“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”, president Kennedy once said. Exactly how important is innovation? Ask Blockbuster if they saw Netflix coming. The market will always be looking for something new. Be the one who offers it or your competitor might. Did Kodak fail because they were too late to innovate? They actually invented the digital camera but failed to market the new technology out of fear of cannibalizing their existing product. Reinventing yourself as a company sometimes means being brave enough to let go of the status quo. If your core-product no longer fits the market needs, innovate until it does.
Another great example of failing to innovate fast enough is BlackBerry. Their iconic keyboard became a status symbol for business professionals. Everything you need from a computer in a device that fits the palm of your hand. They were one of the first telecom companies to see the importance of direct messaging. BlackBerry BBM messaging was a feature that made the smartphone attractive for consumers beyond their core target audience of business professionals. Yet, the Canadian telecom company dropped the ball along the line. They innovated too slowly which gave Apple’s iPhone, with its yearly new releases, the opportunity to take over the market.
Constant innovation is key in this fast-paced business world. There is no safe-zone, no matter how rock-solid your company or product is. You have to be four steps ahead of the game if you’re in it to win it.
The construction industry is a notoriously late adopter. It took the construction sector a while to embrace digital technology, but slowly companies are starting to see the benefits over the threats. Gradual steps towards digitization were made such as automatic shutdown for idling vehicles. Overload warning devices for machines, for example, have become the market standard. But are we doing enough to stay on top of technological developments? Have we maximized the potential benefits of technology, AI, IOT for the future of the industry? We need to look beyond the obvious and the basics of technological advancements. If we do not stay in the driver’s seat, technology will pass us by.
Let innovation close the gap
Digital solutions have all contributed to important progress in terms of environmental friendliness and safety, but what about increasing productivity? Take surveying. Traditionally, workers would walk around a construction site avoiding all hazards as best as they can while they measure up the site. Newer methods combine GPS-technology, drones and computer software to accurately measure any sized sites. Not only does digital surveying mean more time-efficiency – it takes about half an hour as opposed to an entire day – it also helps keep workers out of harm’s way. Safely on the side lines letting technology do the dirty work while they analyse the data and push the project forward.
This is but the tip of the iceberg. Using data more consistently will help increase productivity and profitability. Technology can close many of the gaps and pitfalls of the construction sector. A typical job site has the feet on the ground and the minds behind the computers in the office. A connected job site ensures everyone has real-time information on the progress of the job site. AI cameras recognize workers and machines enabling safety or threat notifications to be sent and resolved immediately.
Having a remote oversight off your machines on the job isn’t something new. Kitting out machinery is something that exist for a while so this is already a great deal when we look to achieved digitalisation. But what is new is having this oversight directly visible on your construction plans. Besides checking up on fuel, hours active and who’s operating the machine it is now possible to update machines with the latest plans from any locations on planet earth. No need to spend hours in the car delivering the new plans on a USB stick.
Never stop competing …with yourself
Not a single industry or business is free from the threat of disruption. Not even Netflix can rest on its laurels; it will have to be its own constant competition. The same goes for the construction sector. Technology can make our sector safer and more ecological. It can increase productivity and profitability. As one of the largest sectors in the world economy, its tight-knit relationship with public life is undeniable. Considering the construction sector accounts for 13% of the world GDP, it is our responsibility to think about our future. It is too closely linked to the economy of the world, not to.