Tight Tech Budgets Stifle Construction Industry

Recent report says reduced tech funding has led to a host of issues, including lack of industry innovation 

By By Michael Chamernik, Associate Editor | February 9, 2016
A recent study by KB Knowledge indicates that tight tech budgets are affecting the construction industry

According to “The 4th Annual Con­struction Tech­no­logy Report,” undersized technology budgets are affecting the construction industry. Published by JBKnow­ledge, a firm that develops technology solutions for the construction, risk management, and insurance industries, with input from two Texas A&M construction science faculty members, Ben Bigelow and James Benham, the report says that the reduced funding has led to a host of issues, including lack of industry innovation and poor cloud security.

The survey reveals how well builders integrate data across construction software, which software products they use, and how they are adapting to new technology such as drones, 3-D scanners and printers, and augmented reality devices.

One theme uncovered by the report is understaffing. A little more than 63 percent of construction companies have an IT staff of five employees or fewer, in part because existing employees are absorbing IT functions as part of their current jobs. The report also found that 67 percent of companies lack an R&D department.

But the research results are not all bleak. There are companies already taking strides. “Some progressive companies are looking into drones, virtual reality, 3-D scanning, and more,” Benham said in a statement. “A minority of companies are actually investing in R&D departments and have turned their technology departments into revenue generators.”

Along with raising budgets, the report recommends that builders stop using spreadsheets and start integrating technology-based research into their work culture. The survey, which consisted of responses from 2,044 construction professionals who manage risk, projects, and building information modeling, can be a useful resource for students who are assuming leadership roles.

“As the industry adopts new technology and learns the advantages it can provide, students increasingly need to have an understanding of and exposure to these tools to be prepared to contribute when they go to work,” Bigelow said in a statement. “Our department’s involvement in the survey helps us know what technology students need to learn.”


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