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By John Biggs
February 5, 2018
Construction has long been a laggard in making the commitment to digitalizing operations, and many have said that slow pace of adoption has cost the industry. But that trend seems to be reversing as more companies are looking to technology for much-needed gains in productivity and streamlining processes.
The pattern follows a national trend across industries increasing their overall tech budgets. A report by Forrester Research Inc., according to Silicon Angle, predicted overall tech spending in the U.S. would increase in 2017 by $1.51 trillion, or 5.1%.
Software Connect recently published its Construction Technology Trends report for 2018, which surveyed 158 SMB construction company professionals about their current use of technology and their future plans for implementing new technologies. Among the report’s key findings were that a staggering 81% of those surveyed said they plan to spend more on technology in 2018 than in 2017.
Drones are expected to continue to take off in the industry, with 26% of respondents saying they either already use or are planning to start incorporating the unmanned aerial aircraft into their businesses by 2020. Goldman Sachs predicts the construction industry will lead all other commercial industries in drone adoption, spending up to $11 billion on the technology. This is perhaps no big surprise considering the utility of drones for construction and their potential to greatly improve productivity, cut down on human labor and increase worker safety.
The report also found that cloud is king in construction, with construction software buyers more willing to consider cloud-hosted software, 5% more than all other industries. Use of advanced technologies are also continuing to rise, with big increases expected over the next two years. The report shows use of autonomous equipment and drones are expected to rise 8% by 2020, with current usage at 16% and 18%, respectively. Virtual reality/augmented reality and 3D printing are also on the rise, with both expected to more than double in use from single digits to 14% and 11%, respectively, according to the report.
We’ve written about construction management software, and how choosing the right platforms or suites can improve just about every aspect of a project. According to Software Connect’s survey respondents, project tracking, estimating and job costing were among the most commonly required software functions. Somewhat surprisingly, ease of use was cited as the single most important consideration in a software purchasing decision, eclipsing even that over functionality and cost. When implementing new software, time spent training workers, contractors or other staff is time taken away from the job. That means software on which staff can be easily trained is prized in an industry where time is money.
The use of mobile devices continues to increase as well, according to the trends report, with daily field reports, customer and job information and drawings, photos and documents leading the pack as the most common use-cases of mobile devices in construction. Apps have also landed as an indispensable tool for most professionals, with 58% of survey respondents saying their businesses uses mobile apps “sometimes” at the very least, with hosted or cloud software users even more likely to rely on mobile apps.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is currently being used by just over half of survey respondents’ companies, but more than half of those say they’re either somewhat satisfied or not satisfied with its usage. This could be accounted for by companies not engaging with the technology in a way that maximizes its utility, according to Software Connect. The McGraw-Hill Construction Report found that when it comes to BIM, what companies get out of the technology is commensurate with what they put in. The more engaged BIM users are, the more return on investment they recuperated.
The days of the industry falling behind in leveraging new and emerging technologies relative to other commercial industries might be coming to a close as the tech becomes more affordable and useful than ever. It’s an interesting reversal, and one bound to have far-reaching implications on construction companies going forward should the new trend continue.
If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks you my enjoy:
Keeping Your Technology Up to Date
How Construction Technology is Saving Time, Money, and Jobs
Technology Chargeback in the Construction Industry
construction technology increase
Project Management Software
Using Tech to Win More Business
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