Construction is at the heart of America, and technology in construction is not an island unto itself. It becomes embedded in every process, every structure, every portion of a business. People use cell phones every day, but no one thinks of those people as “techies.” Cell phones have simply become part of their lives.
The difficulties of technology adoption in the construction industry result from different cross-sections of people and their attitudes towards technology: interest, confidence and approval. The full range of these attitudes exists in the industry, from the enthusiasts to pragmatists to skeptics.
We all understand being impatient when working on something. Using construction technology as an example, people who are just learning may want to throw the iPad out the window. It’s partly because they haven’t had enough exposure to technology. They’ve lived their entire life doing things a certain way. Then, suddenly this tidal wave of exponential growth in technology causes them to be, in some cases, forced to use it.
Some people in a company just naturally have high interest in technology. Their attitude is important, and they need to be allowed to explore technology and experiment with its limitations. These are the visionaries, the enthusiasts that are ready to break down silos within the company. They are on the theoretical end of the spectrum, and they see what’s on the horizon: the inevitable. The doubling of processing power every 18 months is a huge driver of technology.
Some people are excited about the opportunity to innovate, make their lives easier and make the lives of people around them easier.
Confident people are excited for technology, and they are secure enough to use it. They believe it has utility. You’ve got to put people in situations where they can succeed in order for them to become confident. They need help crossing the tech barrier, because they don’t yet know what innovation is important.
They also may be nervous that they’ll break something if they try it. They may not have the competency or feel like they do. Once they are shown the different functionalities and features, it can give them that measure of security they need. They also need to be assured that they’re smarter than they think they are.
For instance, we have field experts that have been in the construction business for 40-plus years, growing in their knowledge. But they find it hard to believe they can use a mobile device to make that job easier. They can become confident using tech at some level.
Approval is basically buying into the process voluntarily. Good coaches get their players to buy in regardless of the details. If I buy into it, then I can sell it to my coworkers.
Bridging the Gap Podcast, episode 72 with guest Peyton Kringlie of LS Black “Attitudes Towards Technology”
Construction is at the dawn of another great industrial revolution. With so much tech coming on, there is a potential for construction to look and act radically more efficient in the next ten years. A lot more people are latching on to and buying into that vision to create systems of the highest and best use. It’s exciting to envision a world where the construction industry adopts operations similar to related industries, like manufacturing. Technology creates pathways for that at a much higher rate.
On episode 72 of Bridging the Gap podcast, I had an opportunity to discuss this very topic with Peyton Kringlie.