Technology – Construction just doesn’t get IT

Technology Old School EF Blog

In the last 30 years the world has undergone a massive transformation thanks to technology. Whereas in the 80’s computers were deemed a rare luxury that few people owned, now everyone uses not just computers but mobile phones to communicate on email, instant messenger and manage projects around the globe. Most people cannot imagine life without technology. And in a business world where things are rapidly evolving, technology is the key to keeping up.

Yet the construction industry seems to be lagging behind. They’re still building with blocks while everyone else is using data. For all the technology advances available, few are being embraced by the construction industry. It seems once again old school thought prevails, what is it going to take to change this?

Related article: The Great Divide – Why is there such a large tech implementation gap?

Technology as an investment

Let’s face it, most main contractors don’t have much cash to spare currently to spend on ad hoc projects so their hesitation might be forgiven. Might, if it had sound reasoning behind it, but it doesn’t. They seem to only be looking at the cost and the risk without fully understanding the benefits.

Construction firms seem to think that they need to invest in their own technology and then guard it as a competitive advantage. However, there are many open source platforms that have been tried and tested and could simply be adapted to a specific purpose. This requires less investment, less testing and will result in quicker implementation.

What’s holding back technology?

Industry surveys reveal that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the adoption of technology is in fact people, and their belief that if they let technology in, they’ll be booted out of their job and machines will take over. This fear is an extreme view, because technology cannot operate without people in most applications and the benefits it offers includes ways to support people in their jobs and help them achieve outcomes in a way that is safer, faster and more cost effective.

But it seems the biggest stranglehold on technology is the traditional way in which the construction industry operates.  The way projects are costed and managed, as well as how outcomes are measured doesn’t allow for innovations or simpler, better ways of doing things with technology. For example: there is little thought to reusing designs and adapting them to a specific site to save time and resources.

If technology is to make an impact in construction, the industry needs to change its way of operating and be more open to innovation. Maybe then it will start to see the turnaround it so badly needs.

Related article: What skills are needed to drive digital transformation in construction?