Paraphrasing from a 2017 VentureBeat article on intellect versus intelligence, the nature of business is that anything that can save a business money will be put to use. In addition, any task that can be broken into sets of instructions can be done by a machine, and machines are becoming exponentially more capable of manipulating intellectual and physical property. Therefore, anything that can be broken into sets of instructions and can save businesses money (with no value lost) will be automated. Enter artificial intelligence (AI).
AI is considered by many to be the biggest opportunity ahead for construction businesses. It is the next logical step in industrialization for the industry.
We are seeing a trend toward more and more AI-enabled services and innovations being offered by companies. As general contractors adopt a workflow that uses AI, they are looking to third parties to do the upfront investigation and management of AI work.
Through the use of AI, construction companies can deliver a better product. As anyone who has used Chat GPT can attest, AI helps generate quick ideas and comes up with more personalized results. It helps make jobs more efficient. Although some companies feel using AI is a risk, the true risk is in not using AI and losing one’s competitive edge.
Contrary to the trending thoughts that AI will replace blue collar workers, AI is more likely to replace white collar jobs in the short term. Machinery, which is usually expensive, is what tends to replace blue collar workers.
In construction, companies build something, then they get paid for it. Unfortunately, too many are experts at building something but not experts at getting paid for it. Often, contract handling is the problem.
Since AI can process anything with a set of instructions, one area where it can be particularly useful is in contract review. AI can generate a list of potential risks in a contract. It can identify clauses with multiple interpretations. It can also compare a contract against similar contracts, with suggestions for changes and improvements.
AI is one way to get educated about contracts and the ramifications of contract provisions. As they say, the devil’s in the details.
There is a misconception by some in the industry that contract negotiation is looked down upon. Some companies think negotiating will make them look bad. However, if you choose to negotiate, it gives the customer confidence that you know what you’re doing. Customers provide a contract with the expectation that you will negotiate. If you don’t, that can work against you, because it is through negotiation that you reduce your risk. If you try to negotiate on a contract in the middle of a project, that’s when you can develop the reputation of being difficult to work with.
If you stay on top of the details throughout a project, doing the paperwork and following the contract provisions, it reduces your risk and contributes to a good ending.
Tune in to Bridging the Gap podcast episode 180 and learn what advice Cian Brennen has on contract negotiation and the use of AI.