The construction industry is ripe for change. Transforming business to accommodate that change is a marathon, not a sprint – it’s a career commitment.

Fortunately, the rewards are big. Everyone is touched by the built environment, and in the long run we’re making the world a better place.

Digital transformation in the construction industry is slow because the interworkings are complicated. As just one example, consider contracting.

We already have tried and true methods. They may not be efficient, but we know they work. So as an industry, at least we’ve had something that works for us, and projects continue to get built. Companies don’t want to take risks, and that may be the root cause of resisting change. When we can see the risks as lower than the rewards, then we’ll see tech adoption on the uptick.

The “old way” of design-bid-build is a slow decline and gradually being replaced by design-build. Collaboration and prefabrication are also here to stay. There are now factors and trends leading to significant changes in construction. They range from attracting talent to an aging workforce and safety issues. Another old technology is Excel – there are billion-dollar contractors who are still using it as the data backbone of their business.

Even in today’s business climate, companies that are adaptable are holding their own or growing. You can’t become irrelevant and remain in business.

Companies are increasingly in pursuit mode. But in order to win work, you have to be lean and efficient. One key to winning projects is by having data at your fingertips.

Many managers understand that their companies are being disrupted, and they are savvy enough to admit that they might as well roll with it and implement something that could benefit their company in the long run. Being intentional and getting employees to embrace an innovative growth mindset are ingredients in the recipe for success.

Owners want real-time info. That owner pressure could be moving the industry forward in the right direction.

After the 2008 recession, owners began to ask for more than the cost of a project; they wanted assurance that the cost was accurate. Since financing was more difficult to obtain, companies had to become more competitive. Data is part of that competitive formula.

Construction is a milestone driven industry that creates a lot of data. Historically companies haven’t done much, if anything, with that data. Those days are gone. It’s time to collect the data that goes into the milestones and calculate how the company performed against the estimate, not simply the financial bottom line, but the labor, schedule and everything else around the job.

Historically, the data captured by technology tools has been proprietary. But the cloud computing movement and open data architecture are moving us away from that.

By leveraging big data, we can develop more certainty around the schedule and cost. If we get involved in the project earlier, we can take part in the discussion about not only completing it on time and within budget but building it better.

In episode 58 of the Bridging the Gap Podcast, I had a conversation with Stewart Carroll of Beck Technology about how to fully leverage the vast amount of data a construction project captures. Listen to “What’s in the Data?” today. 

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