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By Samuel Russin
August 6, 2018
Construction projects are becoming ever more complex, while being expected to be completed in less time and with increased operational efficiency.
New softwares and the overall digitisaton of the industry is set to soar, with industry body StartUpAus predicting Australian construction technology startups have attracted at least $98 million in investment since the start of 2016.
Having a single view of the multiple touchpoints in construction is becoming increasingly accessible thanks to such advancements and investments in technology for this burgeoning industry.
Jobsite ANZ spoke with Landscape Estimator, Anna Turner, about how technology is changing the game for construction professionals—not just in terms of how the work is completed, but also the potential for new kinds of work, insights, and reporting structures.
Turner works with a variety of construction professionals on pricing for commercial and high-end residential projects, interacting with a variety of construction companies and professionals on a daily basis. She has seen firsthand how they are adapting their technology to suit the changing conditions.
“The big players have realised that they need to systemise their approach and streamline,” says Turner.
The use of construction technology in Australia is currently at a major tipping point. The industry has been slow to embrace technology—in 2014-2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics identified the rate of innovation in the construction industry as third last nationwide; only agriculture and transportation had worse results.
Now, new initiatives for funding at the state and national levels have seen a surge in the number of construction technology startups, bolstering the industry. What is more, some dominant players are offering a range of new services: from those that leverage the ubiquitous smartphones, to those reflecting the mobility of construction sites within the mobility and flexibility of cloud technology.
Turner spoke of the transformation in the industry regarding adoption of technology.
“Seventy-five per cent of landscape contractors are a staff size of five or under, and its purely because they don’t have a means of managing their systems and processes,” claims Turner. “The generation coming through now know that technology can really help, and they are making that change. You can’t grow without embracing the software—it’s just not possible.”
Turner also believes that a unified approach to software is required to streamline processes.
“A lot of people I talk to are using five or six pieces of different software, and that might be an excel spreadsheet, a word document, Trello, Dropbox… the list goes on. And they are running it through Xero or other accounting packages as well, and it’s just like this enormous beast of hack around.”
There are many downsides to a scattered approach. Firstly, many of those solutions are not integrated with one another—they do not talk to each other. As stated by Turner, this leads to ‘hack around’ where integrations are cobbled together but may not fully work with one another.
What’s more, it takes much more time to onboard staff to use a variety of systems. It is also often costlier to have multiple solutions; even if there is an initial discount, this can be quickly eroded by onboarding time and process inefficacies. An integrated, unified system that is widely compatible will save both time and money for construction professionals.
And what about the companies or construction professionals that refuse to embrace the advent of new technology and maintain a paper-based approach?
According to Turner, “The professionals who aren’t using technology are really going to be left behind, and you can already see it happening.”
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