Construction Industry Poised for Technology Disruption

January 5, 2018 charity.araoz@oncenter.com

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Call it the era of two steps forward, one step backward. When it comes to widespread adoption of technology, the construction industry appears to be at a crossroads. On the one hand, we are treated to a daily dose of whiz-bang headlines—drones hovering over construction sites, off-site modular construction, and BIM impacting pre-construction design. On the flip side, there is mounting evidence of technology resistance.

More specifically, a KPMG Global Construction Survey of 200-plus senior executives revealed that as late as 2016, only 8 percent of survey respondents could be categorized as cutting-edge visionaries. Only 20 percent thought they were aggressively disrupting their construction business model with leading technology. Nearly three-fourths of the respondents said they didn’t use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring.

Rapid Change Brings New Challenges

No doubt, there are many reasons to embrace new takeoff, estimating, and production management technology—from omitting duplication of effort to minimizing errors to allowing for quicker communication between the field and the office. Even with these benefits, many construction executives are being held back by manual processes and multiple systems.

For example, just 20 percent of those surveyed by KPMG said they have a single, fully integrated project management system. They also found 69 percent are either “followers” or “behind the curve,” according to the study. This hurts when it comes to driving consistency across projects—just 27 percent reported having consistent controls.

Why are contractors unsure of new technology? First off, many feel the expense of adopting it may not be worth the risk. While they would love to train employees to be more efficient, they are hesitant to train them on the very technology that could help achieve such efficiencies.

Part of this dilemma stems from contractors who lack the know-how to select the right technology. When you add the cost of integrating disparate software solutions you end up with contractors unwilling to take a new product off the shelf—unless they can guarantee an immediate ROI.

The Promise of New Technology

Today, there is much speculation as to what the construction industry will look like in the future. There is clearly a lot to be excited about—from takeoff and estimating software to cloud-based systems to mobile apps. Plus, cutting-edge, next-generation innovations like advanced data and analytics, drones, automation, and robotics are expected to deliver even greater productivity.

Much of this buzz surrounds the potential use of modeling and analytics to pinpoint pitfalls early and avoid costly changes later. Think of how revolutionary it is for users to literally step inside a blueprint and interact with others on a project. In this scenario, decisions about changes can be evaluated and incorporated more easily and efficiently.

New tools and solutions appear to be poised to accelerate contractor productivity and improve accuracy, while also reducing the risk associated with complex building projects. Are you ready to find the right technology match for your construction business? Learn how to weigh the potential risks and rewards. On Center Software can help—read our free eBook, An Estimator’s Guide: Assessing and Picking the Right Software, to get step-by-step advice to determine where your company is and where you should be headed.

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