Digitizing Construction

Perhaps you think of the construction industry as being more analog and less interested in building a robust digital infrastructure. This article talks about one large company that is modernizing, and has accelerated that move during the pandemic. They are generating lots of data with drones capturing images of projects and and with more collaboration between many different groups that are often not physically co-located together. While their business is construction, they are really a large enterprise that faces many of the same challenges any enterprise faces with moving information around, in a secure and convenient way for their staff.

However, even smaller companies are depending more and more on a modern infrastructure. I had a contractor renovate my bathroom recently, and while there certainly is some in-person work, plenty of the planning, payment, supply chain, and more comes from the use of digital technologies. Even a 55 year old contractor is embracing new ways of doing business.

This isn’t just in new construction. Many repair companies around the US are consolidating and joining into groups, with better guarantees for their work, but also more precise scheduling, bidding, smoother (and quicker) payments, and even the sharing of designs and problems through images, reducing the number of physical trips that staff makes, and giving a better experience to the customer. This does come at a charge, often with a higher cost for projects, but I find that I can count on many of these services more than I could with random handy people and contractors in the past.

Construction will always be a hands-on job for some.  After all, plumbers need to go where the pipes are located. The workers and their companies are taking advantage of more technology and innovations to make their jobs easier. We use new materials, new techniques, and products that make the construction of physical spaces, and the deconstruction, quicker and easier than in the past. In many cases, we often get a superior product, though there is often more cost.

There are also problems. Any time someone is building something, there is a chance they make an error, or a physical part fails, or the supply chain doesn’t keep up. It does seem that I tend to find fewer of these issues than in the past. When I do, often an organization will fix a problem and stand behind their work. If they don’t, the one part of the digital world that definitely affects construction is the sharing of information by customers. Bad ratings, complaints, and more are common, and can often affect business for contractors quite a bit. Positive ratings can result in more work than an individual can handle.

Maybe that’s the part I like the best, that the digital connections we have online allow us to share feedback and images of workmanship. At least in my area, that’s led to some good outcomes.

Steve Jones

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