February 16, 2022
By Jas Saraw, Vice President – Canada, Procore
2021 saw many challenges and changes in the construction industry – from supply chain and margin pressures through to the ongoing pressure to do more with less. We’re also continuing to see the push toward digitalization gathering pace, with an increased number of contractors operationalizing and moving toward making digital business a priority.
As this trend continues, we are going to see progress in two key areas. One is organizations placing emphasis on reducing the friction of data entry through easy-to-use software and visual capture technology. The second, and aligned to this, is a focus on the quality of data. We all know the more data you have coming in and the higher quality that data is, the better your business decision-making is going to be. This will become ever more important as construction businesses are asked to bring new data initiatives onstream, such as whole lifecycle carbon analysis and RFID. Additionally, as we see older construction professionals retiring and others moving on, data management is key. A knowledge economy can help more traditional industries develop and manage systematic approaches to work that lessen the impact of rapid turnover.
A recent research study shows that Canada’s construction industry is starting to see real signs of digital transformation. As this transformation unfolds, roles in the industry will change. What won’t change is the need for a ‘single source of truth’ that connects all stakeholders — from site to office, from exec to information management to project team level, and between owner, main contractor, electrical contractor and subcontractor. A platform approach that prioritizes a common user interface and connecting stakeholders, processes and their data is the clear route toward achieving this.
The industry has really just broken ground with technology and the years ahead will be transformative in terms of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, data science, and predictive analytics, all intertwined with the very human process of building.
According to Procore, a leading provider of construction management software, here are some trends to watch in 2022:
- Labour shortages will continue and drive change in how projects are managed: The core labour challenge will remain getting the right trade to the right job at the right time. It’s not uncommon for trades to sit for weeks at a time between projects, or for trades to be unavailable, delaying a project. Companies will feel the pressure in 2022 to have a real-time understanding of who their workers are and where they’re currently assigned.
- Hybrid work will change how office space is used: The hybrid work model will drive changes in offices, such as prioritizing more open spaces, common spaces, kitchens and places for teams to gather. There will be a need to balance the office’s role as a place for meeting your co-workers in-person and continued social distancing.
- Adaptive re-use will be key: As companies consolidate their offices, building owners will scramble for new tenants, perhaps trying to attract residential occupants. Converting unused office space or retail buildings into apartments or nursing care facilities, for example, can make the best use of space and tap into needs in the market. Key factors that determine optimal reuse in a property include location, building structure, cultural significance, sustainability and ROI.
- Commercial will be converted to residential: As companies consolidate their offices, building owners will scramble for new tenants, perhaps trying to attract residential occupants. Office space will be converted into apartments, nursing care facilities and other uses to respond to market needs. Key factors that determine optimal reuse in a property include location, building structure, cultural significance, sustainability and ROI.
- A focus on climate change: Many construction companies are in the early stages of addressing climate change; there will be more innovation in minimizing waste and streamlining production. There will be more focus on sustainability and creating buildings that will be resilient in the midst of climate change.
- Startups will address more niches in construction: For the past five years, hundreds of new construction technology startups were started to solve one of the many challenges facing the industry. There are still a large number of opportunities out there to take advantage of as we head into 2022.
- More AI, automation and drones: Construction will see core capabilities like project management innovated with new AI and automation. And as automated project tracking grows in importance, so too will technology like drones, as they provide a constant update of what has changed over time on the job site.
- More robotics and prefabrication: More companies will adopt robotics such as rebar-tying robots and practices like prefabrication in an effort to adapt to the ongoing labour shortage. Regarding prefabrication, instead of waiting months for an update on the status of building a design, companies can see where the order is and when it’s coming thanks to better visibility into the supply chain.