Constructing a successful 2019 through digital transformation
by Burcin Kaplanoglu
January 10, 2019

When discussing technologies that will have the biggest impact on the construction industry in 2019, it’s important to think about them in the context of how they can support top business priorities. By taking a closer look at the ongoing issues driving these priorities, we better understand how rapidly advancing technologies can turn business challenges into competitive advantages.

Addressing Top Priorities

According to KPMG’s 2017 Global Construction Survey, 72 percent of respondents report that technology is a prominent piece of their strategic plan or vision for the year. However, less than half (48 percent) of respondents say their company has developed a specific data/technology implementation plan.

Fortunately, while most companies’ strategies may not yet be fully established, or exist at all, the industry as a whole is headed in the right direction in terms of technology adoption.

Still, more construction businesses need to fully embrace modern project delivery technology that enables project teams and other stakeholders to leverage common tools (and a common data environment) to drive automation and process improvements across project activities and portfolios. This is critical to any business transformation initiative.

One promising area involves the use of machine learning algorithms to automate certain aspects of the scheduling process, improving both speed and the accuracy of planning and resource management. Additionally, the ease with which teams can adjust alongside changes to the schedule increases.

A second imperative is the need for construction businesses to realize true, real-time collaboration across all stakeholders. Glaring holes still exist in the collection, sharing and use of critical performance and other project data. Although construction companies are collecting vast amounts of data from enterprise resource planning and other technologies like project controls, the information is often disconnected and delays project activities in ways that limit its utility.

This reality undermines the value of the data and forces organizations to react after the fact. But cloud collaboration and maturing technologies, such as sensors, are enabling the immediate collection of data that feeds into project controls systems. Ultimately, this allows organizations to run artificial intelligence algorithms in real time, enabling them to analyze and manage projects proactively.

Technologies Primed to Transform Your Business

So, how can construction businesses learn from 2018 and make progress through technology in 2019? The following technology categories are already paying important dividends for the early adopters and offering a promising path to innovation and business transformation for those who have yet to.

1. Cloud-Based Data Processing

In a field characterized by large numbers of personnel—working across highly distributed teams on increasingly larger and more complex projects—pursuing an integrated, cloud-based approach to data and processes can have a tremendously positive impact on project outcomes. Leveraging the cloud via mobile devices and applications is providing more businesses with the ability to quickly, easily and inexpensively manage an end-to-end project control and delivery platform. Most importantly, this technology combination improves both productivity and margins through collaborative workflows and communication, allowing stakeholders to access up-to-date data and work together more efficiently in real time.

2. The Internet of Things

The internet of things (IoT) continues to change how we approach data by enabling real-time collection and proactive management through the cloud, connected devices and mobile applications. Drones, sensors and autonomous construction equipment are also contributing to the method by which data is captured. Wireless carriers will start deploying early stage 5G in 2019, which is going to bring fiber-optic-like, high-bandwidth connectivity and low latency, greatly speeding up data transfer. Together, these developments and applications offer significant opportunities to transform project delivery by providing the tools for a truly connected worksite, helping to improve productivity, quality, safety and standardization.

3. Building Information Modeling

As building information modeling becomes increasingly prominent, its uses will continue to grow and become more valuable. Coupling innovative software applications that offer reality capture from an array of sources—including drone photos and other digital images—with integrated scheduling tools, presents a deeper and more immediate level of insight into project progress, performance and risk. These technologies are developing quickly and can yield benefits in terms of visibility into key operational project (not just design) information.

Embracing Change for Continued Gains

As Darren Bechtel, built world venture capitalist and founder of Brick and Mortar Ventures, recently said, “For an AEC organization to remain relevant, survive and thrive over the next 10 years, we believe they need to be investing in innovation right now. And much more than just talking about it, they need to be actively seeking out new technologies and learning how to work with the new generation of ever-improving solutions, or they will have a hard time remaining competitive.”

As the construction industry continues to experience a digital transformation, project- and asset-intensive organizations must navigate this changing landscape. Business decision-makers should talk to early adopters and be ready to experiment with emerging technologies. By doing so, they can quickly move their businesses into an industry leadership position and be fully prepared to harness these advancements for even greater integration and success.

For the full Darren Bechtel interview, visit Oracle's blog.