Construction companies have traditionally lagged behind other industries in technology spending, but competitive companies are beginning to prioritize IT, data trends indicate. Long-term tracking by Gartner and JBKnowledge shows that construction companies have traditionally spent less on IT than any other major industry, with half of U.S. contractors spending less than 2 percent of their annual revenue on technology, and a third spending less than 1 percent. But as the importance of technology for staying competitive grows, construction companies are beginning to increase their IT investments, with 81 percent planning to increase their IT budgets this year, a Software Connect survey found.
One of the hottest trends in construction technology is the adoption of building information modeling software. BIM software is now used by 51 percent of construction professionals, Software Connect found. The global BIM market was worth $5.265 billion in 2017 and is expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 17.5 percent, on track to reach a value of $14.0333 billion by 2023, Mordor Intelligence projects.
BIM provides digital 2D and 3D representations of building structures and functionality and is rapidly replacing the role of traditional paper-based and CAD-based building design. BIM allows contractors to accurately determine building materials from models and to precisely measure and quantify building components. This allows contractors to improve the efficiency of the building process by reducing rework, saving time and lowering costs. BIM also helps promote compliance with government regulatory standards, which increasingly require the technology.
Another vital technology for today’s construction firm is construction project management software. Demand for construction project management services has grown to a $130 billion market, according to IBISWorld research. CPM software supports construction project management by automating common project management tasks while providing real-time communication and data insights.
Construction project management software is now used by 56 percent of small and medium-sized business construction professionals, Software Connect’s research shows. Project tracking, job costing, and project estimating are the three most popular applications of CPM software. Automating these types of tasks provides project managers with efficiency, transparency, and accountability, using big data analytics to keep projects on schedule and under budget.
With losses from construction theft now totaling as high as $1 billion annually by some estimates, technology that provides security for construction sites has become essential. One of the most popular surveillance solutions for construction companies is mobile surveillance units, which are surveillance cameras mounted on portable carts. Today’s cutting-edge mobile surveillance units use wireless technology, enabling them to be set up anywhere on a temporary or permanent basis, making them ideal for use at construction sites.
Another popular surveillance technology being adopted by construction professionals is drones. Drones can provide an aerial view of construction projects. When paired with ground-based views and motion sensors, this significantly expands the perimeter of surveillance coverage, making it easier to monitor sites that cover a large area. Nearly one in five small and medium-sized construction firms are already using drones, and this will increase to one in four by 2020, according to Software Connect’s survey.
Building information management software, construction project management software, and security technology such as mobile surveillance units and drones are three of the most important tech trends in the construction industry today. Firms that adopt these technologies are enjoying advantages in efficiency, cost management, and security, and are gaining an edge on competitors who are still lagging behind the technology curve.