McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s leading management consultants, recently conducted a study on the impact of technology in the construction industry. While technology and information have the power to increase construction productivity by three to four percent, the industry continues to struggle to embrace emerging technologies, and remains the second least digitized industry in the U.S.
Construction Productivity Growth vs. Other Industries
On average, industries around the world have experienced three to four percent annual labor-productivity growth for the last two decades. Over the course of 20 years, these industries have discovered new ways to get more out of their employees, leveraging technology, software and data analytics to streamline operations. Construction, on the other hand, remains at around one percent growth, stemming from their slow warming to emerging technologies.
There Is No Lack of New Technology
According to McKinsey, availability is no longer the problem, and construction companies have plenty of opportunities to choose and implement new productivity-focused technologies. Between venture capitalists, investors, and new companies, almost $3 billion dollars has been invested in construction technology –more than $1.7 billion in document management and $1.5 billion in equipment management and enterprise resource planning software between 2011 and 2016.
The report noted three promising technologies in particular, including:
- Predictive Analytics – Like any other industry, the construction sector can benefit from the collection and analysis of big data. Numerous companies now offer software and hardware solutions designed to optimize design, bidding, scheduling, project management, and more from a data trend standpoint.
- Safety Monitoring Wearables – Safety is a big problem in the construction industry, and technology providers have created mobile field applications or wearable technologies that allow workers and site superintendents to flag potential hazards, send safety alerts, and trigger evacuation alerts.
- Drone- and IoT-Enabled Project Monitoring – Finally, new technologies allow companies to use IoT- connected drones and other equipment to survey, comply with safety guidelines, and much more. Drones have allowed construction companies to gather important aerial data more efficiently – and safely – than ever before and at a fraction of cost.
It’s Time for Construction Companies to Embrace Digital
Even with all the technologies available to construction companies, the industry has been slow to embrace the digital revolution, impeded in part by a few key implementation challenges:
- Lack of resources: Companies do not have the extra resources – or oftentimes, an IT department – to identify, research, and evaluate the latest technologies. Encouraging each employee to embrace innovation and champion technologies they are passionate about can get around this.
- Fear of implementation: For large construction constructions with thousands of employees across thousands of jobsites, implementing a new tech solution can seem daunting. Testing and rolling out new technology systems on a limited, regional, or even project basis can help organizations work through the kinks, develop educational and training materials, and prevent major headaches or hurdles that would happen with a company-wide roll-out.
- Incompatibility with Legacy Systems: In construction, many companies have created their own custom solutions to handle various phases of the construction project from estimating to bidding to payroll to scheduling, and as such, they may fear a lack of compatibility with new and emerging systems. Solutions that are designed with an open API or companies that promote “partner programs” to integrate with existing solutions help overcome this hurdle.
Whatever the fear, it’s time for construction companies to adopt new technologies or risk falling farther behind competitors. In every industry, there is a period of innovation where early adopters gain a competitive edge. Don’t be an innovation laggard.