Technology was vastly different from what we have now. In just one decade, we have witnessed significant technological advancements that have revolutionized how industries function. Through evolving digital technology, businesses take proactive steps to improve productivity, reduce labor, and eliminate tedious processes and paperwork.
Until now, we have discussed industries that have benefited from digitization. Despite this, some sectors still lag in adopting digital solutions; with agriculture at the bottom of the list and the construction industry coming in second to last. However, the construction industry has minimally adopted digital technology and has yet to utilize it to its advantage fully.
Do you know? According to a report by McKinsey, the construction industry worldwide loses a staggering 2.1 trillion USD every year due to poor productivity and efficiency, leading to project delays. One of the primary reasons for this is the lack of digital technology adoption in the industry.
To know the root cause of the lack of digitization in the construction Industry let’s dig in deep.
What are the potential Gaps in adopting digital technology in the construction industry?
Gap 1: Lack of Significant Value Addition through Digital Technology
We recently held a webinar titled “Reimagine Construction Industry with Digitization,” where we discussed how technology can transform the industry. During the webinar, Ajay Hans, one of our panelists, pointed out that if workers feel that using digital platforms to streamline their workflows adds more burden to their work, they will be hesitant to use them. This is a real concern that we need to address. This is because if the technology is challenging to use or understand for non-tech-savvy workers, it does not provide any value proposition for them.
Sashi Kumar, another panelist, stated that the construction industry lacks technologies that can address the issues faced by workers on-site. If workers do not see the value and benefits of using a digital platform that makes their daily lives easier and reduces friction, they will not adopt it. Therefore, the approach should always be bottom-up, where the ground workers are satisfied before senior management.
As Sharath Kalidindi also mentioned during the webinar, top management in any industry expects transparency, easy workflows, and streamlined processes without paperwork. However, it is the user-satisfied market that survives.
Gap 2: Insufficient Awareness of On-Site Challenges Encountered by Workers
The influence of technology has impacted many industries, including construction. However, the construction industry has been slow to adopt technology because designing digital platforms for construction requires an understanding of the needs of construction professionals on-site. A one-size-fits-all approach to problem-solving is not effective for the construction industry.
If digital technology can effectively address the challenges faced by construction professionals and is user-friendly, why would anyone deny its use? This could be a challenge for managers to address and overcome to encourage technology adoption in the construction industry.
Gap 3: Unique Nature of Each Project
The uniqueness of each construction project, with its varying requirements, poses a challenge when adopting digital technology. The construction industry relies on off-the-shelf solutions but at times, the solutions must be customized to meet the specific needs of the project.
This results in significant costs and challenges in adopting digital technology for the construction industry. It is often challenging to tailor these solutions to each project’s requirements, making it an expensive endeavor that requires significant resources and expertise.
Gap 4: The Fragmented Nature of the Construction Industry
Introducing digital solutions in construction projects demands additional coordination effort, as multiple stakeholders often work in silos and follow individual processes. Additionally, the temporary nature of construction projects and the varying levels of digital readiness among stakeholders can present significant hurdles to successful adoption. These obstacles can result in a lack of enthusiasm toward implementing digital solutions, ultimately impeding the realization of technology’s potential in construction.
Lesser known solutions to fill gaps in the adoption of digital technology in the construction industry:
The construction industry has traditionally been slower in adopting digital technologies than other sectors. However, to stay competitive and improve productivity, bridging the gaps that hinder the industry’s digital transformation is crucial. Let’s explore some lesser-known solutions to the gaps effectively.
- Technology Accessibility and Usability:
It is essential to focus on user- and growth-centric design and develop intuitive, user-friendly interfaces for digital platforms. Training programs and workshops should be conducted to enhance digital literacy among workers, ensuring they feel comfortable and confident in using the technology. Simplifying workflows and providing clear instructions can also facilitate adoption. Moreover, offering ongoing support and assistance through help desks or dedicated technical support teams can address any concerns or difficulties workers and professionals face.
- Integration and Interoperability:
The industry needs standardized protocols and open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to enable seamless integration and data exchange between software and platforms. Adopting common data environments and Building Information Modeling (BIM) standards can promote collaboration and ensure smooth information flow throughout the project lifecycle. Additionally, encouraging collaboration between software developers and industry stakeholders to create interoperable solutions can help bridge the gap and enhance project efficiency and data integrity.
- On-Site Connectivity and Mobility:
Implementing robust on-site connectivity solutions such as Wi-Fi networks, mobile hotspots, or dedicated construction networks can overcome limitations. Leveraging offline capabilities in applications can enable workers to continue working and syncing data once connectivity is restored. Adopting rugged and durable mobile devices suitable for construction environments ensures seamless mobility. Furthermore, exploring emerging technologies like edge computing and leveraging local server infrastructure on construction sites can reduce reliance on constant internet connectivity.
- Cost and Return on Investment (ROI):
Educating industry stakeholders about the long-term benefits and potential cost savings that digital technologies offer is crucial. Demonstrating successful case studies and quantifying the positive impact on productivity, efficiency, and risk reduction can help justify the initial investments. Governments and industry associations can provide financial incentives, grants, or subsidies to support SMEs’ digital transformation journeys. Moreover, adopting a phased approach, starting with smaller, low-risk implementations that showcase tangible benefits, can help build confidence and generate a positive ROI over time.
- Culture and Change Management:
Establishing a culture of innovation and embracing change is vital. Companies should prioritize change management strategies that involve and empower workers throughout the digital transformation process. Clear communication, training programs, and opportunities for worker feedback can help alleviate concerns and foster a positive attitude toward technology adoption. Leadership buy-in and active support from senior management are crucial in driving cultural change. Recognizing and celebrating early adopters and success stories can inspire others and create positive organizational change.
- Digital twin technology:
Implementing digital twin technology can bridge this gap by creating a virtual replica of the physical project. By integrating real-time data from various sources, such as sensors and IoT devices, digital twins accurately represent the project’s status and performance. Construction companies can leverage this technology to identify and address potential issues, optimize workflows, and make informed decisions, ultimately improving project outcomes.
The Future of Digital Technology in Construction: Opportunities and Trends
The construction industry is ripe for digital transformation. With the growing demand for sustainability, safety, and efficiency, leveraging digital technologies can unlock significant benefits. Here are five opportunities and trends that can shape the future of digital technology adoption in the construction industry.
- Building Information Modeling (BIM) Integration:
BIM adoption will continue to grow, enabling enhanced collaboration, visualization, and data-driven decision-making throughout the project lifecycle. Integrating BIM with other technologies like IoT, AI, and cloud computing will unlock new possibilities for optimizing construction processes and improving project outcomes.
- Internet of Things (IoT) and Sensor Technology:
IoT devices and sensors will play a significant role in capturing real-time data on construction sites, enabling better monitoring of assets, equipment, and worker safety. Leveraging IoT data analytics will provide valuable insights for proactive maintenance, resource allocation, and improving overall project efficiency.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning:
AI and ML algorithms will revolutionize the construction industry by automating tasks, optimizing scheduling, and predicting project risks. AI-powered image recognition and analysis can streamline quality control and safety inspections. Machine learning algorithms can analyze historical data to generate accurate cost estimates and identify patterns for improved decision-making.
- Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR):
AR and VR technologies will enable immersive visualizations, facilitating design reviews, stakeholder collaboration, and worker training. AR-based solutions will assist on-site workers with real-time information overlays and remote assistance, improving productivity and reducing errors. VR simulations enhance project planning and enable virtual walkthroughs before physical construction begins.
- Cloud Computing and Mobile Solutions:
Cloud-based platforms and mobile applications will continue to drive connectivity and mobility in the construction industry. Real-time access to project data, collaboration tools, and document management systems will enhance communication and decision-making across dispersed teams. Cloud storage and computing power will enable scalability and data integration and facilitate seamless information exchange among project stakeholders.
We hosted a webinar with industry leaders to explore how the construction industry can embrace technology and achieve great results. Register now to gain valuable insights!
At Divami Design Labs, we specialize in design and product engineering. We are passionate about understanding the challenges construction professionals face and are determined to create digital platforms that cater to them.