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Cohesive Group, an infrastructure engineering software company, has appointed David Philp as its chief value officer (CVO).

Philp, who previously worked at Aecom for eight years, will help create value for the company’s clients across the life cycles of their built assets, using life cycle data to provide a clear line of sight for clients’ investments.

“The CVO will help create value for our clients across the life cycles of their built assets,” Philp says. “And that will go beyond simple metrics like cost, for example, ESG is key for most clients these days. Using life cycle data, we will provide a clear line of sight for our clients, so that their investments deliver the best outcomes and therefore value.”

Philp will be working closely with Mark Bew, CEO of Cohesive, who he previously worked with on the UK BIM Taskforce, on creating a better built environment. The two are passionate about “donut economics”, a framework for sustainable development which combines the concept of “social foundations” with “planetary boundaries”. The CVO role will be an enabler of that.

So where does technology come into this? Bew explains: “We’ve been involved with technology in the construction sector for a long time. But technology has got more complicated. And for our clients, those owner-operators of assets, their businesses have become more complex, more competitive, more challenging from a regulatory viewpoint.”

Bew sees Philp’s role as helping clients to understand the complications of technology and to use it to solve their problems and release value: better fiscal, sustainability and social outcomes. ‘We talk about problems clients want to solve, not technology they want to buy.’

Cohesive now employs nearly 1,000 staff and comprises nine companies, which collectively look after the entire life cycle of an asset’s data, Bew explains. “That means investment, design management, procurement, delivery, commissioning and operations. We’re now looking to understand the value of those investments and implementations. We’re not so good at measuring things yet in this industry. We’re creating all this data, but we don’t do much with it yet.”

Bew wants to change that. The scale of Cohesive’s engagement with clients is now extending across most of the asset life cycle, he says. “We’re finding that developers, for example, want to focus on what they’re good at, which is being developers. So, they’re outsourcing data management to us. We then supply the data which allows them to make decisions that deliver better value, such as creating more tenant services or improving their maintenance programs.”

Cohesive has a ‘value lab’ which clients can use to understand how investments effect outcomes. “It will let our customers explore, map and discover journeys that put value as the north star,” says Philp. “A lot of clients are now asking how they can achieve more with their existing asset portfolios. So, we can offer them a sandpit to test ideas at the very beginning.”

Philp wants to cultivate curiosity, and to engage with everyone across the life cycle of an asset – investors, derivatives management teams, end user groups – to find out how can they solve their problems and achieve value for them. “We might say to a client, do you need a new asset? Or can you repurpose an existing building? And underpinning that, data will help us make informed decisions.”

Bew and Philp were among the early evangelists of digital construction in the UK, a decade or more ago. How far do they think the industry has come on its tech transformation journey?

“There are cynics and there are those who think tech can do everything,” Bew says. “David’s role is to explain how tech is relevant and can help different people. But the tech transformation is undoubtedly happening. I was chatting with the driver of a cement truck the other day and he was telling me about how he uses a tablet to order and track his deliveries. That’s the kind of change we’re seeing.”

Philp agrees that the industry has come a long way, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. “There’s a lot of hype around technology and its capabilities, but we need to focus on how it can solve real-world problems and deliver value to our clients. That’s what I’m excited to be working on at Cohesive, and I’m looking forward to helping our clients unlock value from their built assets.”

Overall, the appointment of David Philp as Chief Value Officer at Cohesive Group is expected to help the company’s clients to better understand the complications of technology and to use it to solve their problems and release value, for better fiscal, sustainability and social outcomes. With the help of Philp and the value lab offered by Cohesive, clients will be able to explore, map and discover journeys that put value as the north star, and to make informed decisions that deliver better value from their existing asset portfolios.


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