Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

Building What’s Next: Preparing for the Next Decade of Construction

IMG_4869_eric_tucker 400x600It’s hard to imagine what construction will look like in the next 10 years. The pace of innovation is moving faster than ever. There are thousands of solutions entering construction and changing the way we build.

Looking towards the future of construction, there are two increasingly vital areas of focus: data and inclusion. For long-term success, it is important that construction workers, associations, and tech companies work together to build awareness around the opportunity that data and inclusion hold.

We are producing new data faster than ever before, so we have more evidence to rely on for informed decision-making. Companies that support the development of an inclusive workplace culture that empowers, supports, and appreciates each individual for their unique backgrounds and perspectives will reap the benefits.

Integrating the use of data and supporting an inclusive workplace won’t happen overnight, but bridging the gap between transformative periods of change through education is a great place to start.

Construction companies that look toward the future as an opportunity to grow alongside change will best be prepared for what’s next. Angie Simon, CEO of Western Allied Mechanical and Bay Area SMACNA Board Member, said it best, “Learn something new every day and don’t be afraid of change.”

Data Helps Us Predict the Future
According to a February 2020 report by the Association of General Contractors (AGC), large infrastructure projects require an average of 130 million emails, 55 million documents, and 12 million workflows. And yet, 13 percent of construction teams’ working hours are spent looking for this project data. As a result, more than 95 percent of the data collected in the construction process goes unused.

Hand_technology 1641602149 600x328The industry is creating a lot of data that can be used as a competitive advantage, but it’s not anywhere near being used to its full extent. Every material, every man hour, and every job site can be improved through data.

Using data is a prime example of the power technology holds as a catalyst for profit-critical efficiencies and real-time insights. It can be difficult to know where to start.

With a distributed workforce facing new challenges when it comes to upskilling their teams, on-demand, certifiable, industry training is more crucial than ever before. Continuing education is just one of the many ways for the industry to prepare for what’s next.

Procore offers a free continued education course titled Data in Construction. The five-part series delves into why data is so important to construction personnel and project success, and identifies how data can help make jobs better, safer, and easier to predict.

With a knowledge of data comes the comfort to explore what’s next and embrace what’s possible. Tools like predictive AI translate to advantages in the field, immersive and assisted job sites are conceivable, and with this change, come new roles and responsibilities in construction, like data managers and analysts. Construction is evolving not just in the way we build, but in the roles themselves.

Inclusion Gives Everyone a Seat at the Table   
Data will only be one half of the future of construction. The other piece will be inclusion. To solve the complex construction challenges of the future, you need more than a different perspective — you need a lot of them. When you invest in inclusion, you can expect more profits and more teamwork.

Companies that have an inclusive culture have greater creativity, innovation, and talent because employees feel valued, included, and as a result, more engaged and productive. The great opportunity is not only taking advantage of education on data, but also expanding construction’s capacity as a leader in workforce
equality.

According to the AGC Inclusion & Diversity Council, people who identify as “white” will comprise less than half of the U.S. population under 30 years of age by 2030. Currently, 63 percent of the construction industry is white.

Furthermore, 55 percent of the U.S. population and 47 percent all workers are female, and are poised to universally disrupt the traditional equity bases. Women made up 2.7 percent of the workers in construction trades and only 9.1 percent of the workers in the entire U.S. construction industry in 2017.

More inclusion is needed in construction to ensure that smart decisions are being made, and diversity is needed to ensure  we unlock the value of our teams and our workforce. Companies need to be both diverse and inclusive to be competitive and successful in the 21st century.

Eric Tucker leads technology partnerships for specialty contractors at Procore. He can be reached at eric.tucker@procore.com.

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