Digital TIC

From drones to Big Data, recent advances are being embraced by TIC companies keen to offer new capabilities to their clients.

2017 saw further leaps in the digitisation of the industry. Digital inspection, predictive maintenance and integrated sensors are replacing physical inspection. These advances provide growth opportunities and help operators to raise margins, enter new markets and embed client relationships.

Inspection Services is a good example. Traditionally very labour-intensive, the service is now being transformed by the use of technology such as drones to help with crop management and asset integrity.

Some in the industry fear these developments may also lead to disintermediation and additional competition. However, the requirement for human technical expertise to interpret and use data will always make it difficult to fully automate the process.

Trading Multiples:

P/E 2017E P/E 2018E EV/EBITDA 2017E EV/EBITDA 2018E EV/EBITA 2017E EV/EBITA 2018E
Applus 17.5x 15.5x 11.3x 10.1x 15.0x 13.1x
Bureau Veritas 24.5x 23.2x 14.5x 13.4x 16.5x 15.8x
Intertek 27.5x 25.9x 16.6x 15.4x 20.2x 18.8x
SGS 26.8x 23.9x 15.1x 13.7x 19.8x 18.0x
W. Average 26.5x 24.2x 15.2x 14.0x 19.2x 17.1x

Investing in the future

Many firms are still assessing their investment strategies to capitalise on the emerging technological opportunities. Intertek, for example, has said that “superior technology, increasing productivity and giving added value to customers” are the key enablers for its growth strategy.2

Leading players are introducing a range of initiatives in a bid to enhance productivity and customer experience. Rather than developing proprietary software, they often pursue strategic partnerships with specialist technology providers. Bureau Veritas, one of the most active in this area, has ongoing initiatives involving analytics, simulation and workflow.

Harnessing the potential

New developments in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are affecting the entire business services industry. TIC is no exception.

TIC players who can harness Big Data and digital processing improvements to pull data from many disparate sources, without the integration challenges of the past, are best placed to offer a premium service. Ownership and protection of data is a growing theme and could be an opportunity or threat as TIC digitisation gains momentum. New technology is also improving analytical methods and lowering detection limits.

All these advances are helping TIC companies keep pace with growing demands for better reporting and analytics techniques, and greater accuracy.

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