Business-to-business collaboration in the construction sector is being hampered by a lack of e-enablement which could see SMEs in the sector being driven out of business, a government report has warned.
The Department of Trade & Industry-sponsored report, which is due to be published next week, calls on the public sector to drive standards for supply chain collaboration which SMEs could take up.
The report found that major contractors and building materials suppliers have high levels of use of electronic collaboration tools but that middle-sized firms risk becoming an inefficient part of the supply chain and may lose business because they cannot participate fully.
Peter Gaunt, a consultant with Strategem, which carried out the research for the DTI, said that mid-sized construction businesses would lose out on business unless they joined the internet age and that the public sector, as a major customer of the sector, had a responsibility to drive take-up.
"SMEs in construction that use e-mail or e-collaboration tools can contribute to greater efficiency and get buildings built more quickly. The alternative is that smaller companies risk losing business," he said.
"Government is a prime enabler. It provides 42% of business for the sector and can help drive forward take-up by establishing standard ways of working electronically and best practices."
The research found that among the largest construction companies e-mail use was 91% and 58% used electronic project collaboration tools. Among construction sub-contractors e-mail use ran at 48% and collaboration tool take-up was 12%.