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According to Gartner’s Future of Field Service, more than 50% of field service management deployments will include mobile augmented reality collaboration and knowledge sharing tools by 2025—up from less than 10% in 2019. The construction industry is no exception; in fact, remote worksites and mobile access as well as technology that improves efficiency are two key construction trends to watch in 2021.  

In a recent interview-based survey of field service leaders in a wide range of industries, Librestream, a global provider of augmented worker enterprise solutions, and Worldwide Business Research sought to understand the current state of AR and how organizations are utilizing this technology to improve business outcomes. The survey revealed leadership attitudes around AR about business needs and benefits, most important capabilities, pace of adoption, as well as challenges and expected investments. 

The study, whose participants represented companies with revenues ranging from $500 million to hundreds of billions of dollars, found that 100% of respondents are already using or planning to use augmented reality within their service operations. What’s more, the study highlighted the rapidly expanding rate of AR technology adoption within each enterprise: 56% of respondents report growing applications, and 10% stated 100% integration across their service operations. 

Not surprisingly then, investments to implement AR solutions are expected to increase as well, with 82% of leaders surveyed plan to increase AR investments by more than 20% in 2021—some by as much as 60%. While COVID-19 has certainly been a catalyst for companies to find solutions that enable business continuity amidst travel and social restrictions, as consultancy Hatch did, adoption of AR technology was already growing quickly. 

So, what outcomes are spurring this high rate of adoption and corresponding investment? Survey participants identified three top business benefits most associated with AR: technology as a selling point in third party contractor negotiations, improved technician productivity and improved ROI/cost savings. Outside of the top three, 37% of respondents identified increased worker safety as another critical benefit of AR within their organizations.  

Safety is a particularly important topic within the construction industry. The Center for Construction Research and Training reports in its 6th Edition Construction Chart Book that the industry tops all others in the number of workers killed on the job. By nature, construction sites are rife with environmental hazards such as moving objects, risks for falls and electricity, to name just a few. 

According to the same book, “most construction jobs are likely to be impacted by the aging workforce in the near future. The bump in baby boomers will result in increased retirements and skilled workers will be in high demand to replace them. It is expected that the need for occupational training and safety and health training for new workers will increase in construction in the next decade.” AR-powered remote assistance technology enables data to be captured, monitored and analyzed to identify issues before they happen, and provide workers with data-informed, just-in-time training at the site. That just-in-time training can have an immense impact on safety.

Another key area of focus for the construction industry is improved labor productivity. According to a McKinsey report, labor productivity growth in construction has averaged only 1% per year over the past 20 years, nearly three times less than the growth of the total world economy. The firm estimated that the construction industry would realize $1.6 trillion of value add if productivity caught up to the global economy. Remote expert AR technology is a key conduit to achieve this.

The most important remote assistance features, as identified by WBR survey participants, include device agnostic software that offers a similar experience across all platforms, and analytics which incorporate usage statistics, AI and machine learning algorithms. 

Additionally, the survey revealed the most challenging factors to manage when developing an AR strategy within a business. While the business benefits achieved have opened the floodgates to widespread adoption and investment, organizations must pay attention to collecting and implementing technician feedback, managing the scaling of the technology after a pilot, and change management strategies.

Increasing complexity of modern construction processes and demand for overall efficiency will continue to drive the demand for AR in the construction industry. For measurable business outcomes, WBR analysts recommend enlisting the assistance of a provider with proven ability to build adoption programs and deploy at scale. Other considerations for choosing the right provider include ensuring that the solution incorporates advanced AI, IoT and analytics in addition to core fundamentals, including low bandwidth operation and offline use. 

The free WBR report has more findings and recommendations to help contractors successfully adopt and deploy a fitting AR solution to improve business outcomes. 


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