In the era of digital transformation and smart cities, all organisations are feeling the pressure to deploy new technology to gain competitive advantages and increase efficiency. In the construction sector, which faces tougher margins and operating conditions than most, however, many companies have lagged behind, and only a few companies have really embraced digitisation - even as the region looks to construct ever smarter buildings and city projects.

One of the leaders in the sector that been an early adopter of technology, is ASGC Group. The contractor is responsible for some of the UAE's most smart and sustainable projects, such as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, the RTA's Enterprise Command & Control Centre (EC3), and the Sustainability Pavilion for Expo 2020, although the company's investment in technology predates these projects.

Maged El-Hawary, controls director for ASGC, explained that technology innovation, along with safety and quality, are key parts of group's business vision: "We have our strategy up to 2020, and one of the things is to more depend on digitalisation and automation, and being smart in our processes and execution. This is one of the core parts of our strategies."

This strategy has included adoption of new technology such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), the appointment of a CIO, a rarity for construction companies in the region, and strategic partnerships with research institutes and universities around the world.

Most recently ASGC joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) to support it in the development of smart cities. The agreement will provide ASGC with greater access to MIT's faculty, labs, and technical expertise, as well as conferences, training, and the potential for collaborative research in new technology arenas.