- A new study from FMI Corp. sponsored by Procore Technologies found that contractors are not taking advantage of existing technology that could help their businesses.
- The top concern of the 666 contractors surveyed for the 2020 FMI Industry Report was jobsite safety, although only 54% said they turned to technology to maintain it. Hiring and retaining employees was a critical issue for 57% of the survey participants, but only 25.6% of those respondents said they use technology solutions to help achieve their employment goals. In addition, 52% said maximizing productivity is important, but only 40.5% reported they were using productivity software.
- The survey also revealed a disconnect: Many of the contractors have an appreciation for how valuable data is to their firms' financial success, but they don't feel they have the ability to draw insights from the data. Additionally, 65% said their firms did not have a "stated point of view" about technology and 70% noted that their companies did not have a technology roadmap.
There are four things that have happened during the last five years that have driven an uptick in technology adoption by contractors, said Jay Snyder, technology and innovation practice leader at FMI, listed as follows.
- The availability of more software as a service (SaaS) offerings. With SaaS solutions, contractors typically have better access to customer service and can scale the product to meet their needs.
- Software is being developed for mobile devices rather than just desktops and laptops.
- Connectivity at jobsites has improved, although Snyder said that it is sometimes still a struggle as construction crews are often on the job before the necessary infrastructure can be set up.
- Millennial workers expect their work technology to act as efficiently as their home technology does.
Yet, as this latest study indicates, contractors aren't using the technology that is available to them.
One reason, said Snyder, is that tech companies don't always place the benefits to the end user above the excitement of introducing a new solution. "It all goes back to what supports the strategic initiative of the contractor," he said.
In addition, Snyder said there is a "proliferation" of point solutions, each one addressing a different issue. The problem with that, he said, is that many contractors don't have the in-house staff to properly deploy and integrate them.
So, how does the industry begin to move that needle in the other direction?
Tech companies, Snyder said, need to take initiative, start having substantive conversations with contractors and prove that their solutions work through pilot projects. Many contractors, he said, don't have someone scouting for the best tech because tech adoption can be disruptive to their operations and too expensive.
If tech companies are waiting for construction firms to invest in teams of tech experts, Snyder said, industry-wide digital transformation is going to take a very long time.
"Contractors rely on trusted companies in the tech industry to lead through [providing] viable, reliable solutions," he said.