Innovation, digitalization and the future of the construction industry

October 16, 2019 Taru Laurila safety, digitalization, quality, construction

Construction industry is among one of the least digitalized industries, just ahead of agriculture and hunting, reveals McKinsey. Despite the nature of the complexity in the industry, many challenges in safety, quality, profitability and productivity, can be improved when using right construction technologies. 

Delivering zero-defect buildings is not a myth, no matter how complex the project is. With the right process, people and technology, you can monitor, analyze and understand what’s really happening at your construction site and have more opportunities to react when needed. You will know exactly what has been built and how.  

According to Raconteur, barriers in the construction industry to adopting new technologies are; lack of staff to support the technology, budget, employee and management hesitance and lack of knowledge about new tech available. Culture plays a significant role in adopting new technologies. By creating a culture embracing safety and quality issues, people will understand their role within the process whether they’re site managers, construction workers or project managers. They will know, that both quality and safety are everyone’s responsibilities, when they understand how their everyday work and role is evolving and changing in accordance with the big picture and performance. By training people towards a new working culture and methods, adopting new technologies will also be easier. Training and educating people will definitely increase their knowledge of the new technology opportunities but ultimately culture will be a page turner of encouraging people towards collaboration, trust and commitment. A result of the culture of trust and transparency embraced by technology is to work together smoothly and collaboratively without silos.

In this blog post, I will go through aspects regarding the relationship between innovation, digitalization and the future of the construction industry.

Innovation drives evolution and revolution of the industry

When discussing construction innovations, technology plays a leading role in forming the industry to be future-ready. Together with talented people, the industry will have opportunities to move forward.

A report from Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) explains that technology has potential to disrupt all parts of the construction industry.

The report highlights scenarios for the industry workforce now and in 2030 as following:

  1. Over a five year span the likelihood of technology adoption will evolve when innovation and technology become part of the process, for instance on technology feasibility, competition, management, standards of technology, R&D investments and demand for new approaches
  2. In 20 years, it’s time for the construction industry disruption including radical projections of automation and technology adoption

New approaches, for instance construction technologies, are meant to make peoples’ work life smarter – not to make them obsolete for the industry. Every person within construction should have an opportunity to learn, develop and make decisions based on real events.

Innovation will drive evolution and revolution of the industry, but only if there is willingness and urgency to change and develop processes and best practices to meet future standards. While evolution stands generally for development over a certain period, revolution is a long-term path considerate as radical change.

If urgency towards digitalization remains the same – realistically speaking, when will industry revolution take place? Will it gradually develop over time?

The urgency towards digitalization

Digitalization is a game changer to increase effectivity also on an operational level. Oliver Wyman, a global management consultant states in their report Digitalization of the construction industry – the revolution is underway the following “industry players are still confused and hesitant about the change and new technologies.” The report explains that digitalization offers various ways to decrease costs and delays, increase safety and minimize the environmental impact with everything from interactive work processes to connecting machines, equipment and workers to industrial models. If there is no urgency within the industry digital disruption won’t happen.

The urgency towards digitalization must come from the people:

  1. Analyzing pros and cons of change is a good way to start.
  2. Also compering how current methods support the vision for tomorrow.
  3. Involve your organization to change and value sharing – no silos
  4. Make the decision how to make your actions a reality
  5. Choose a partner that offers more than a technological solution 

The future of the industry

Major industry drivers, for example digitalization, urbanization and sustainability are designing the future of the construction industry landscape, together with demographic changes within the workforce. 

The entire industry needs urgency to connect people with the right process, data and technology, to work better together and increase productivity and profitability.  As technology and digitalization are truly game changers and not just nice-to-haves for the industry, new ways of thinking needs to be developed – from hiring people to deliver projects with the highest possible safety and quality standards. If the industry remains among the least digitalized in the future as well, how will it be seen by the new generations workforce? There is now, more than ever, a demand for forerunners, early adopters and digitally minded people to change the course of the industry towards new ways of working and future-readiness. As a matter of fact millennials are already half of the workforce today and is expected to be closer to 75% by 2030. Attracting new generations towards the industry is a must-win battle for everyone in the industry.

Construction innovation, digitalization and the future of the industry are depending on talented people willing to push the industry forward. By attracting the right talent, construction industry must change its mindset towards a quality and safety culture. Without a quality and safety culture there is no trust. Without trust there is no commitment or professional pride. 

If you are seeking a partner to improve quality and safety management, take the next step with us.