From bricks to clicks: The digital transformation of construction businesses
Once seen as the industry slowest on the uptake when it comes to digitization, the construction industry has been steadily transforming the way it operates to make the most of the newer technologies for better results.
89% of construction companies say their adoption of technology will change the way they do business. This has been a major motivator in their foray into digitization as it allows them to try out new things and see how they optimize the way they operate.
In this article, we discuss the various ways construction businesses have transformed themselves to blend modern technology into their historically traditional industry seamlessly and how you can make the most of digitization to improve your operations as well.
Let’s dive in.
1. Personalized web stores
One of the most palpable ways the transformation of the construction industry can be measured is by the rise of web stores. With e-commerce for building materials and construction services, companies are able to connect with their audiences better than ever before by showcasing their business and produce online.
They don’t have to rely on brick-and-mortar stores that would only attract clientele from their limited region. Now they’re able to attract a wider target audience even though construction remains a physical and geography-bound business.
Here are the stunning features a personalized web store offers to help you serve your clients better while showcasing your business:
- Personalization — Customers can choose construction materials as per their needs and receive specific pricing. They get access to their order history, assortments, and shipping addresses.
- Grouping of similar products — Building materials that are alternatives or complementary in nature can be grouped together to help customers find what they are looking for with ease. Doing this also gives you an opportunity to upsell.
- Customization — customers can customize their experience with your web store by adding profile photos and personal information such as their phone number and address. You can use their order history and preferences to send them tailored messages about discounts and offers that suit them.
- Reordering ease — Customers can fill their current orders with previous orders in part or full. They can also use the previous order’s template that might have custom specifications to fill their current order quickly.
- Order tracking — Real-time ERP integration sends continuous updates about their orders to the customers, eliminating delays, miscommunication, and errors related to orders.
- Order from the location of ease — Show customers products based on their location. This makes the catalog easier to navigate as the products that will not be available to them will simply not be shown to them.
The cloud software of the e-commerce platform integrates with ease with your ERP and tech stack. You may even use SAP or Microsoft Dynamics ERP for convenience. This helps you update your store in real-time about the availability of the stocks and avoid errors.
Personalized web stores have emerged as an excellent way for construction businesses to establish their presence as well as connect with their audiences in authentic ways. It’s not only taking their business forward but helping them flourish with both online and offline ways of doing business at their disposal.
2. Improved safety measures
Safety has been a major concern for all industries but it’s especially concerning for the construction industry as its entire business happens on location.
The cost of injuries on construction sites is over $11 billion in the US each year.
By embracing technology, construction companies are able to implement improved safety measures. They are now able to create building materials that are safer to use and provide longevity. It boosts the safety of the structures created with those materials.
Similarly, companies are now equipped with data that helps them identify lapses in their safety measures and improve on them promptly. They have been able to achieve this through four different elements:
- Installing sensor devices — Devices are installed all around the construction space as well as on the workers’ person that detect unsafe working conditions and alert them immediately. They may detect harmful gasses or unstable surfaces to send out alerts to workers and supervisors.
- Creating safer materials with big data — Companies collect data about the materials they create to test how safe they are in certain situations. Having a vast pool of data helps companies build safe materials as they can perform various tests on them and make data-backed decisions.
- Supervising through drones — AI-powered drones are used by construction companies to supervise the premises for potential hazards. They conduct surveillance of the area and identify anything that might be out of the ordinary such as an unstable roof to instantly send out alerts.
- Imparting agile training — Employees are trained in safety protocols with the use of technologically advanced tools. Virtual reality is used to recreate certain situations or teach employees to use complicated pieces of machinery in a controlled environment.
3. Better client coordination
No industry has been left untouched by the pandemic and every business — big or small — has worked to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. Most construction companies have been hit by the pandemic during their transformation to digitization.
This meant they were better prepared to include it in their plans going forward. 34% of the construction companies even anticipated that they’d have to increase their spending on technology coming out on the other side of the pandemic.
This included a heavy use of communication tools to improve communication with clients, associates, and employees. Combining these with virtual reality and augmented reality helps clients visualize the structure they’re creating.
You can create complete projects with your clients with these advanced technological tools without having to meet up or be at the construction site. This saves you time, resources, and avoids safety mishaps.
Moreover, you can use the digitally created structure to check in from time to time as you construct the structure in reality. This helps you see if you are going according to the plan or not, allowing you to course-correct on the go.
4. Luring a better workforce
One of the biggest challenges the construction industry faces is having a tech-savvy workforce. This is because:
- The oldest workers are retiring.
- The younger people are reluctant as they pursue higher education to get in-office jobs rather than skilled trade jobs.
- This leaves middle-aged workers who are simply averse to change.
By introducing technological processes, construction companies are able to lure skilled workers from the newer generation. They would be more interested in a job where they do not have to perform laborious tasks, but rather manage them with technological tools.
It makes the job interesting to them while helping you acquire a skilled and diverse workforce. They can also help teach the remaining workers from a different generation.
5. Streamlining processes
Technology offers a way to replace analog processes that have been dominant in the construction industry for the longest time with tech-savvy options. Here’s how companies have been conducting the overhaul and you can do it too:
- Conduct a thorough survey of their work processes to identify outdated methodologies.
- Separate the processes into three categories: analog, semi-digital, and fully digital.
- As the name suggests, the three types of processes require wearing levels of technological upgrades. Acquire the needed upgrades and install them.
- Create new working processes that take into account the use of newer methods and document them for ease of future use.
- Train your workforce to adapt to the new methods.
Adopting this approach has helped construction companies increase productivity and decrease costs. The above-mentioned points about creating safer building materials and training the workforce and safety protocols have played a role in this overhaul.
6. Eco-friendly methods
The Paris Agreement calls for energy consumption per square meter for all buildings to be reduced by 30% by 2030. The construction industry is under pressure from governments and environmentally conscious authorities to reduce its environmental impact.
Technology has been helping the industry in creating eco-friendly methods. They are consciously working to reduce different kinds of waste such as water and energy. They are also working to improve the air and water quality in their construction spaces.
Using processes such as 3D printing and modular building helps improve their efficiency while reducing the use of the material and energy that is usually consumed in these processes. They use eco-friendly building materials.
Adopting eco-friendly methods works both ways to help them protect the environment while improving their efficiency for better results.
The construction industry focuses on improving efficiency and reducing wastage in its digital transformation
As the construction industry takes big steps toward complete digitization, it’s important to note that it has been doing it by focusing on the right elements of operations.
It has focussed on digitizing analog processes to increase productivity and reduce the wastage of resources. Doing so has helped it attract skilled workers. Companies are now creating their personalized stores to serve customers better.
The focus on security helps it deploy robust protocols. Improved client communication leads to better collaborations and improved final results.
Let us know in the comments how you think the construction industry has been able to adapt to digitization.
Atreyee Chowdhury is a professional content and copy writer with more than 10+ years of experience. She’s passionate about helping SMBs and enterprises achieve their content marketing goals with her carefully crafted and compelling content. She loves to read, travel, and experiment with different cuisines in her free time. You can follow her on LinkedIn.