Contrary to popular belief, the construction industry is on the cusp of a technological revolution. Globally, there is a growing demand for new infrastructure to simply keep pace with a growing population. Naturally, the impulsive reaction to this dilemma is some variation of “if we need to build more stuff, let’s just hire more people.”
However, what we have noticed is that the solution to this problem is far more nuanced and will require more than quick hires.
As we look to successfully meet all construction demands, it’s become abundantly clear that we must change our approach to construction. To give ourselves the best chance of success moving forward, it is critical to address the following limiting ideologies that hold the construction industry back.
1. We Have Reached Our Maximum Productivity Level
When little changes, complacency ensues. The construction industry has certainly fallen victim to complacency. Physical paperwork, outdated equipment and word-of-mouth communication have prevented the industry from making the necessary advancements to meet demand.
Despite the fact that we are in the midst of the most substantial technological growth in history, the construction industry remains one of the least digitized industries. The lack of incorporated technology across the industry is merely the result of managers dragging their heels. In fact, 57% of construction managers have considered using jobsite tracking technology, but failed to make the move. Adding insult to injury, nearly 60% of construction companies are not even evaluating new technologies.
Frankly, we’re only scratching the surface of productivity if we don’t begin utilizing the available technology. The idea that the industry is “productive enough” without emerging technology is simply incorrect. Managers who assume their current mode of operations are effective are misinformed. Twenty-eight percent of managers actually ask for feedback from their field staff—meaning very few managers understand where they could make improvements.
Should the construction industry allow technology to play a more substantial role in its future, the implications could be dramatic. Artificial intelligence (AI) could increase the construction industry’s profits by 71% by 2035. Additionally, full-scale digitization could spell savings between $0.7 and $1.2 trillion for construction and engineering.
Without embracing technology, the construction industry will stay buried by the false ideology that we have reached our maximum level of productivity.
2. We Already Have the Tools We Need to Manage Our Projects
Despite the demand for higher quality projects continue to increase, the construction industry is using tools that are wildly outdated. Without the use of new technology, we simply will not be able to keep pace.
Today, projects are taking far too long to complete. On average, larger projects take 20% longer to finish than originally projected and run 80% over budget. It is unacceptable for projects to take this much longer and cost that much more than outlined in the estimates. Not to mention the fact that this combination of mishaps will culminate in unhappy, dissatisfied customers.
The construction industry is sadly mistaken when assuming they have the products they need. Until companies expand to include more modern management software, projects will continue to leave customers frustrated. On average, construction disputes delay projects by 14 months, and can cost stakeholders hundreds of millions of dollars.
It would be irresponsible to assume we can continue business as usual and keep customers content. As the projects get more complex and more nuanced, it will be critical to leverage advanced technological options like AI and computer vision to get additional insights into the functionality of a jobsite. Such technology will provide managers tangible, actionable data to better and more effectively manage projects and risks.
3. There is a Limit To the Role Tech Can Play in Construction
It is natural to assume technology and construction are an odd pairing. When we think of construction, it is more likely to conjure images of hammers and nails rather than computers, cameras, or robotics. That being said, technology can seamlessly integrate itself into the construction industry—and the effects will be long-lasting.
The idea that technology cannot really influence or improve the construction space is not only misguided, it is a fundamental reason why the industry is not meeting demand.
At present, a mere 18% of construction companies use advanced technology to gather project data and collaborate. Suffice it to say, that not nearly enough companies are leveraging the tools available. Such technology can provide real-time, AI-powered jobsite monitoring while offering uninhibited access to the project.
By improving transparency, stakeholders can more easily and thoroughly track any changes and all progress. AI software has the capability to track and record workflow processes as they occur, and provide automated notifications to all team members. Not only does such information give managers more access to everything happening on-site, but it can also go a long way to keeping sites safer, as well as predicting and eliminating errors. In addition, this technology will save customers and contractors significant amounts of money in the process.
With this data, site managers are given unprecedented control over their projects. Not only can technology play a major role in the construction space, it is a critical component to securing a successful future.
The bad news for the construction industry is that we have all bought into a number of false ideologies that have hindered the evolution of the space. The good news, however, is that there is still time to correct such misguided ideologies.
The coming months and years are going to demand more from construction workers in terms of quality, efficiency and productivity. To meet such demands and reverse these mistaken ideologies, it is critical the industry as a whole leverages the technology available.