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Technology is making business smarter, more efficient and innovative. In the construction industry, technology is a game changer, allowing contractors to deliver projects on time and reduce rework. Research consistently shows less than 50 percent of construction companies use technology, and that number varies with the type of construction company. Out of that 50 percent, less than 10 percent of companies consider themselves adopters of new or emerging technologies. However, with more millennials entering leadership in the industry, technology adoption may be inevitable.

Growth in construction technology during the last five years has been exponential. In construction management, collaboration and accuracy have been improved with the use of mobile devices and electronic drawings. BIM technologies create the foundation for integrated project delivery. On jobsites, drones allow the project team to perform scans of the site to compare the as-built to the design. Wearables and IoT devices have increased safety. And, everywhere, the ability to capture and analyze data is driving smarter real-time decisions.

Technology is not just about the newest tricks and toys; it’s a proven method to reduce cost throughout the total project life cycle. The World Economic Forum identifies construction as a “fragmented industry” that any amount of technological adoption can help to improve the industry significantly. Although this is true, the issue is not just the development or adoption of technology, but its implementation. <

In the past, technology was a luxury, but according to Forbes, companies are in a “do-or-die situation.” Companies that don’t adopt new technologies or are slow to act on changes in their industries will find themselves obsolete. Essentially, every company will be a technology company. Companies who want to stay relevant will need to do so with a strong technology strategy and implementation plan. And they will need executives to lead the charge.

Research from Harvard Business School and Stanford Social Innovation indicates the single biggest factor for successful inclusion of technology is having executives who champion, support and initiate efforts. Software and hardware architects and other technology officers will become key players as their roles expand to align business needs with technology. Further, executive teams will shift from business as usual to activities that make their companies more competitive.

The question is: How should construction executives implement the adoption and use of technology to their benefit? For companies engaged in the creation of technology, this means being able to stay ahead of the trend; the most successful will be those who invent the trend. For the rest of the construction industry, at each part of the life cycle, technology will have to be applicable and fully integrated into work processes.

To reap the maximum benefits from technology investment, construction executives should consider the following.

1. Clearly understand and be specific about the company’s tech needs. For instance, be able to answer the question: What problem are is the company trying to solve? Some ways to understand tech needs are to survey potential users, company leadership, stakeholders and staff.

2. Select pertinent technology based on feedback. Once feedback is received from all key players, choose the technology they recommend. This type of feedback loop will make everyone involved feel a sense of ownership in the process.

3. Create a company vision for the technology landscape. Provide the “why” of what the company planning so that everyone has a clear roadmap.

4. Identify Influencers in the company to help spread the word. Although support from company executives matters, informal leadership that influencers have is also leverage for technology adoption and implementation.

5. Cultivate “pop-up” opportunities for users to be exposed to new technology. This is a low-risk way to introduce new innovations and get people comfortable with them.

6. Reward those who suggest or bring forth new technologies as part of the company’s innovation initiatives.

7. Pilot new technologies in a controlled environment to carefully measure their efficacy. This will allow the company not only to measure impact but to demonstrate it to stakeholders.

8. Provide a mechanism for open feedback loops without reprisal. Again, if people feel that they are part of the process, there will be more buy-in. This will also lead to honest feedback about the company's innovation initiatives and technology strategy.

9. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Almost anything worthwhile or with a big return requires a bit of risk. In some cases, what feels like risk or a big investment turns out to be common sense.

10. Iterate! Technology’s rapid growth means there is a constant need to shift and pivot, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s the only way to innovate.


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