction leaders in the Middle East are eager to devise – and publicise – their business resolutions for 2019, but which items must they prioritise on their wish lists, which will undoubtedly impact the sector’s New Year plans for growth?
Goal-setting is a healthy exercise, both for business leaders and professionals, but to understand what we should pursue in 2019, it is important to review the shortcomings of 2018. Construction Week has published countless insights and news articles about the latter, tackling everything from payment delays to skills shortages, construction disputes, and market liquidity. We have heard from the Middle East’s top construction contracting bosses in 2018, and also had the opportunity to relay the concerns of the engineering staff working at these firms, which included issues such as low salaries and insufficient career development opportunities. With all this in mind, how can success be defined in 2019?
At Construction Week, we have found that, regardless of position in the organisational hierarchy, it makes business sense to pursue productivity. For chief executive officers and managing directors, this means cutting costs and improving the bottom line. Professionals in mid- or junior-level roles might instead describe a successful year as one in which they received a promotion, or added an educational qualification to their CV. These different ambitions actually rely on quite similar tools and strategies.
Construction experts around the world are adopting technology to make business operations more efficient and streamlined. In the region, building bosses are using cost management software to better track their finances, and the best of engineering supervisors are strapping on smart watches to remotely manage multiple worksites. Similarly, ‘lean’ principles are finding favour in the Middle East, with company leaders and employees alike using these management guidelines to improve the quality and efficiency of their output.
Of course, technology is not the only answer to the problems that our industry might face in 2019. A smart watch or telematics-enabled truck will not protect a contractor against, say, the impact of low oil prices on market demand.
However, regional megaprojects are nearing their completion deadlines, and the GCC’s economic diversification mandates continue to drive developments. These opportunities may well protect engineering firms against the challenges they expect to face in 2019, but to truly succeed in the New Year, they will need more than just a set of resolutions that might not even make it to spring.