The frustrated generation craving digitalisation in the construction industry By Benjamin Morris, Ogun COO

OPINION

It is now widely accepted that the construction industry faces a specific set of challenges. It currently hugely underperforms against the average global productivity – to the tune of $1.6B USD a year.

The construction industry lags behind others in many ways; but this seems to have protected construction from some of modernity’s “topical” winds. Influencer culture is nowhere to be seen, face-to-face meetings are highly valued, and those with physical skills are still sought after rather than replaced.

I speak with more people every week who are frustrated by the lack of digitalisation progress in construction. The same reinforcing engineer who picks up phone calls on her smart watch also manually highlights a printed rebar schedule to create call-offs. The site manager who orders his Chinese food with a thumbprint approval and three clicks in an app also studies a printed construction program on his wall which is out-of-date the moment he pulls it from the printer. Even the administrator who signs for his packages at home on a tablet struggles to find, sort and send a sea of PODs and invoices in his office.

While material suppliers offer time-saving services such as customer portals, this isn’t real progress. Those willing to adopt these digital solutions must track many different user logins and passwords just to receive delivery notes. These solutions don’t focus on solving the actual need; addressing just one part of it only helps the setbacks the industry faces.

Construction softwares are still too difficult to use, inaccessible for the first-time user, and require significant training to deliver real impact. In 2019, this is not what we deserve from our digital tools.

There is a willing and growing user base for #contech. It is about time their efforts were properly rewarded with easy-to-master tools which solve real needs. These tools need to be based on a standard of transparency, connection and communication.

The price if progress is not made? I believe we could commit a generation of forward-thinking, technologically-minded individuals to another decade of low productivity. Construction will continue to fall behind the global productivity averages. Ultimately, younger generations bred on technology may be driven from an industry unable to adapt to their digital starting points.

What are your thoughts? Will the construction industry right itself – incorporate the right technology at the right time?

Or will it continue to lag behind ineffectively?

Benjamin Morris, Ogun COO

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