Can collaborative economy stretch to infrastructure?

Can collaborative economy stretch to infrastructure?

The collaborative economy is one of the hottest trends in business. But can ‘heavy industries' build their own collaborative models given they have no obvious connection to the consumer trends driving the rise in peer-to-peer services or sharing apps?



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Can infrastructure embrace the collaborative economy?

The current trend for a collaborative economy has seen sectors from hotels to finance disrupted by peer-to-peer services. Despite appearing to have few links to such consumer currents, the infrastructure industry is confronting the challenge head on.

At first it doesn't appear the infrastructure industry and the collaborative economy would be a natural fit. Where one is based on mutual benefit, the other can be a battleground of competing interests.

Yet a more trust-based approach to projects presents an opportunity for the infrastructure sector. Emma-Jane Houghton, associate director at KPMG in the UK, notes the vulnerability of infrastructure businesses that fail to evolve. While Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure at KPMG in the UK, estimates the cost of failure to embrace this cultural change as £8 billion in lost economic output.

This article explores the ways in which ‘heavy’ industries, such as infrastructure, can build their own collaborative models. 

Red Queen theory

  • Many infrastructure organisations work in silos and have not advanced their technology or processes for years. As Red Queen theory dictates, organisms must continually evolve to survive.
  • The KPMG report Collaborate to Survive shows how collaboration is key to advancement.

Boosting the joint venture

  • Leadership is vital to the successful establishment of joint ventures. It is down to leaders to show that corporate allegiance is secondary to the aims of the JV.
  • Focusing on customer experience and aligning the goals of everyone within the organisation, boosts innovation and provides benefits along the supply chain.

Thinking long-term

  • Building long-term relationships is the best way to ensure sustainable rewards. This includes allowing space in the planning stage to stamp out any legacy of an adversarial or score-settling culture.
  • Incentivising working together is crucial and must be embedded throughout the organisation.
  • On your reading list: Collaborate to Survive – KPMG’sreport on construction, consortia and the ‘Red Queen hypothesis’.
  • On your board agenda: How do we access the experience and expertise needed to tie down the detail in joint venture (JV) structures and contracts?
  • Anticipate tomorrow…: International consortia and JVs are becoming the norm, with more overseas contractors taking leading roles in UK projects. This trend is set to continue. So how well prepared is your business to address differences around jurisdiction, methodology and culture at every level?
  • …deliver today: Success or failure of large-project JVs and consortiums often comes down to the expertise and experience of both leaders and frontline managers. This is as much a talent issue as it is one for engineering solutions or tightly drawn contracts – and means we need to prioritise these skills and experience now.
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