2015 IT Trends in the Construction Industry
The 2015, 4th annual, JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report was released last fall. This report was composed from the survey results of over 2,000 construction professionals. The Construction Technology Report seeks to identify common software in use, IT Departments and their budgets, mobile tech, and other emerging technology trends across the construction industry. These trends are then used to identify areas where technological change is currently occurring, predicted to occur, or in many cases is even stagnant; to provide insight on the current state of construction and its technological potential. Download a free copy of the 2015 Construction Technology Report here, and read below for a quick overview of our key findings. And be sure to look out for the 2016 report next month!
Software in Use
Since 2014, the number of construction professionals who use a manual process when sending invitations to bid has increased. This increase could be accredited to increased adoption of online file storage websites such as Dropbox™. The construction technology survey also found that 82.9% of companies still use either a manual process or spreadsheets to collect data on job sites. A small amount of companies are implementing a field data collection solution, and an even smaller amount are using BIM software.
Aside from the overwhelming high number of construction companies that use manual processes to send bids and collect data, the survey did find however, that construction professionals are implementing software in regards to estimating, as well as the project planning processes. Estimating software has the widest range of product offerings, but is still forecasted to make fundamental changes to the industry. Estimators who have fully adopted BIM have reported saving 65% of their time from counting and measuring plans through the implementation of software.
IT departments are beginning to emerge within construction firms but confusion is present in regards to how much money should be allocated to these departments as well as what members of the company should be assigned to IT roles. 60% of the CT Report survey respondents do have a dedicated IT department in their company. The larger the company size, the more likely they are to have an IT Department.
The companies that do not have a dedicated IT department reported having individuals within their company single handedly manage the IT for their company. The CT Report identified the most common employees accredited with absorbing these IT roles as “Employees, especially the tech savvy millennials, are absorbing IT functions by default, by performing support, maintenance and training to help out understaffed IT departments”.
In addition to a lack of staff dedicated to technology, budgeting was another limiting factor when implementing IT into construction companies. Out of 19 Industries, Construction dedicates the least amount of money towards technology. Shockingly, the largest percentage of those surveyed did not even know their company’s IT budget as a percentage of corporate revenue. Of those who did know the budget, less than 1% was the most common portion of profit that went towards IT. This supports the notion that the construction industry underspends cross-industry averages in regards to technology by upwards of 60% to 70%.
The number of construction professionals who viewed mobile capabilities as important has increased from 30.1% in 2014 to 45.9% in 2015. However, only about a 3% increase was seen in those who viewed mobile capabilities as very important. Of the mobile technology software that is available for use, the largest percentage of the software available is in field data collection. Stated in the #ConTechReport, “Field data collection and project management solutions are the most likely to have full mobile capabilities, while project scheduling and prequalification are the least likely.” A trend among all consumers of technology in 2015 was the expectation that every new technology they implement was to come with a mobile component. However, construction has been slow to adapt this ideal.
Of the top 20 construction mobile apps in use by the survey participants, Autodesk® led the pack with three apps in the top 20. The apps in use among construction professionals ranged from augmented reality, time tracking, document management solutions, and customer relation management. A surprising finding from the 2015 Construction Technology Report is that accounting software is more likely to be offered in mobile apps than BIM. However, this could be attributed to many project management suites integrating with accounting software.
The daily use of laptops in the construction field has increased from 63.9% in 2014 to 85.6% in 2015. The most dramatic increase is seen in the use of smartphones with a whopping 97.6% of survey respondents saying they use a smartphone daily as opposed to only 72% in 2014! This increase can be attributed to more construction companies supplying devices to employees than ever before in order to avoid data security threats.
When the Construction Technology Report survey respondents were asked how comfortable they were with new tech nearly 65% of builders stated that they were very comfortable with new technology. This is positive feedback as it illustrates that builders are becoming more comfortable and eager to experiment with emerging technology. The #ConTechReport defines emerging technology as “innovative solutions with the capability to impact and improve the construction process.” The most common emerging technology that construction professionals are experimenting with include drones with 20.7% of respondents stating they are currently experimenting with the devices. 3D scanners came in second place among those surveyed as 10.2% of companies are utilizing this emerging tech.
Common emerging technology being utilized by construction companies includes Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. However, there is a lack of construction specific augmented reality tech as stated in the #ConTechReport, “ except for SmartReality, all AR solutions used on construction projects this year, according to the survey, are “non-industry specific solutions.” There are many solutions available for builders to choose from in regards to Virtual Reality. Construction professionals can choose from an array of products ranging from the cost efficient Google Cardboard to the much more expensive Oculus.
Drones are the most widely used emerging technology construction companies are utilizing. Builders are using drones to to capture data for aerial imaging, topographical mapping, video recording and much more. Popular drones that are used throughout the industry include DJI Global’s Phantom 4, Kespry, and the Parrot. 3D Scanners are the second most widely used emerging technology. Many construction companies are utilizing 3D scanning to create models of structures within minutes without the need for blueprints or measuring tapes. Wearable devices and 3D printing are the newest entrants to the construction technology market. These technologies vary in their offerings and are expected to begin making impacts on the industry in the coming years.
Where to Begin
Whether you’re an executive with an influential voice in technology strategy, budget, and purchasing decisions or an end user requesting new construction accounting software, both ends of the spectrum can ensure that IT (or the lack thereof) is not the catalytic failure on your next project.
Stay up to date with the latest technology trends and innovations to ensure your company is healthy to compete in our increasingly tech focused world. Do not shy away from proposing new technology to your employees or even requesting new tech from your managers. Determine an IT budget and start the discussion within your departments and company to determine what tech would be beneficial and aid in distinguishing you from the competition.
Staying knowledgeable and up to date on future technologies and how such tech might benefit your company is important. Before taking the technology investment conversation to your company or manager be sure to have done the research to be able to testify on why technology would be worth the investment, how it falls into your budget, and what processes implementation would help improve. To aide in your research, the 2016 Construction Technology Report is set to be released this fall! Request a free copy of the 2016 #ConTechReport here, and be the first to see the construct tech trends of 2016!