October 14, 2016 by Corinne Lynds
Maybe it’s your brother, your mom, or even your weird-old-Uncle Charlie. And it doesn’t matter if you live in Vancouver, Toronto or Labrador – every family has its own technophobe.
You know the person I’m talking about. They’re still using a fax machine, and maybe just recently got a cell phone, of which you are being butt-dialed on regularly. They insist these newfangled devices are a waste of time, and “doing things the old way is better.”
Well, I hate to say it, but the construction industry is in danger of becoming the world’s weird-old-Uncle Charlie.
According to a recent report by KPMG, despite substantial investments, the construction sector is struggling to gain the full benefits of technologies, including advanced data and analytics, mobility, automation, and robotics.
Of the more than 200 senior construction executives that took part in this survey, a mere 8 per cent of their companies rank as “cutting edge technology visionaries,” while 64 per cent of contractors and 73 per cent of project owners rank as “industry followers” or “behind the curve” when it comes to technology.
“The survey responses reflect the industry’s innate conservatism towards technologies, with most firms content to follow rather than lead,” says Geno Armstrong, international sector leader, engineering and construction with KPMG in the U.S. “Many lack a clear technology strategy, and either adopt it in a piecemeal fashion, or not at all.”
Okay, so Canada, might not be quite as bad as our sweet, and loveable uncle, but we’re not making the most of our technology investments either. According to the survey, construction and engineering firms are not taking full advantage of the volumes of data at their fingertips. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed don’t use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring. Also, only 25 per cent of respondents say they’re able to “push one button” to get all their project information. And even fewer claim to have a single, integrated project management information system (PMIS) across the enterprise.
With so much investment and emphasis being placed on large-scale infrastructure in Canada, projects are becoming bigger and more complex all the time. Innovations such as remote monitoring, automation and visualization have enormous potential to speed up project progress, improve accuracy and safety.
“The rapidly evolving infrastructure challenges of the next decade demands both owners and engineering and construction firms embrace technology more strategically and at a far more rapid pace than in the past,” warns Armstrong.
This is all well and good, but for most contractors, the question is how? In many instances they already have multiple software platforms in place that aren’t integrated, and the last thing they want to do is add another one to the mix.
The answer is: do your research. Go to conferences, talk to your peers, visit with vendors. Information is power, and in order to harness the true potential of technology, contractors must come up with a strategy and act now.
Corinne Lynds / Editor