Even as global construction projects grow in complexity and risk, their owners, designers and builders are not effectively using technologies—from drones and robotics to RFID tracking and data analytics—to boost outcomes, says a new survey of nearly 220 executives by management consultant KPMG.
Some 70% of respondents don’t use robotic or automated technology and don’t plan to in the future, while almost three-quarters skip advanced data analytics for project estimating and performance monitoring. Only 27% of executives say their firms have consistent controls globally, while just 8% see themselves as “cutting-edge visionaries,” says KPMG.
“The survey responses reflect the industry’s innate conservatism … with most firms content to follow rather than lead,” says Geno Armstrong, KPMG global engineering and construction sector leader. “Many lack a clear technology strategy.” Respondents are about equally split between public and private owners, and construction industry firms. Private firms range in revenue from under $1 billion to more than $20 billion.
Firms in the $1-billion to $5-billion revenue group have adapted faster to developing technology, seeing a competitive advantage and “backing it up with sizeable investments,” says KPMG. About 37% of group respondents are industry leaders or “visionaries,” compared to 29% for those in the $5 billion to $20 billion group.
According to Armstrong, a number of respondents said their technology spend depends strictly on return on investment and links to an immediate client need.
Separately, about 36% of respondents said construction has emerged from the recession and is growing, with 27% seeing major pickup just in discrete segments. About 13% report market declines or no growth in the past year.