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Survey aims to dig deep into why construction lags in technology adoption

Angela Gismondi
Survey aims to dig deep into why construction lags in technology adoption

It’s no secret construction is lagging behind when it comes to the adoption of new technologies and processes, but a new survey is looking to find out exactly why that is.

“We really want to know why companies are not employing this technology to work smarter and not necessarily harder,” said Erich Schmidt, manager of public affairs and innovation with the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA).

“We know from our feedback from our members and from the results of other surveys, there has never been a supply chain wide survey done. Our goal here is to ultimately make construction easier, more productive and collaborative, but it’s also to better understand the reason why that adoption is not taking place.”

The State of Construction Technology survey was launched in collaboration with SMARTBUILD Construction Solutions.

“We started our innovation committee in 2019 with the intention of educating and informing and evaluating construction technology and its impact on the industry, sharing that information, the value of investing in construction technology with our membership,” said Schmidt.

“This survey was identified early on as a need to better understand the current state of construction technology so we can better advocate for and inform our members.”

The intent of the survey is to get information from a broad range of stakeholders. The questions are geared to each particular group.

“We, through the innovation committee, decided that to get the best understanding of this we should survey not just general contractors but the entire supply chain so from owners, to general contractors, consultants and subtrades, because as general contractors we work in the business of collaboration,” Schmidt said. “Being able to understand who uses technology, why there are barriers and what we can do to understand these barriers and understand what the industry actually uses, we think that will help facilitate adoption. We’ll be better able to recommend techs that work across the supply chain.”

SMARTBUILD, which provides construction management solutions, is an association partner and an innovation committee member.

“We drafted a survey and provided that to SMARTBUILD for their feedback,” said Schmidt. “They are the construction technology experts, so they were able to tailor the questions to get the information that they believe to be the most valuable for the purposes of the project and better understand what the technology needs are.”

Once the results are in, the OGCA plans to do analysis of the data received and also publish a paper outlining the findings.

“As this is an industry wide survey it’s important to us that we provide the industry and the respondents with information,” said Schmidt.

“One of our goals in the project is to communicate to owners too…to explain to them that investing in construction technology from the start of a project and running a project with technology in mind will ultimately produce the best quality design and the best quality construction, efficiency in budget and timeline.”

Zulqernain Malik, chief happiness officer of SMARTBUILD Construction Solutions, said it was important to expand the scope beyond just general contractors.

“If you take a look at all the stakeholders that are involved in the delivery of construction, if all the players are disjointed or only one is using technology, the other three fail,” Malik said.

“Success is predicated on the ability to have everyone technologically integrated. They don’t have to be connected on one platform, they just have to be doing things with technological advancements.”

Part of the problem is companies are investing thousands of dollars in fancy computers and using them as typewriters and calculators, Malik said.

“They’re investing into the tools but not harnessing the potential,” he noted.

“We want to ensure that the industry understands that computers will enable them to manage, procure, execute, track, report, document with ease while gaining insight in real time.”

He encourages everyone to take part in the survey.

“We encourage everyone that is in the spectrum of construction, whether they are a field worker or a VP or CEO of an organization, to fill out the survey because there is information tailored to the people in the field saying what kind of tools do you really want to see your company look into,” Malik said.

“A report is going to be generated and the report ultimately will be published not just for the benefit of the OGCA but for the benefit of the community. Hopefully this will help increase the level of communication and understanding that we all have a common problem and we all could benefit by fixing it.”

Fill out the survey here.

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela

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