New digital technologies and tools will significantly enhance the competitiveness and success of small and midsize construction businesses in the future.
Even with a booming construction market, the market has been faced with unique challenges and has been forced to adapt rapidly to a variety of sudden changes brought on by the pandemic. Among these challenges are global supply chain issues and a glaring shortage of skilled labor.
These hardships are being overcome by the help of technology, which can do everything from automated billing and streamlined business functions to accelerating the design process with 5G to bring diagrams and blueprints to ‘life’ through augmented and virtual reality technology.
At the small and midsize business levels, a big driver of this future success is being fueled by the widespread adoption of new digital tools and technologies that not only enhance customer experience but create new business opportunities. Technology is being used by construction businesses to recruit skilled labor and enhance the customer experience.
For example, the iStrada fleet management software and solution is being used to manage a concrete production company’s fleet of vehicles and assets. Producers are also using automation to electronically streamline their workflow for batching, job dispatch routing, and more.
A recent survey revealed that nearly two in three decision makers (63%) at a variety of small and midsize businesses across the country said they have gone digital in 2021. That’s a 10% increase from the prior year. In addition, the survey showed rapid technology adoption growth since August 2020, with more small and midsized businesses having purchased and implemented high-capacity internet (52% vs. 27% in the previous survey) to help compensate for a shortage of workers.
Many construction companies have already adopted some form of technology to streamline their daily processes, but the majority are employing it for the digital design phase and project management tasks of their businesses, including everything from 3D printing to digital collaboration tools.
There are still opportunities to use this technology to connect with highly skilled laborers so that construction projects stay on schedule. To keep up with demand, the Associated Builders and Contractors estimates construction businesses will need to hire 430,000 workers this year and 1 million more over the next two years.
New AI applications can also optimize scheduling through algorithms, allowing employers to determine how large a team they need at different points to maximize efficiency.
In the last few years, technology has helped businesses of every vertical evolve and scale their operations. However, things like remote working and a shift to digital operations have posed significant security risks for employees who are not yet knowledgeable about good cyber hygiene practices. This is in line with the 14th annual Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), a review of 29,207 security incidents, with 5,258 being confirmed breaches from 83 sources worldwide. The number of breaches analyzed increased by 33% compared to 2020.
Malware, hacking, and user errors can be leveraged by bad actors to compromise a network, which highlights the importance of having security embedded across the organization. As more employees are working outside of the corporate network, providing appropriate training will be more important than ever before in helping companies reduce human error – which caused 17% of all breaches according to DBIR.
It’s a good thing that this lesson is being learned. The survey found that 59% of small and midsized business owners said they will require multi-factor logins to access systems within the next year, while 56% were training employees on best cybersecurity practices to keep things safe. This indicates small and midsized businesses across industries are preparing for safe use of technology.
While small and midsize businesses are usually the last to bounce back after a financial crisis like the one we saw during COVID-19, advances in technology mean this time will be different. Already, we’re seeing examples of disruptive technological innovations becoming available to small and midsize businesses in a way that was never possible before.
For example, Verizon recently partnered with Mastercard on a 5G contactless payments system for consumers and small and midsize businesses. The alliance, which aims to yield innovations by 2023, enables businesses to use emerging payment technologies to:
Verizon has also continued to expand the availability of our 5G Business Internet since the onset of the pandemic, providing the connective backbone upon which businesses can run their operations. Construction companies across the country are leveraging Verizon Business Internet, a fixed wireless access option for reliable and secure broadband connectivity, to power remote jobsites and a remote workforce.
So, perhaps it’s unsurprising that despite these ongoing hurdles, the construction industry looks set to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, with a global market worth more than $8 trillion by 2030, according to the Global Construction Perspective and Oxford Economics. With technology to help small and midsize businesses build back, the future looks bright.
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