Construction companies said to be ‘behind the curve’ with technology

New research has found that the construction industry is struggling to take advantage of the full benefits of technological advancements such as advanced data and analytics, mobile telephony, automation and robotics, despite substantial investment.

A mere eight per cent of construction companies have been ranked as “cutting edge technology visionaries” while 64% of contractors and 73% of project owners rank as “industry followers” or “behind the curve” when it comes to technology.

The findings come from KPMG International’s report Building a technology advantage – Global Construction Survey 2016, which surveyed 200-plus senior construction executives.

Richard Threlfall, UK head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG, commented: “The survey responses reflect the industry’s innate conservatism towards technologies, with most businesses content to follow, rather than lead. Many lack a clear technology strategy, and either adopt it in a piecemeal fashion, or not at all.”

According to the survey, engineering and construction firms, and project owners, are not taking full advantage of the volumes of data at their fingertips. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed don’t use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring.

Moreover, only a quarter of respondents say they’re able to ‘push one button’ to get all their project information. Even fewer claim to have a single, integrated project management information system across the enterprise.

Mr Threlfal added: “Integrated, real-time project reporting is still a myth, rather than a reality for most. That’s largely because firms tend to use multiple software platforms that are manually monitored and disconnected, which severely compromises their effectiveness. 

“Harnessing the true potential of technology requires construction companies and project owners to get clearer about their technology vision and strategy. The rapidly evolving infrastructure challenges of the next decade demands both owners and engineering and construction firms embrace technology more strategically and at a far more rapid pace than in the past.”