Technology Adoption in the Construction Industry
Historically the construction industry has been slow and reluctant to adopt new technology. However, this trend is quickly shifting. Construction firms are adopting new technologies at an unprecedented rate. Moving beyond software, the AEC industry is also advancing their skills leveraging cutting-edge construction tools like mobile, 3D Laser Scanning, BIM, drones, AR/VR, wearable tech, and more. Understanding which technology to use for different job functions can be overwhelming. AENR article, Three Steps to Utilize Technology in Construction, highlights how companies can effectively integrate technology for increased productivity using three simple methods: adopt, embrace, and invest.
- Adopt: The JB Knowledge report results indicate that adoption of technology has been improving. As technology adoption has increased, the software platforms have evolved to keep pace. Companies are now opting for cloud-based solutions, such as Assemble, over traditional desktop solutions due to the collaborative nature of the software.
- Embrace: Personnel at all levels must embrace the technology for it to be successful. This is still a challenge that companies are currently facing. The report found that 27% of employees and 32% of managers were hesitant about technology.
- Invest: Failure to invest is likely the biggest barrier to implementation of new technology in construction. The construction industry is known to have one of the lowest Information Technology (IT) budget. Margins in construction are notoriously thin, so companies are often reluctant to set aside a decent budget for IT.
No matter how prominent a company is now, if they don’t adopt, embrace, and especially invest in technology, their productivity might be negatively impacted. To stay competitive and profitable in today’s market place, construction companies have to focus on the importance of technology.
Why Simplicity Matters in Construction
The same is true when it comes to technology in construction, where the many choices of hardware and software can be overwhelming. It’s sometimes tempting to go for the highest number of gadgets and functions, but that’s not the best approach. Simple and reliable tech will always yield the most significant ROI, full stop.
That’s not to say technology in construction must be simple on the back end, or that it shouldn’t have a lot of depth. We merely mean that users should be able to pick up a piece of technology and use it immediately, with minimal training, and a relatively functional level from the get-go. If you need one rule regarding technology in construction, here it is: less is more.
So why should you prioritize simplicity above all other construction technology traits? Well, let’s take a look.
5 Simple Construction Technology Traits for Success
Instead of lamenting the lost art of simplicity in technology (“Remember when all you had to do was invent a round, rolling thing and everyone was happy?!”), a better approach is to tune yourself to that simplicity. Once you recognize it in your options, you can start making better decisions in the construction tech your company and projects purchase.
“Build it and they will come” doesn’t apply to a construction technology implementation strategy. You can’t just go for it and hope for the best later. That’s a sure route to miscommunication, busted timelines and budgets, and even lawsuits. Nor should this mantra apply to construction apps meant to make building projects easier.
Instead, you need to select only the best, most effective, most user-friendly tech. As mentioned above, this helps level the playing field between older and younger employees. It also helps to bridge the gap between workers at different levels of management and in different roles and trades. With user-friendly technology that’s accessible to all, you no longer need a different system for architects, engineers, contractors, workers, and so on.
Follow this rule, and you can help ensure that your momentous tech purchase ends up being a long-term adoption rather than a trend of the month.
2. Clean Design and Interface
Construction professionals should be all too familiar with the concept of clean design. Busy, overly complicated plans have a Poma-ish aura about them, in which the elaborate gadgets and whirligigs meant to make life easier are themselves adding to the nightmare of confusion.
If you’re in construction, you know the ideal approach is one of absolute minimalism, with the most straightforward route to achieving an end almost universally the best one. The same goes for technology in construction. The best construction software will have a clean design and interface, which will, in turn, yield powerful results for its end users.
Speed is an obvious, yet often overlooked factor in simplicity. Think about it: How many times have you given up on tech because it loaded too slowly? If you’re doing a work-related task, consider the amount of time lost if you have to sit there and wait for an interminable page or app to load.
The best construction tech will load quickly and have the power behind it to complete workflows and tasks efficiently. We’re not just talking when the system has a light burden, either. Great tech will keep up with the fast-paced nature of the construction industry even when large teams are using it during the height of a busy workday.
4. Easy to Connect
Much like the unified theory of gravity and electromagnetism (still unsolved, for anyone feeling motivated), we have yet to develop a construction software that covers all aspects of the design and build process.
Most likely, you are using several technology solutions to complete your goal. Hopefully, you’ve chosen best-in-class options that already make use of simplicity in their fundamental design. However, to make technology in construction more effective, you need those solutions to connect.
Luckily, there are very simple and good ways to do that today, so make sure you choose the tech solutions that connect and integrate with your other core technologies easily.
5. Consistent and Accessible Across Devices
Most importantly, your technology must be readily accessible to anyone, anywhere. Your field workers most likely use mobile devices, while your team in the office in trailer likely uses desktops and laptops to do their work. If they can’t interface, you’re in trouble. The moment your apps stop working is the moment your teams stop recording important details, communicating with one another, and safeguarding the project’s budget and timeline.
A sound technology solution will be compatible and virtually the same across devices. It will enable communication, offer access to the plans and documents, and allow everyone to make notes or send information–again, all across devices and location. Simply put, software powered by the cloud makes it simple to access what you need from wherever you are.
So before you sign on the dotted line, always check which devices your software will work for.
The Takeaway? Invest in Simple Tech
In today’s construction landscape, it can feel overwhelming to keep up with the pace of change due to the sheer number of new technologies emerging on a daily basis. We’re well past the wheel and light bulb, living in a time where novelty arises every moment rather than every year or century. It’s enough to kill anyone’s attention span and actually reduce efficiency, if you let it.
The good news is, construction teams have some outstanding options. There are many construction software choices out there, and as long as you prioritize simplicity, you’re taking the first step toward a positive impact on your workflow and the success of your organization.